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Jim Thomas predicts second place finish for the Rams in the NFC West

[Note by VanRam, 07/18/11 6:01 PM EDT ] Ok, really quick begging. I'm a big proponent of Twitter, not at the expense of the site, but rather in its service. Not only is it a way for us to connect to others in the NFL world and get more info on the stories happening, it's another way to build relationships with fans...which is what we're all about. So be sure to follow us on Twitter

Once the season does finally start, the St. Louis Rams have a tough schedule, one that includes both of last year's Super Bowl entrants as well as two of the most winning divisions in the NFL. That comes as the Rams and their coaching staff face heightened expectations, including a division title, after nearly missing in last year's rebound. One Rams expert doesn't think it will happend.

Jim Thomas from the Post-Dispatch, moonlighting for the Sporting News, predicts a second place finish for the Rams in the division. Based on the schedule and the team needing to improve its offense by at least a touchdown per game. He doesn't say which team would finish ahead of the Rams for the NFC West crown. 

Anything is possible in the NFL, as the 7-9 Rams of 2010 remind us. However, the rest of the division plays the NFC East and the AFC North along with the Rams. St. Louis' schedule differs a little because of games against Green Bay and New Orleans, matched because the Rams finished second in their division as did those two teams. San Francisco has to play the Lions and the Buccaneers, two teams in a much better place. Seattle gets the Falcons and the Bears, while Arizona faces the Panthers and the Vikings. The key for the Rams what they do against division opponents.

Perhaps more interesting in Thomas' piece are his predictions for the Rams roster...

Now, it should be noted that his depth chart is not the 53-man roster, there are players left off the list. Players that are on the list, however, make it interesting. 

Wide receiver is the one roster spot with a log jam right now. Thomas predicts Danny Amendola, Mark Clayton, Austin Pettis and Brandon Gibson as the top four receivers. No predictions as to which other receiver would make the final cut, which probably only includes two more spots for receivers. Personally, I think Pettis and Salas will replace Gibson, while Amendola, Clayton, Avery and Alexander fill out the remaining spots. 

No prediction as to the third tight end, a battle between Daniel Fells and Billy Bajema

Here's one to give you nightmares, Craig Dahl and James Butler as the starting safeties. 

Ok, don't lose too much sleep. This roster prediction does not include any free agent additions, something that will dramatically change how the final product looks. 

Honestly, a second place prediction in the NFC West is the most shocking part of this, given the status of the other teams in the division.