With a fresh slate and some unappreciated depth at the QB position, St. Louis could be a surprise team in 2015 under the direction of great Head Coach Jeff Fisher.
You seldom, if ever, see NFL teams trading starting QBs, but that’s exactly what these St. Louis Rams and the Philadelphia Eagles did this Offseason with Nick Foles coming to the Gateway City to lead the Rams in the NFC West and oft-injured Sam Bradford heading east to the City of Brotherly Love and the Eagles in the NFC East.
Let’s look at who’s new for St. Louis, some relevant Betting Trends as well as some spots on the schedule where the Rams may be a good team to back, or maybe fade, depending on the situation. Go deep, brother. I can see that you’re wide open.
St. Louis Rams: A Team Made in the Image of Its Beloved Head Coach, Jeff Fisher
The St. Louis Rams (6-10 in 2014) have one of the best Head Coaches in the NFL in 4th-year man Jeff Fisher (25-23 ATS), and now General Manager Les Snead and Fisher have a solid QB—in Nick Foles—in which they can potentially build an Offense around and not worry about an Injury derailing the whole damn season as seemed to be the reality when Sam Bradford (now with the Eagles) was under Center. As a matter of fact, this Rams teams probably possesses the greatest Depth and maybe in Combined Talent in the NFL at the QB spot heading into this season, with four decent players now on the St. Louis roster at this vital, injury-prone position. Depth at the QB spot can never be underestimated, and when the defending Super Bowl champion New England Patriots heard that star QB Tom Brady was to be suspended for 4 games sometime in this coming 2015 NFL Regular Season, Head Coach Bill Belichick was real glad he had/has Jimmy Garoppolo waiting in the wings and ready to step right in. And now with former Eagles starter Foles (62.2 Total QBR, #13), Austin Davis, Case Keenum and Rookie Sean Mannion (Oregon State), the Rams (50/1 to win Super Bowl, William Hill) are one of those teams that will be able to deal with Injuries or Slumps at the QB position, and with Davis, Keenum and the talented rookie Mannion, it’s no foregone conclusion that Foles will end up being the starter in The Long Run for this team. All these guys are good and have potential and could be the Rams starting QB and maybe lead them to some much-deserved prosperity.
With the Arizona Cardinals (11-5) possibly playing way over their heads last season and possibly being on the Downswing in 2015 and the San Francisco 49ers (8-8) going through so much change in the Offseason and seeing many familiar faces either leave via Free Agency or Retirement, the Rams look to be on the rise in the NFC West, and, although they lost their L3 games of the season to finish at a disappointing 6-10, St.Louis (9/1 to win NFC West, Sky Bet) could surprise in 2015. But the Offense will have to be more productive and catching the division-winning and defending NFC champion Seattle Seahawks (12-4) seems like a Pipe Dream for Now, although the Rams definitely aren’t the least bit scared of the Seahawks and split with them last season, winning 28-26 as 7-point dogs at Home in St. Louis and losing to them, 20-6 at CenturyLink in Week 17 (Regular Season finale) as 11-point underdogs. Woof. One marketplace where the Rams have drawn some betting interest is in the Regular Season Team Win Totals (Rams 8, Over -110, Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook), and a big part of the reason why the number opened at 8 is confidence from both Oddsmakers and Wiseguys that this team is better than the 6-win team they were last season. And the schedule offers opportunities for Wins, and even the two oddball games on the Rams Regular Schedule—at the NFC East’s Redskins (4-12 in 2014) in Week 2 and versus the NFC South’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-14) at Home in St. Louis in Week 15—offer a great opportunity for two bonus Wins if the Rams (5-10 ATS L2 seasons as Road Underdogs) can pull them off.
For St. Louis (50/1 to win NFC, Ladbrokes) to pull it all together and make that awaited great step forward, it will need to avoid the rash of Injuries which have plagued the team over the L2 seasons, often forcing Fisher to play with patch-work starting units on both sides of the football. I believe that St. Louis’ OL was so beat up last season that Popeye and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie got a couple starts at Left Tackle, but my eyesight is getting bad and I could be mistaken. (A thorough Google search provided no proof of my blatant Lie.) For the Rams so far, playing in the NFC West alongside the defending NFC champion Seahawks, the 49ers and Cardinals has been a real challenge, but this looks like it could be the season where the Rams finally evolve some and the Cardinals and 49ers could regress. St. Louis could use some more decent skill position players with Kenny Britt and Tavon Austin slated to be starting WRs, but taking RB Tim Gurley (Georgia) with their top pick in the Draft was a brilliant move for the Rams, and with RB Tre Mason (765 rushing yards), give St. Louis a formidable duo. Hopefully for the Rams, Gurley’s knee issues won’t stifle his NFL career. So, expect a healthy Rushing game from the Rams (7-9 ATS, 2-4 SU and ATS NFC West) is, an improved Passing attack, a solid and improved Defense—St. Louis was -2 in Turnover Differential Margin—and, if the OL can improve—the team loaded up on OL in the NFL Draft (see below)—the Rams could very well get to that .500 mark this season, especially with the 49ers and Cardinals possibly slipping some in the wild, wild NFC West.
