After a heart-wrenching defeat at the hands of Detroit in Week One, the St. Louis Rams are now burdened with trying to corral electrifying rookie Robert Griffin III and the suddenly high-flying Washington Redskins on Sunday. The Rams, also to be saddled with a few key injuries this week, are three-point road underdogs against the Redskins.
The Rams and new head coach Jeff Fisher nearly pulled off one of the bigger upsets in Week One against the Lions, but a Detroit touchdown pass from Matt Stafford to Calvin Johnson with 10 seconds left in the game put an end to those plans. Perhaps as interesting as the 27-23 final score was the fact the Rams did not play particularly well, yet still almost won the game.
The Associated Press pointed out a few negatives. The Rams’ 14 first downs against the Lions was the fewest in the league last week; quarterback Sam Bradford threw for only 198 yards and was sacked three times; and featured running back Stephen Jackson mustered just 53 yards on 21 carries.
Fisher has an extensive track-record of conservative football and it’s likely the Rams’ will take that approach as a strategy to keep RGIII off the field as much as possible. However, establishing the run could be difficult again this week for the Rams. Its Pro Bowl starting center, Scott Wells, is out with a broken bone in his foot, while tackle Roger Saffold, who suffered a neck injury against the Lions, is also likely out of the game
This matchup is likely to come down to who wins the battle at the line of scrimmage, which football games often do. The Rams’ need to establish Jackson in the running game while on defense, the front-seven has to get pressure on RGIII while somehow still maintaining containment. That may be too tall an order at this point for the Rams. We’re going to lay the three points and stick with the Redskins in our NFL picks.