St. Louis Rams 2013 season: 10-6 or 6-10? A game-by-game analysis

Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

The 2013 St. Louis Rams are a young team filled with promise and potential. Will that translate to a winning record - and the playoffs? 10-6? Or 6-10? It all depends on your perspective.

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In an article for Turf Show Times - on July 29th, I asked the TST community to vote on what the Rams' record would be in 2013. The following were the results of the poll:

What will the Rams record be in 2013??

  • 3%      Under .500 (24 votes)

  • 8%      8-8 (73 votes)

  • 35%    9-7 (313 votes)

  • 36%    10-6 (327 votes)

  • 14%     11-5 (122 votes)

  • 5%       12 or more wins (42 votes)

901 votes total

The vast majority of voters [85%] - believe the Rams will finish with 9-11 wins in the 2013 season. Homerism aside, the Rams are expected to improve on last years 7-8-1 record. How will the Rams accomplish this? Which games on their schedule will be wins? losses? Are the Rams far enough ahead in their development - to warrant a 10 win season, and playoff contention? Or are they too young and inexperienced?

I believe the Rams can achieve 10 wins in 2013. However, the Rams are a difficult team to analyze, and offer predictions for - given the inconsistencies inherent in a young, inexperienced team. For this reason, I thought it would be beneficial to get another opinion, on how the Rams will fare in 2013. ValdezY is a knowledgeable, respected member of the TST community. Valdez is valued for his in-depth reviews of players and teams - both at the collegiate, and professional levels. Many thanks to Valdez, for taking the time to offer his analysis of the Rams - and the upcoming season.

St. Louis Rams 2013 Preview

ValdezY:

"6-10 is not the record that the Rams faithful are expecting in 2013. However, certain things do stand out, which brings into question how well the St. Louis Rams will do this season. Talent has been added via the draft and free agency, but is it enough to finish above .500?

It all starts up front with the O-Line. Jake Long was the big free agent signing, and he has looked excellent thus far, protecting the blind side. Rodger Saffold has moved to ORT, Scott Wells returned at OC. OG/OC Barrett Jones is a technician that the Rams are anxious to see develop. Harvey Dahl is back at ORG. The big concern is injury, and key members of this unit missing time. Saffold went out quickly with a shoulder injury in the preseason. The good news is, he should return relatively soon, and healthy. Jake Long is coming off a couple of injury plagued seasons, which prevented him from playing at a high level. Scott Wells is a good as any OC in the league. He must demonstrate an ability to stay healthy, which he could not do last season.

Chris Givens is looking more like the #1 WR. So far he has been explosive, and reliable, demonstrating an ability to separate from defenders, and bring in the tough catch. Brian Quick has shown flashes like last year, but also the same lack of consistency. Stedman Bailey looks solid thus far. He runs good routes, and displays decent hands. Tavon Austin has not been targeted enough, in the preseason, to get a read on what he could do. Austin Pettis has been inconsistent with his hands. It will be interesting to see Jared Cook become more involved as a flex TE.

The RB's look solid. Zac Stacy, Daryl Richardson, and Benny Cunningham look like an effective trio. Isaiah Pead has remained inconsistent. Maybe St. Louis can look to trade him for a 4th round draft pick. If they cannot get that, he should be cut.

The only questions on defense are: safety and depth at CB.

In the end, the 2013 St. Louis Rams have too many questions, at critical positions on offense. The O-Line will possibly struggle with health, and it does not appear there is enough depth to off-set that circumstance. The WR position, with the exception of Givens, is still a question mark, due to inconsistent play. The secondary will have unproven players manning both safety positions. When I look at the teams on the Rams' 2013 schedule, very few of them have as many questions as the Rams. This leads me to the conclusion that St. Louis will go 6-10 in 2013."

Ramfan 1313:

On July 29th, I previewed the Rams roster, and 2013 season, in an article for TST. (please click on link). The Rams have the potential to vie for a playoff spot - and win 10 games.

