Since the new season is a little over two months away, I’m going to do what I did last off-season, but this time a little bit simpler. In a four-part series, I’m going to break down the St. Louis Rams’ schedule and make quick, witty — yes, on the whim — predictions about the Rams’ 2008 schedule. No biased, prejudice writing here. It’s going to be all objective, yet will have a spice of flavor that will make you intermittently chortle as you read on. I’m going to roll with four games in each part, which will cover the first four here. The rest of the first half of the season in the second. In the next section (the other eight), I’ll sift through the first half of the second half of the season. Then, in part 4, I’ll end my ‘predictions’ with the last four games.
I think we can all agree that the Rams have alot of unanswered questions going into the 2008 season. I also think we can all agree that most of those questions are health related. I also feel that “potential” is another area full of questions. Are players like Alex Barron, Richie Incognito, Tye Hill and the rookies they drafted going to live up to whatever potential they supposedly have? What about Drew Bennett and Randy McMichael? Are they going to make the splash on our offense that we have been expecting? Now in his third season in St. Louis, will Jim Haslett be able to get the Rams’ defense straightened out?
As we all know the Rams finished the 2007 season with a (3-13) record. We can only guess what their won/loss record would have been if they could have stayed reasonably (NFL) healthy. My guess is that they would have been at least (7-9), but really, I was expecting (9-7). So for arguments sake or lack thereof, let’s say the Rams stayed reasonably healthy and finished the 2007 season at (8-8).
@ Philadelphia Eagles
The Eagles have as many questions concerning their team as we do. Donovan McNabb has already been shut down to rest his tendinitis shoulder. Although they have one of the most versatile runningbacks in the NFL, their wide receivers don’t scare me one iota. Though, with the Rams’ corners on a questionable perch, those receivers might look like pro bowl players in the first week of the season. Rams shoot out to a 10-0 lead early, a 13-7 halftime lead, but are — as tradional for the Ramsa — stifled in the second half, as a 7-minute drive for the Eagles in the fourth quarter delivers a 14-13 victory for Philly. Rams start the season 0-1.
New York Giants
Their cinderella run is over (Thanks a ton for beating the Pats!) It’s a new season. Michael Strahan is gone. I’m giving the Rams a 50/50 chance to come away with something special here. Steven Jackson concocts a 2-touchdown first half, as Josh Brown connects on his third field goal of the season; the Rams lead 17-6 at halftime. In the second half, with the Rams’ woes being expected, Marc Bulger opens up the third quarter with a 51 yard strike to Torry Holt. The Rams 24-6 lead looks improbable for most teams to come back against this late in the game, but for the Rams, the whole game’s a test. The Rams manage to hold on to an ‘upset’ victory, winning 27-13, as [Josh] Brown hits a field goal to open the 4th, and Eli Manning’s 13-yard pass to Kevin Boss remains the only touchdown of the day for the Giants.
@ Seattle Seahawks
The Seahawks will find a way to win this game. They always do against the Rams. Or, maybe, just maybe, I can dream that Josh Brown could kick a field goal at the end of the game to give the Rams a victory (how bittersweet would that be?!) However, I’m going to go with another twist here, something that has only about a 5 percent chance of likely happening. (BUT THESE ARE MY PREDICTIONS, so yo, let me write as I please — I know I’m going to be completely wrong anyway.) The Seahawks crack open the game by scoring on a Matt Hasselbeck pass to Bobby Engram late in the first quarter (3:02 left). A Marc Bulger fumble — coerced by Darryl Tapp — in the second quarter sets up the ‘Hawks in field goal range. Deion Branch rolls out on a post pattern and catches the Rams’ secondary asleep. After figuring out the Seahawks’ offensive jives from the first quarter, the Rams’ d throws multiple blitzes at Hasselbeck and Co., upending their new-for-2008 running game duo of T.J. Duckett and Julius Jones, and sacking Hasselbeck four times. Torry Holt catches a receiving touchdown to end the first half. 14-7 Seahawks at halftime. Five minutes into the second half, Steven Jackson roars down the field, bowling over multiple Seahawks in the backfield, on his way to a 39-yard touchdown. However, Seattle regains the lead off the foot of new kicker Brandon Coutu. 17-14 Seahawks. Josh Brown hits two field goals as the game ensues. With 3 minutes left in the game, the Rams leading 20-17, backed up on their own 15 yard line after a huge defensive stop for the Seahawks, has Donnie Jones punt the ball. Nate Burrleson receives the punt, but, unfortunately for the Rams, takes it to the house. Seahawks win 24-20 in usual heartbreaking fashion for the Rams.
I feel this is going to be a tight game. The Bills’ special teams is very good, which is a weak spot for the Rams. The game opens, and, what do y’know, Terrence McGee returns the kick off. 7-0 Bills. Eventually trailing 7-3 with 4 minutes to go in the first half (a Josh Brown field goal, of course), Steven Jackson runs 62 yards down the field for a touchdown, giving the Rams a 10-7 lead at the half. The third quarter leaves the game with the same score as it was at halftime. A Marc Bulger interception — his first of the year — to open the third quarter is returned by none other than Terrence McGee (two touchdowns for the man — a punt return and an interception return; not too shabby). With the Bills leading 14-10, run after run by Steven Jackson. With Jackson not slowing down or the Bills making any smart adjustments with their front four to better protect their lead, the Rams make a questionable move by passing the ball. However, Marc Bulger completes a 22-yard touchdown strike to rookie Donnie Avery (his first career reception). The Rams lead 17-14 with 7:23 to go in the fourth, Trent Edwards completes multiple passes over the middle to Roscoe Parrish, Lee Evans and Josh Reed. With the Rams looking to make a stop on a long 3rd and 14 play, a swing pass to Marshawn Lynch is completed for 12 yards. 4th and 2; with the ball on the Rams’ 39, Rian Lindell nails a long, long field goal to tie the game up at 17. The Rams are given 3:24 to work with. The offense starts to show bouts of life like they did in the previous drive. Stop-and-go plays to Torry Holt, corner routes to Drew Bennett gives the Rams the ball at the Bills’ 47. The Rams allow the clock to elapse to the 2 minute warning. Steven Jackson takes two consecutive handoffs and moves the ball to the Bills’ 38. 3rd and 1 to go. Bulger tosses the ball to Jackson in the far flats, and Jackson busts a spin move and runs forward, evading two Bills in the backfield. A first down is ensconced, and Jackson gains 8 yards out of the play. The Bills are without any timeouts. Jackson takes another handoff for a solid three yards. From the Bills’ 27, three seconds left in the game, Josh Brown hits a game winner for the Rams. 20-17.
And so the Rams split the first four games and stand at 2-2 on the young season.