This is the first edition of a new series we call "1 to 10" where we ask TST Mangers, Editors and Authors their opinion on a 1-10 scale on various topics. In this first edition, we're going to dive right into the first week of the regular season and all weigh in on the chances the Rams will beat the Philadelphia Eagles at Home.
Eagles impressions so far this preseason: The Eagles seemed to be primed up with their activity in free agency to make a real shot at the Superbowl (most pundits have said this). However, they haven't looked all that impressive thus far in the preseason. Granted, their first game they beat Baltimore 13-6, but with their latest game? A sha-lacking, courtesy of the Pittsburgh Steelers 24-14 (the score ended closer than the reality of it.. Pitt was up 24-0 at one point before garbage time kicked in). One has to wonder if this is more than a case of preseason funk. Vick threw three INT's in this game and the Eagles committed a total of 5 turnovers.
Rams impressions so far this preseason: The Rams trounced the Manningless Colts (I stress Manningless here) 33-10 in their first preseason game looking extremely impressive on all sides of the ball. The offensive line looked dominant, the running game was impressive (so much so, even Toston chimed in with a TD) and the defense even looked improved with free agent pickup DB Quinten Mikell picking off the Colts on the third offense play of the day. In the Rams second preseason game against the Titans, the first play of the game was an 83 yard TD pass from Bradford to Gibson. Other than that? Not a whole lot with the D Line run defense looking suspect.
Do the Rams have a shot? Find out what all of us think after the jump, and then weigh in with YOUR own rating and explanation in the comments. We'd love to hear your voice as well!
PS - A Surprise: We have asked two veterans of the TST community to also add their opinion along with us!
TST's very own "RamChop" and "knoxfan" weigh in on this as well.
This should be fun :-) Holler...
1 - 10: What are the chances the Rams have to beat the Eagles in week 1 of the regular season?
Key: 1 being the worst, 10 being the best
7 - The biggest key for the Rams is staying healthy, but just barely second is getting as close to the point of maximized acumen from Josh McDaniels as possible. We all know how lackluster an offense can be when the system itself is restrictive, let alone how well it's implemented.
The Spags/Shurmur offense of 2010 was at best acceptable and at worst eye gougingly maddening. The potential exists now to open the gates. Vertical stretching, horizontal stress, formation diversity, personnel variance, package changes - it should all be on the table. With that being the case, if we go in to week 1 with an offense capable of all of that? I don't see why we can't beat the Eagles.
4 - People are saying that we have a chance to upset the so called "dream team" and I agree. If the Rams had to pick a time to play them, week one would be the choice. I wouldn't bet on the Rams winning though.
The Eagles just have that much talent. To beat them we will have to run the ball very well and dominate on play action passing, since passing on the outside will be tough with all the talented corners in the Eagle's possession.
Steven Jackson and the o-line must be able to gain yards. Lance Kendricks will have to show up big in that game along with Danny Amendola. The reason I'm singling out those two is the weakness in the Eagle's defense is the middle of the field and those are the Ram's best two middle of the field receivers.
On defense the Rams front four has to get pressure on Vick and most importantly keep him in the pocket. No matter how much Vick has improved on pocket passing, he is still most effective when he can get on the move. The defense will have to be on top of their game against Vick. I still think since the game is at the Dome, which will be going crazy, and since we are going to play them in week one we have a decent chance and that's why I give it a four.
5 - The Eagles aren't a "Dream Team", but they still are pretty good. Don't get me wrong, the Rams have improved a lot since last season, but let's not get ahead of ourselves. On paper it seems kind of even. The Eagles defense was good and they got better in a lot of spots. However I think the Eagles offense will beat the Rams defense. The Rams defense has gotten better, but I don't know how well they can contain the Eagles deep passing. I think it will be a closer game than people think, but I still think the Rams will lose.
8 - The Rams will play with a TEAM FIRST attitude, which to me is priceless. The Eagles will show up as a group of talented players, with too much focus on what each can do, with no thoughts of needing the other to succeed.
To win this game, Sam will have to spread the ball around, using the options available in McDaniel's offense. Our new WRs will have to step up, because the Eagles secondary is out to prove who they are, or at least hope to be. Jackson, Williams, Norwood and Tolston will need to shine, especially in third and short situations. The defense needs to put heat on Mike Vick.
Our defensive secondary needs to be ready for Vick to try and burn them with the long ball. We definitely have the tools to win this game and playing the Eagles now, instead of later in the year, plays to our advantage.
6 - I think the Rams have vastly improved from just one year out. BUT so have the Eagles... on paper. Please note that if this game were being played AT the Eagles, I would have given this a 4-5 versus a 7. Now before I explain a bit, I want to make it clear that the Eagles are still a very good football team no matter what we're seeing in the preseason, and one that (no matter what some people may say) I feel will make a late run into January, barring injury of course.
But I think playing these guys early (and at home) is a huge advantage for us. They have acquired MANY new faces and they will have many of the same struggles we will have; new faces working together, new players learning new systems, etc etc so in my opinion, we got lucky and got them on our schedule early. If we played them in week 8 or after, our chances would be diminished.