"Entering the 2013 season, the Rams will likely be the youngest team in the NFL. The defense could develop into a top ten unit by seasons end, the only question marks are both safety positions. Offensively, the Rams have added many new weapons, and the line (if healthy) will be much improved. The offense now has the potential to move into the top half of the league this season. The Rams are a promising team on the rise. This may not be reflected in their record this season, given the youth and inexperience on the team. The Rams will be in the hunt for a playoff spot right up until the end of the season, and could surprise, if the ever-increasing talent level can overcome the inconsistencies inherent in young, inexperienced football teams."

Key games for the Rams this season? The 6 divisional games are a key to any success the Rams will have in 2013. The difference between an 8-8 record - and 10-6? 4 pivotal games: against New Orleans, Indianapolis, Chicago, and Dallas. A 6-4 record in these 10 games is essential - if the Rams are to achieve a double-digit win total in 2013. The Rams' floor for wins? 7 Ceiling? 11.

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Week 1 - Arizona @ St. Louis

ValdezY - "This is not the same inept Cardinals of old. Bruce Arians is the new H.C., with an aggressive approach on both sides of the ball. The O-Line has added punch inside with OG's - Jonathan Cooper and Earl Watford. The Cardinals added  FA OT Eric Winston as well. This bodes well for QB Carson Palmer, who can be very effective, if adequately protected. The RB group is deep and talented. Rashard Mendenhall, Stepfan Taylor, Andre Ellington, and Alfonso Smith, provide balance for an offense that wants to throw down field for big plays. At receiver, Larry Fitzgerald, Michael Floyd, Jaron Brown, and TE Rob Housler, can impact a defense on all levels of the field. The defense was one of the best in 2012. A lot of talent was added to make that defense even better - ILB Kevin Minter and FS/NCB Tyrann Mathieu. Against Arizona, St. Louis will have its moments moving the ball. However, I still see the Red Zone as being a trouble area, one which Arizona can exploit."

Prediction - Arizona (Rams 0-1)

Ramfan 1313 - Arizona will be a much improved team in 2013. They brought in QB Carson Palmer, and upgraded the offensive line. The keys to this game will be pressuring Carson Palmer - and exploiting Arizona's deep secondary [two new safeties]. Although improved, the Card's offensive line still has question marks. The line suffered a huge blow on the weekend - Jonathan Cooper may be out for the season with a broken leg. Arizona will have no way to prepare, in advance, for the new-look Rams offense. The defenses will keep this game close.

Prediction - St. Louis 20 - 14 (Rams 1-0)

Week 2 - St. Louis @ Atlanta

ValdezY - "Atlanta is a team with an abundance of offensive fire power. Roddy White and Julio Jones both had over 1,000 yards receiving last year, in addition to scoring a combined 17 TD's. The TE position, with Tony Gonzalez, is formidable as well. Gonzalez caught 93 passes for 930 yards, and 8 TD's. Their running game added 11 TD's. Atlanta's defense gave up a lot of yards on the ground, and through the air. However, they were 5th in the NFL in points allowed [18.7]. They can get stingy in the RZ. In the end, I think Atlanta's offense is too potent for St. Louis, to beat them on the road."

Prediction - Atlanta  (Rams 0-2)

Ramfan 1313 - It will be an emotional game for Rams fans - watching Steven Jackson take the field for the Falcons. Atlanta's powerful offense will be on display. Their defense is a classic "bend-but-don't break" unit. The Rams will be competitive in this game, and could surprise. If the Rams can disrupt Matt Ryan, and make some big plays offensively, they could pull the upset.

