Earlier this week, we let the fans vote on how many games the St. Louis Rams would win by breaking the 2015 season down in quarters. Thousands of votes revealed a 10-win season...something the team hasn’t done since 2003. How about a more in-depth, game-by-game prognostication?
Seattle - in the season opener expect the Rams to come out fired up. A common theme that has been pounded into the defenses heads this off-season is start fast. Expect a defensive slug-fest. Defense and special teams that is. Russell Wilson does an excellent job of taking care of the ball. Except for when he plays St. Louis. In six career games against the Rams he has 7 turnovers. He's also been sacked almost five times a game when playing the Rams.
Washington - Washington is not a good ball club right now. Their defense is in shambles, offense has no idea what to do at quarterback, receivers can't stay healthy, it's just a complete mess. With the Raiders vastly improving their roster over the last two seasons this may be the new stat team (the team you play to boost your stats). I get it, it's the NFL and any team can beat any team. But those victories will be few and far in between.
Pittsburgh - The Steelers are a completely different team for the first time in their storied history. They have always been a dominant defensive team with a good rushing attack. They have their rushing attack, but not the defense. However they can sling it. Weapons galore! This will be the defenses first mega test. Trying to slow this passing attack will be challenging. On the other hand I fully expect the Rams to be able to run the ball down their throats. If the defense can create a turnover or two it should be the difference.
Awww snap... the Rams are 3-0 for the first time in a loooooong time!!!!
Arizona - Things will start to toughen up even more after hard fought battle with Pittsburgh. Arizona is legit and I refuse to be one of the individuals to call last season a fluke. That offense is explosive, especially with Palmer at the helm. Their defense is legitimately a shut down unit. They lost a few pieces but gained some as well. The Rams are going to have to be able to pass to win.
Green Bay - Do the opposite of what Aaron Rodgers said, and do not relax. The Packers might have the most dangerous offense in the NFL. If ever there was a game for this defense to really show it's dominance this might be it. I expect the defense to do a lot of bending but not breaking. This will be similar to last year when the Rams finished with one of the top red zone defenses. Falling behind will spell trouble as this team will have to have a good passing attack to catch up. This means quality blocking, against a good pass rush. It's a tall order for this young line.
Cleveland - The defense should and will have a field day against this offense. I expect turnovers, sacks, and pain. However this Browns defense will not be easy to run or pass on. They'll need a very balanced approach this game. But ultimately the Rams defense should be the difference.
San Francisco - Talk about a possible fall from stardom. The 49ers simply are not the same team from three years ago. However that means nothing in this matchup. One thing that has always stood to be true, when these teams play each other, no matter how well or poor one may be playing, the game is a classic. The niners will likely be struggling at this point in the season, but I fully expect a statement to be made in what is the most underrated rival in the NFL (65-63-3 all time, niners lead)
Minnesota - I have the Vikings picked as a sleeper team this year. Teddy Bridgewater is the real deal. And now he has the best running back in the NFL - back and pissed the heck off - playing with him for the first time in his young career. Teams will focus on the run allowing him to have easier reads and match ups. Also, the Vikings defense should be very strong this season. Mike Zimmer is a pretty good defensive coach and they have some really good pieces in place. Plus, the Rams simply do not have a good history against Adrian Peterson.
Chicago - The Bears could be very good (on offense) or very bad, it all depends on Jay Cutler. Fortunately for me, I'm not foolish enough to bet on him. I'm calling it now, three interceptions, a fumble, and 4 sacks when the Rams and Bears face off this season. #NoFaithInCutler
Baltimore - The Ravens are similar to the Steelers in that they have long been known for their great defense and good run game. Nowadays though, their defense is simply just good and not great. But their offense has become so much more balanced and has a legitimate threat of a passing game. The difference here, as opposed to the game against the Steelers, the Ravens are going to shut down the run.
Cincinnati - the Bengals are the NFL's scariest team. How can that be you ask? Because everyone knows they are going to beat the hell out of someone really good every year, but no one knows when. And it makes them scary because no one wants to be that team that they use to remind everyone of how good they can be, if only they played more consistently. As long as they're healthy (enough) the Bengals passing and rushing might be too much to handle.
Arizona - Not much has changed here. In fact at this point in the season I fully expect Seattle and Arizona to be duking it out for first place in the division and maybe the conference.
Detroit - Detroit's run game sucks. They will most likely throw upwards of 40 times. And they like to take shots deep which takes time to develop. I fully expect the defensive line to have one of it's best games of the season as 10 sacks seems achievable on this day. Also the lions secondary has a history of struggling. This might be Nick Foles and Tavon Austin - yup, I said it - best game of the year.
Tampa Bay - At this point in the season Todd Gurley will be 100%. As long as he is healthy and hasn't had any other issues with anything else, I expect a true breakout performance around this time of year. I think he scores three touchdowns at some point and this could be the game. Think Tre Mason vs the Raiders in 2014, only more touches. He could very well finish with 200 total yards from scrimmage. And with the young offensive line the Buccaneers are expected to have, the d-line should have two great games back to back.
Seattle - With the playoffs on the line the Rams must win out to control their destiny. But its just something about the Rams playing in Seattle that haunts this team. I have every bit of faith they will start off leading. Most likely something like 13-10 at half-time, but somehow someway things always crumble for this team in the second half up at century link field.
San Francisco - Playoffs are not lost at this point, but they're going to need some real help. No matter what, they have to win this game. A lost would guarantee them sitting on the coach the next week. However, I dont see any way possible the Rams lose both games to the niners this year, and if not for a bad turnover or two in the first match up they would have won. This game will be cleaned up and Todd Gurley will close the season strong as well as Tre Mason. I expect both backs to eclipse 85 yards rushing in the season's finale.