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
"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."
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.
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)
Week 2 - St. Louis @ Atlanta
Week 3 - St. Louis @ Dallas
Week 4 - San Francisco @ St. Louis
Week 5 - Jacksonville @ St. Louis
Week 6 - St. Louis @ Houston
Week 7 - St. Louis @ Carolina
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 , than TD's . 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
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
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)