Prediction - Atlanta 27 - 23 (Rams 1-1)

Week 3 - St. Louis @ Dallas

ValdezY - "A very tough road game for St. Louis. A weakness for Dallas, is starting to look stronger. The addition of OG/OC Travis Frederick, will help solidify the middle of their offensive line. Tyron Smith is a potential All-Pro at LOT. The Dallas run game looks much improved, with a healthy DeMarco Murray, rookie Joseph Randle, and veteran Phillip Tanner. The receivers and TE's are a strong lot. Dez Bryant, and Jason Whitten, are two of the games best at their respective positions. The new-look 4-3 defense has looked solid. DE George Selvie has been a terror off the edge, in the preseason. The LB group, with Bruce Carter and Sean Lee, is solid vs the run and pass. Adding rookie DeVonte Holloman makes this talented group much deeper.The ability to run more effectively, gives Dallas a balance on offense that will be tough to beat."

Prediction - Dallas (Rams 0-3)

Ramfan 1313 - The Rams have one of the more difficult road schedules in the NFL. Winning a road game in Dallas will not be an easy task. The Cowboys will endure some growing pains, in switching from a 3-4 to 4-3 base defense. There are many question marks on the offensive line. Stopping the Dallas running game, and pressuring Tony Romo, will be keys for the Rams. The Rams offense will show many different looks - to a Dallas defense still learning the 4-3.

Prediction - St. Louis 28 - 20 (Rams 2-1)

Week 4 - San Francisco @ St. Louis

ValdezY - "The 49er's are a tough test, whether on the road, or at home. Their O-Line is one of the best in The NFL. They open holes for Frank Gore, allowing Colin Kaepernick to run the read-option attack, and provide protection for him to pass down field. A key offensive weapon was lost in Michael Crabtree. Anquan Boldin, Vernon Davis, and Vance McDonald could all off-set the loss of Crabtree. The 49er defense looks as strong as ever, heading into 2013. Last year San Francisco had the third-ranked defense in The NFL. With an aging Justin Smith, San Francisco added youth across the D-Line, and the LB group. Rookies Quinton Dial, Nick Moody, and Corey Lemonier, are all talented defenders in that front seven. The secondary looks like a strong suit. S Eric Reid looks as if he is a day one starter. CB's Perrish Cox and Nnamdi Asomugha have been impressive.  A concern for the Rams - stopping the interior pressure provided by Patrick Willis and Navorro Bowman."

Prediction - San Francisco (Rams 0-4)

Ramfan 1313 - The Niner's will feel the losses of Michael Crabtree and Dashon Goldson, especially early in the season. The Rams played very well against San Francisco last year (1-0-1). This season should be no different. This game will be a defensive slug-fest, with Greg Zuerlein kicking a 51 yard field goal - in the final two minutes - to seal the victory.

Prediction - St. Louis 16 - 13 (Rams 3-1)

Week 5 - Jacksonville @ St. Louis

ValdezY - "This a game that St. Louis should take at home. The QB play for Jacksonville has been poor, at best. They have trouble finding any type of balance on offense.  Most defenses load the box, and focus on the run game primarily. However, St. Louis should not take this offense lightly. Justin Blackmon will return from suspension. He had 64 receptions for 865 yards, and 5 TD's as a rookie. TE Marcedes Lewis put up some decent numbers, from the TE position, with 52 rec's for 540 yards, and 4 TD's.Cecil Shorts, Ace Sanders, and Mike Brown, are all capable of being factors in the receiving game.
The defense has taken a more aggressive approach. Tyson Alualu has moved outside to DE, and is a force. Sen'Derrick Marks has been effective at generating pressure up the middle, along with Pannel Egboh. Geno Hayes looks like a winner at OLB. The secondary looks to be improved from last year - with veterans Alan Ball and Marcus Trufant - playing alongside rookies Jonathan Cyprien, Josh Evans, and Dwayne Gratz. Again, this is a game that St. Louis should win [if they don't take Jacksonville for granted]."

Prediction - St. Louis (Rams 1-4)

Ramfan 1313 - A must-win game for the Rams. The Jaguars might be the worst team in the NFL. The Rams will win this one going away.