St. Louis Rams QB Depth: Nick Foles—Austin Davis—Case Keenum—Sean Mannion
Who’s New and Could Have an Impact? Free Agent Signing DT Nick Fairley (Lions), Trade-Acquisition QB Nick Foles (Eagles), Rookie RB Tim Gurley (Georgia), Rookie QB Sean Mannion (Oregon State), Rookie OT Rob Havenstein (Wisconsin), Rookie OT Jamon Brown (Louisville), Rookie OT Andrew Donnal (Iowa), Rookie OG Cody Wichmann (Fresno State), ILB Bryce Hager (Baylor), DE Martin Ifedi (Memphis)
Possible Wins on Schedule: Week 2: @ Redskins; Week 4: @ Cardinals; Week 7: Browns; Week 8: 49ers; Week 9: @ Vikings; Week 10: Bears; Week 12: @ Bengals; Week 13: Cardinals; Week 14: Lions; Week 15: Buccaneers; Week 17: @ 49ers
Some Good Potential Betting Spots in Regular Season: Because the Washington Redskins have been so poor of late and because the Rams may be on the Upswing, taking St. Louis and probably a point or two as underdogs in Week 2 at FedEx Field in Landover (Maryland) may be a good idea as the Rams are 6-1 ATS L7 against the Redskins and 4-1 ATS L5 Away at Washington. Also, with St. Louis going 3-0 ATS L3 at Home against the Seahawks and winning outright (28-26) last season at Home at the Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis, maybe grabbing the 3½ points (Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook, Station Casinos) in Week 1 in the Gateway City is the betting prescription? For me, that’s just not enough (points) with TE Jimmy Graham (Saints) joining the NFC-champs Seattle Seahawks this Offseason and it being the first game of the season with the hosts likely having a harder time surprising the Russell Wilson and Seattle. And, backing the Rams on the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook NFL Games of the Year here in scorching Sin City in Week 15 and laying the 7 points at Home when they play the lowly Buccaneers—owners of the worst record (2-14) in the NFL last year—at the Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis seems prudent from afar with Tampa Bay possibly really depressed at that late juncture in the NFL Regular Season and having to travel to the Gateway City and play indoors in a Dome and on Turf (GameDay Grass).
Any Good Rams Futures Bets Now? The Rams Regular Season Team Win Total (Over) would be a nice bet to make if the number opened up at 7 or 7½, but the Oddsmakers, as is usually the case, are too sharp and opened it up at 8. Any chance to maybe make some money on this (Over) evaporated when an 8 hit the board as a 9-7 season could happen but would take a complete flip-flop of the Niners and Cards perceived pecking order in the NFC West.
Recent Relevant Trends: Rams 4-0-1 ATS L5 vs Bengals, 3-1 L4 Away; Rams 6-1 ATS L7 vs Redskins, 4-1 ATS L5 Away; Rams 5-1 ATS L6 vs Buccaneers; Rams 2-6 ATS L8 vs Steelers; Rams 1-7 ATS L8 Away vs Seahawks, but St. Louis 3-0 ATS L3 at Home vs Seattle; Rams 0-4 ATS L4 vs Cardinals, 1-4 L5 ATS Home
Players to Watch: Trade-Acquisition QB Nick Foles (Eagles), Rookie RB Tim Gurley (Georgia), Rookie QB Sean Mannion (Oregon State), RB Tre Mason, WR Brian Quick, WR Tavon Austin, WR Kenny Britt, Rookie OT Rob Havenstein (Wisconsin), Rookie OT Jamon Brown (Louisville), Rookie OT Andrew Donnal (Iowa), CB Janoris Jenkins, MLB James Laurinaitis, DE Chris Long, K Greg Zuerlein
St. Louis Rams NFL Games of the Year Pick: St. Louis Rams -7 over Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Week 15 (Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook)