Aug 8, 2014; St. Louis, MO, USA; St. Louis Rams wide receiver Tavon Austin (11) breaks a tackle from New Orleans Saints defensive back Trevin Wade (30) during the first half at Edward Jones Dome. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports
No need to pinch yourself, Rams fans, St. Louis is actually taking the field today, having been sidelined for nearly two weeks following the disappointing loss to the Dallas Cowboys. Since that time, there has been plenty of action, including the San Francisco 49ers stonewalling the “unstoppable” Chip Kelly offense and, maybe more impressively, Jeff Fisher dropping his stubbornness for a moment, naming Austin Davis the starter for Sunday. Neither of those have appeared to change the national outlook on the game, with seemingly every professional analyst, aside from Merril Hoge, picking Nick Foles and his Philadelphia Eagles to win on Sunday. However, in this “bold” segment, we’re throwing on our psychic hat, looking into our crystal ball, and prophesizing our five predictions for this afternoon that should culminate in a St. Louis Rams victory.
Austin Davis will have more touchdown passes than Nick Foles
Against the Dallas Cowboys, we dropped this same bold prediction, despite Davis being one of only 22 players in league history (at that point) to have thrown for over 400 yards in the NFL without a single touchdown pass. We were not disappointed, with Davis managing three touchdowns in the game, including two in the opening half that helped spring the Rams to a 21-0 lead halfway through the second quarter. Nick Foles struggled to move the football last week, despite throwing the rock 40+ times versus an injury-riddled 49ers defensive unit. The way the Rams secondary has been playing, to this point, we should expect a similar performance today.
St. Louis Rams will triple their sack total
To be fair, that isn’t necessarily a bold prediction, considering Sack City has managed only one total sack in three games this year. It may also not be overly bold considering the caliber of offensive line they will be playing against on Sunday. Philadelphia will essentially be starting three “new” players on their line, including Lane Johnson, coming back from a four-game suspension for PED use. While the Eagles still have their All-Pro left tackle in place to slow Robert Quinn, their interior is severely weakened. That should be good news for Aaron Donald, Michael Brockers, and the rest of the players that will rotate into the interior. We should expect plenty of pressures today from Gregg Williams and Co., including enough sacks to get the Rams back on track to repeat as a Top 5 sacking unit.
Brian Quick will manage his first 100+ receiving game WITH a touchdown grab
“Quickie” has been one of the few shining lights for the St. Louis Rams offense this season, leading the team in receptions and receiving yards this year. There is obviously a connection with Austin Davis, who has regularly paired with Quick on the second- and, more often, third-team offensive units over the past couple of years. However, despite his success this season, Quick has yet to manage the combination of 100+ receiving yards AND a receiving touchdown. That will end today, facing off against a mediocre Philadelphia cornerback duo that features Bradley Fletcher, who was previously cut by Jeff Fisher in favor of Cortland Finnegan and a pair of rookies. Quick will have the height, size, and speed advantage on both corners, and we know he’ll get at least a handful of long-ball opportunities with Austin Davis regularly slinging the ball down the field.
Darren Sproles will not have a significant impact on the game
If the San Francisco 49ers taught the Rams anything on Sunday, it was to key on Sproles, and let the rest of the Philadelphia offense try to figure it out. The seemingly regular “player of the week” has had a field day breaking open games this season, whether is be rushing, receiving, or returning the football on special teams. He is the definition of a “home run hitter” in the NFL. However, with an extra week to rest, dissect film, and game plan for the Eagles, expect the mad scientist that is Gregg Williams to have a plan for shutting down the dynamo scat back. If he doesn’t, it could be a long, long day for the Rams.
Tavon Austin will make his first appearance of the season, recording 150+ all-purpose yards and two touchdowns
Indications are that Tavon Austin will suit today, despite missing a significant amount of time following the MCL sprain suffered against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Presumably, that means that the Philadelphia Eagles did not spend any significant amount of time working him into their defensive game plan; not a smart move. Considering how much pressure Bill Davis likes to apply through exotic blitzes, there should be plenty of space for Tavon to work in the middle of the field. Moreover, former Rams punter, Donnie Jones, has allowed one of the highest return rates on punts this season. Giving the open-field wonder a chance in space is never a good idea, and could lead the St. Louis Rams first big play on the return unit this season.