Prediction - St. Louis 31 - 7 (Rams 4-1)

Week 6 - St. Louis @ Houston

ValdezY - "The O-Line of the Texans is as solid as any in The NFL. OLT Duane Brown, OG Brandon Brooks, C/G Chris Myers, and OG Wade Smith, did an excellent job in pass-pro and run blocking. Arian Foster ran behind that line for 1,424 yards and 15 TD's. He also caught 40 passes for 217 yards, and 2 TD's. Matt Schaub was given the protection to throw for over 4,000 yards and 22 TD's. Andre Johnson had 112 receptions for 1,598 yards, and 4 TD's. TE Owen Daniels had a solid year with 62 rec's for 716 yards, and 6 TD's. The Texan offense added depth to the O-Line - adding OT's Brennan Williams, and David Quessenberry. WR DeAndre Hopkins was added to take the pressure off Andre Johnson. Hopkins looked the part against Minnesota in the preseason. His route running looked sharp, and his hands were sure. The defense is special, with J.J. Watt at DE, who recorded 20.5 sacks last year. He also led Houston in tackles with 107. Brian Cushing returns, after a knee injury ruined his 2012 season. The secondary looks solid. The Texans should be a tough draw for any team, especially at home."

Prediction - Houston (Rams 1-5)

Ramfan 1313 - The Texans are formidable, on both sides of the ball. Given the issues in Denver and New England, Houston looks like the front-runner in the AFC. The Rams will have trouble containing Arian Foster, J.J. Watt and Andre Johnson. Look for Houston to dominate this game. For the Rams to have any chance, they must pressure Matt Schaub, protect Sam Bradford, and stifle the Texans rushing attack.

Prediction - Houston 30 - 19 (Rams 4-2)

Week 7 - St. Louis @ Carolina

ValdezY - "Carolina is limited on offense. Cam Newton does not have many weapons, outside of WR Steve Smith, and TE Greg Olsen. Their running game was marginal, save for Cam Newton, who led Carolina in rushing with 741 yards, and 8 TD's. When your QB leads the team in rushing, the offense has issues. The defense looks better upfront - with Star Lotuleilei and Kawaan Short at DT - and Greg Hardy and Charles Johnson playing end. This group can add pressure against both the run and pass. Luke Kuechly leads a stout and athletic LB group. Kuechly led the team in tackles with 205. The secondary is the weak link. The Rams should be able exploit this group downfield."

Prediction - St. Louis (2-5)

Ramfan 1313 - Containing Cam Newton will be a key for the Rams, who have shown great success against multi-dimensional quarterbacks. Sam Bradford should be able to stretch the field - with Chris Givens, Tavon Austin, and Jared Cook - against a porous secondary. This game is another must-win for the Rams on the road - if they are to contend for a playoff berth. Carolina sported a 3-5 record at home, and finished with a 4 game winning streak in 2012.

Prediction - St. Louis 27 - 17 (Rams 5-2)

Week 8 - Seattle @ St. Louis

ValdezY - "Even with the loss of Percy Harvin, Seattle is still a potent team, on offense and defense.Their running game ranked third in the NFL last year. Marshawn Lynch ran for 1,590 yards, and 11 TD's. QB Russell Wilson chipped in with 489 yards on the ground , and 4 TD's. Wilson threw the ball well in his NFL debut - with 3.118 yards, and 26 TD's. The O-Line was more consistent last year . T Russell Okung and OC Max Unger were solid. Seatlle continued to add wealth at RB in the draft - with Christine Michael and Spencer Ware. Both can run between the tackles, with Michael having the better burst, and speed to take it the distance. These backs will keep Lynch fresh during the season. TE Luke Wilson can flex out as a WR, and function as a threat in the RZ. Sidney Rice, when healthy, is a legitimate downfield threat with size. Seattle's defense is just flat out good. They ranked fourth in overall defense, and first in points allowed, with 15.3 per game. DE Red Bryant returns from a season hampered by a bad foot. He is a force when healthy. The additions of Cliff Avril and Michael Bennett, will improve the pass rush. Bruce Irvin will be back from his suspension to provide an additional pass rushing threat. Irvin recorded 6 sacks as a rookie last year. The secondary is a ball hawking group, led by Richard Sherman, who grabbed 8 picks in 2012."

