Typically, you would save the “bold predictions” for the regular season. However, in the spirit of the first preseason game where starters may see significant playing time, Ramblin’ Fan figured we would dust off fortune-teller hat and bust out some game-day predictions for the Rams against the Packers. Naturally, some of these might be a little skewed, with starters likely to head to the bench around halftime. However, they wouldn’t be “bold” if there wasn’t some risk involved. Anyways, without further ado, here are Ramblin’ Fan’s five bold predictions for the game against Green Bay…
1. The “starting” defensive line will register, at least, 3 sacks against Aaron Rodgers in the first half
Last season, the Rams got blowout by the Green Bay Packers during their mid-season slump. While Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay skill players were beginning to heat up, on their way to stealing the NFC North crown from the down-spiraling, Jay Cutler-less Chicago Bears, their offensive line had yet to get the memo. In the opening quarter of that game, Aaron Rodgers was sacks four times, by four different players (i.e. Quinn, Langford, Hayes, and Brockers). Once the Pack grabbed the lead, the “sack party” was over, likely due to a combination of alterations to play calling, offensive line adjustments, and Aaron Rodgers unloading the rock a bit more quickly. With Bryan Bulaga gone, there isn’t an offensive tackle on the Packers’ roster that can handle the speed rush from Robert Quinn off the left side of the line. Tack on the fact that Michael Brockers will be in “full health” and the rest of the defensive line rotation is still thoroughly intact, and you have a perfect storm for another opening half sack party.
2. Daryl Richardson will score an offensive touchdown
This may not seem like that bold of a prediction, especially considering the Richardson saw significant snaps last preseason and took 98 rushes during the 2012 regular season. However, miraculously, the Rams’ new “featured back” has yet to score an offensive touchdown… ever.
After the last preseason game, Rams Nation took to Twitter to ask Richardson about his “consummating touchdown.” With his style of running, the drought can only last so long. We say, it ends tonight!
3. Trumaine Johnson will play more 1st-team defensive snaps than Will Witherspoon
What that really indicates is that the St. Louis Rams’ defensive starters will player more out of the nickel package than their 4-3 base defensive. After the Jo-Lonn Dunbar suspension, Jeff Fisher essentially handed the keys to the starting “rightside linebacker” spot to Witherspoon, right after damning Dunbar for his “selfish” actions. However, against pass-oriented offenses last season, the St. Louis Rams relied heavily on the nickel package over their base defense. In fact, in the Week 7 matchup against the Packers, Bradley Fletcher played 75% of the defensive snaps (53 out of 70), with Mario Haggan and Rocky McIntosh combining for only 25% (17 out of 70). With Fletcher out of the picture, Johnson is the “next man up” in the nickel package, and should be expected to see a similarly large proportion of snaps with the 1st-team.
4. Jared Cook and Tavon Austin will score a touchdown
This may be more of a wish than an expectation, but both players are primed for big games against a spotty Green Bay back-eight. Sam Bradford, historically, has thrown at his best against 3-4 base defenses, including his 2012 performances against the Washington Redsksins (310 yards, 3 touchdowns), San Francisco 49ers (275 yards, 2 touchdowns), and Miami Dolphins (315 yards, 1 rushing touchdown). Specifically against Green Bay, Bradford will likely look to target the middle of the field, with Green Bay’s coverage “strength” being in their cornerbacks, and their weakness being the coverage abilities of the linebacker corps and the safeties; that is where Cook and Austin dominate. As an added bonus to this particular “bold prediction,” Tavon Austin will likely get, at least, one or two punt returns tonight. Austin can score anytime he has the ball in his hands and an open field in front of him…
5. Greg Zuerlein will hit a preseason-long field goal
For those who do not follow the St. Louis Rams, that statement may sound like the most boring prediction that the NFL world has ever seen. However, if the do follow the Rams, or at least read the box score from the Cleveland game, you would know that Zuerlein has already hit from 54- and 55-yards this preseason. Jeff Fisher would love to “unleash the leg” in the Edwards Jones Dome, especially in the home opener. If the Rams are somewhere in the 55 to 65 yard range heading into halftime, look for Zuerlein to his shot from long-distance.