Another important factor is Steven Jackson should be extremely fresh in this contest, and I believe we WILL establish a good ground attack only because our "passing playbook" will most likely be somewhat limited this early on. I think we can contain Vick as well. So I give us a better than average chance of winning this game.
4 - I said in an earlier post that I give the Rams 1 chance in 3 of beating the Eagles on opening day. So I’ll go out on a limb here and say 4 on a scale of 1 to 10.
I am trying not to underrate the Rams or overrate the Eagles. Many pundits have already anointed the Eagles as the NFC representative in the next Super Bowl. I think Philly has a strong defense, a good head coach and sometimes Mike Vick can do the impossible (ask the Giants). If they beat us, it’s no shame.
I still think we’ll end up 9-7 and be NFC West Champs. Ijust don’t want to see anything like the debacle when we last faced Philly onopening day a few years ago and lost by about 40 points.
IF the Rams canpressure Vick, he’ll make mistakes. I’m not nearly as concerned about him running wild anymore since we should have some decent OLB’s now. He may find the middle clogged up too by Robbins and Bannan. As Vick goes, so goes the Eagle’s offense.
Our offense should be able to grind out some yards on the ground with SJax and Cadillac running behind what should be a stalwart O-Line. Of the five guys, Jason Brown may be themost suspect now. I think Sam will snake some good passes to our TE’s and RB’s that will go for some good yardage. My main concern on offense is the same aseverybody else’s; can our WR’s do the job???
Lastly let me remind that when it counts, historically we’ve beaten the Eagles. We knocked them out of the playoffs in 1989 by a score of 21-7. We beat them in the 2001 NFC Championship game 29-24. And we had to beat them just to make the playoffs at 8-8 in 2004. Even if they nip us in the opener, we might be back to knock them out of the playoffs. Itcould happen…
6 - The Rams displayed some promise against the Colts, but they still have a long way to go. Whether or not the Eagles really are 'destined' to do great things this year, they still are a good team led by a great coach. They are not pushovers. If the Rams want to beat them, they are going to need to play at the same high level they displayed against the Colts throughout the entirety of the game. This is a game the Rams can win, but the Eagles are not slouches. The Rams are going to have to be firing on all cylinders if they want the W here.
I will arrive at my prediction for the Season opener against the Eagles by the subtraction method, meaning that we start at "0" chance of winning and then subtract from their sure "10 " chance of winning.
A good Rams team with a near elite defense and a smart coaching staff is going to figure out a way to neutralize the Eagles' bread and butter on offense. When that happens, Reid and his coaches are going to have to adjust their game plan on the fly. Except that they'll refuse to do so and consequently lose. It's a habit of the Andy Reid's and a major reason why his Eagles haven't been able to get over that play-off hump. We're playing a coach who would rather lose with the pass than win with the run. Pressure Vic-their game-plan folds (odds 9-3 Eagles)
Meanwhile, for all the self-celebrating of the Eagles' additions on defense, the following five players are slated
to start at the linebacker and safety positions: Moise Fokou, Casey Matthews, Jamar Chaney, Nate Allen, Kurt
Coleman/Jaiquawn Jarrett. As Rams fans, could you even tell me which of those players are the linebackers and which are the safeties? How many of those names do you honestly recognize? One maybe? Certainly no hero's here. Steeler starters plucked the Eagles good. (odds 8-4 Eagles)
Speaking of Matthews, The Eagles handed the starting middle linebacker job to a fourth-round rookie without so much as an NFL snap, an believe me, he isn't even on the same Planet as JL. (odds 7-6 Eagles)
Only Fokou has more than one season of NFL experience. None of them are striking even the slightest bit of fear into Sam and crew. If I was a coach, I would challenge the middle of the Eagles' defense by lining up and running the ball right down their throat. Chaney is a real deal and has speed and athleticism, but he can't do it by himself. (odds 6-7 Rams)
The Eagles fancy themselves a Super Bowl contender but have two rookies at kicker and punter. A few games
are going to come down to a field goal kick, and you have to think that one of those two might choke in their first NFL kick. (odds 5-8 Rams)
Their pass rush should be greatly improved, with pressure up front that typically dictates how a defense is going to perform. Add that to Nnamdi Asomugha and Asante Samuel stalking the outside receivers and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie covering Amendola or Pettis. (odds 6-7 Rams)
Eagles head coach Andy Reid has closed his training camp at Lehigh this week. He said that he planned for the starters to play a full half this week, however it was crash and burn time for the "Dream Team" as they was a pitiful 21-0 behind the Steelers at the half. Vic CAN be handled when planned for. Coaching +1 (odds 5-7 Rams)
My final guesstimation Rams 28 Eagles 21
5 - I'd feel better about putting a number on this after seeing the Iggles play tomorrow night. They look like one of those teams - and you see them in every sport - that has star power but no cohesion. Think of the Yankees when they got A-Rod. Last week, they looked terrible, distracted by the media attention. Even Byron Leftwich was making plays against that "Dream Team" secondary.
Watch how the Rams defense plays the edges, the outside part of the field this week and next. The Eagles might have scored 60 points on last year's Rams defense. If they can control that area of the field better and if the offense can score points, it could be a really interesting game.