Prediction - Seattle (Rams 2-6)

Ramfan 1313 - The Rams played Seattle very tough last year - winning at home [19-13], and losing in Seattle [13-20]. Expect more of the same this year. Seattle is among the favorite's for a Super Bowl berth, and rightfully so [as pointed out by ValdezY]. Expect both games this year to be low-scoring, defense-dominated battles. The most intriguing match ups? The Rams' multi-faceted passing attack, versus the Hawks' premier secondary. The Rams will outplay Seattle in this contest. In at least one game this coming season, the youth and inexperience of the Rams will cause them to lose a game they should have won. This game will be the one.

Prediction - Seattle 20 - 17 (Rams 5-3)

Week 9 - Tennessee @ St. Louis

ValdezY - "Jake Locker is very inefficient at throwing the football. His accuracy has always been an issue. Last year he threw for more INT's [11], than TD's [10]. The O-Line has been upgraded: with the additions of OG's Andy Levitre and Chance Warmack. The Titans have a chance to improve upon the running game with Chris Johnson. Their receiving corps is solid, but with Locker at QB, they will look pedestrian, at best. Bernard Pollard will add some bite to a defense that could be on the upswing. However, Locker's play will make things tough on both sides of the ball."

Prediction - St. Louis (Rams 3-6)

Ramfan 1313 - Another must-win game at home for the Rams. The Titans are very inconsistent on defense [especially against the run] - the Rams should be able to move the ball on the ground and through the air. Tennessee has improved their offensive line, which should make for better seasons from Jake Locker and Chris Johnson. If the Rams can pressure Locker, and slow down Johnson, count on a Rams victory.

Prediction - St. Louis 30 - 17 (Rams 6-3)

Week 10 - St. Louis @ Indianapolis

ValdezY - "Andrew Luck can struggle if his running game suffers. Ahmad Bradshaw could be the answer, if he can stay healthy. He has been battling a foot injury, which has made him less effective. The O-Line is still gaining its footing as a cohesive unit. Reggie Wayne is still the reliable WR in which Luck can trust. T.Y. Hilton is explosive as a WR and return man. Coby Fleener is talented, but consistency is needed. Darrius Heyward-Bey is lacking consistency as well. The receiving group could be a weakness for the defense to exploit. The Colts defense is a work in progress. The Rams have a decent shot of taking one on the road."

Prediction - St. Louis (4-6)

Ramfan 1313 - There was quite an element of "Luck" involved with the Colts' 11-5 record last year. Indy had one of the easiest schedules in the NFL. They were 9-1 in games decided by a touchdown or less. I expect them to regress this season - an 8-8 record is possible. The Colts brought in many new players through free agency. It remains to be seen how much of an impact they will have on the teams fortunes. The Rams should be able to exploit a just-developing Colts defense. Indianapolis allowed 6.0 yards per play last season, tied for second worst in the league. Indy's offensive line was upgraded in the off season, yet still has many question marks. The Rams pressuring Andrew Luck will be the key to upsetting the Colts.

Prediction - St. Louis 24 - 17 (Rams 7-3)

Week 11 - Bye

Week 12 - Chicago @ St. Louis

ValdezY - "The Bears have assembled a solid team. Marc Trestman has stressed getting the ball out quicker. This will help QB Jay Cutler stay cleaner. The run game is a strength, with Matt Forte and Michael Bush the primary backs.
Forte offers Cutler a reliable receiving target out of the backfield. In 2012 he had 44 receptions, for 340 yards, and a TD. TE Martellus Bennett gives the Bears a player who factors in the run and passing game. Brandon Marshall is one of the best receivers in the game. Last season he collected 118 passes for 1,508 yards, and 11 TD's. Alshon Jeffery looks to improve . The Bears defense ranked 5th in The NFL last year. They lost Brian Urlacher, but they will move Lance Briggs to the middle. Rookie LB Jon Bostic has demonstrated the ability to be an every down LB. Julius Peppers returns as a force off the edge. Charles Tillman and Tim Jennings man an opportunistic secondary."

Prediction - Chicago - (Rams 4-7)

Ramfan 1313 - The Bears manhandled St. Louis last year in Chicago (23-6). The Bears possess a strong, top 5 defense, and an efficient, balanced offense. The Bears could win 10 games again this season. Stopping the run [and Brandon Marshall] will be keys for the Rams. Expect this game to be another defensive battle - and a major test for the new-look Rams offense.

Prediction - Chicago 19 - 17 (Rams 7-4)

Week 13 - St. Louis @ San Francisco

ValdezY - "I do not see St. Louis beating San Francisco at home. See earlier remarks."

Prediction - San Francisco (Rams 4-8)

Ramfan 1313 - Again, this game will be a huge defensive struggle. The Niner's will prevail at home, although it wouldn't be a surprise if the Rams beat them a second time in 2013. The 49ers are 13-2-1 at home over the last 2 seasons.

Prediction - San Francisco 20 - 19 (Rams 7-5)

Week 14 - St. Louis @ Arizona

ValdezY - "The Cardinals will be much better than last year, particularly at home."

Prediction - Arizona (Rams 4-9)

Ramfan 1313 - The Rams pass rush is too much for the Arizona offensive line. The Rams offense is in full-swing - Chris Givens and Jared Cook shred the Cards' deep secondary.

Prediction - St. Louis 24 - 13 (Rams 8-5)

Week 15 - New Orleans @ St. Louis

ValdezY - "The Saints will likely struggle in that new 3-4 defense. The secondary is vulnerable to attack. Drew Brees and the offense can still score, but their defense will struggle to stop anyone."

Prediction - St. Louis (Rams 5-9)

Ramfan 1313 - Expect this game to have a fair amount of offense. The return of coach Sean Payton is welcomed by the Saints. Drew Brees, and the Saints offense, will put points on the board. The Saints' defense is in need of a major rebuild. The Rams offense will shine, and will hold off the Saints just enough to pull out the victory.

Prediction - St. Louis 31 - 24 (Rams 9-5)

Week 16 - Tampa Bay @ St. Louis

ValdezY - "Josh Freeman is talented, but inconsistent. The offense has weapons in Vincent Jackson and Doug Martin, but it begins and ends with Freeman. The defense will have to carry this team. Darrelle Revis will be a key. A win at home for the Rams."

Prediction - St. Louis (Rams 6-9)

Ramfan 1313 - Don't sleep on Tampa Bay. This will be an improved team in 2013, and a tough test for the Rams. The Bucs have many impact players on both sides of the ball, including: Doug Martin, Vincent Jackson, Carl Nicks, Mike Williams, Dashon Goldson, Darrelle Revis, Mark Barron, Gerald McCoy, and Lavonte David (I still can't get past the Rams not drafting him). Stuffing the run, and putting pressure on Josh Freeman, will be the keys to the Rams beating Tampa Bay. Tampa's secondary could be something special - a good test for the Rams' WR's.

Prediction - St. Louis 21 - 13 (Rams 10-5)

Week 17 - St. Louis @ Seattle

ValdezY - "Seattle is a tough place to play on the road, especially for the last game of the season. See earlier remarks."

Prediction - Seattle (Rams 6-10) End of regular season

Ramfan 1313 - Seattle a tough place to play on the road? Last year's record at home: 8-0. This game could have a huge impact on the playoffs, especially if the Rams are 10-5 going into the season finale. The pressure would be enormous, especially for a young team like the Rams. Seattle wins this game, but the Rams leave everything on the field, and carry much promise into the 2014 season.

Prediction - Seattle 27 - 24 (Rams 10-6) End of regular season (Home 6-2 - Road 4-4)

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