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Posts Tagged ‘st. louis rams’

It’s been quite a while since I’ve been able to say that I’ll be watching the Rams play in a game that really matters in the grand scheme of things in the NFL.  They last made the playoffs six years ago and posted the worst combined three-year record going into this season.  Nobody could have expected them to be playing for an NFC West title on the last Sunday of the season.

Ram

The young Rams must be ready to stake their claim to a division title tonight.

I’ve been a Rams fan since I was a little boy.  They are the one team that I can say I am a life long fan off.  How does a boy growing up in Central New York become a Los Angeles Rams fan?  My older brother liked them and so I decided I was going to like them as well.  And I’ve supported them in good times and bad.

I loved Eric Dickerson and then Jim Everett.  I hated the 49ers…and I still do.  I watched them play terrible football in the 90’s while I took them to Super Bowls in Madden on the PlayStation.  And I experienced the magical ’99 season when Kurt Warner and Marshall Faulk took them to a real Super Bowl.  I’ll always remember that day.  I was a ball of excitement and nervousness.  And when the Rams won I think I mostly felt disbelief.  After those many years of fandom it was wonderful to have the Rams holding up the Lombardi trophy as NFL champions.

But, bringing it back to today, the Rams have far surpassed my expectations for this season.  I picked them to be 4-12.  My hopes for the year were that the Rams would win a few more games, show some solid improvement on defense and protect Sam Bradford. 

I’ve gotten the chance to watch a couple of their complete games.  I’ve been very impressed with what Bradford has done with limited weapons and with what Coach Steve Spagnuolo has been able to do with the defense. 

Here are the three key things the Rams need to do to win tonight:

  1. Be rock solid on kick and punt coverage.  Leon Washington is always a threat for the Seahawks in the return game.  He’s returned three kickoffs for touchdowns this season while averaging 25.9 yards per kickoff return and 14.0 on punt returns.  The Rams gave up a punt return for a touchdown just last week to Ted Ginn Jr.
  2. Protect Sam Bradford.  The Seahawks are tied for 12th in the NFL with 34 sacks and Chris Clemons is also tied for 12th among players with 10.5 sacks.  The Rams offensive linemen have to win their battles with the Seattle defensive linemen and linebackers.
  3. Mix up defensive looks and blitzes.  Charlie Whitehurst is inexperienced at quarterback.  The more looks and blitzes Spags throws at him the more likely he is to make bad decisions that result in turnovers.

So those are the three things I’ll be focusing on tonight.  You may have noticed that I did not make a prediction for the game.  I won’t make predictions for Rams games – I think it’s bad karma.

I’d be happy to hear your thoughts.  Feel free to post a comment below.

Photo source: Rennett Stowe

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With NFL playoff berths on the line, week 16 was absolutely critical for teams that hoped to compete in the postseason.  Some squads stepped up (Packers, Bears, Chiefs and Rams) and others fell on their face (Chargers and Jaguars).  Let’s take a look at the performances I thought were most noteworthy.

Here are the Average Guy NFL Week 16 Awards:

Most Impressive Win

Green Bay Packers – 45-17 over the New York Giants

Lambeau Field

The Packers need to beat the Bears in Lambeau next week to sew up a playoff berth.

Most Important Win

St. Louis Rams – 25-17 over their division rival San Francisco 49ers

Worst Loss

San Diego Chargers – 20-34 at Cincinnati Bengals

Biggest Surprise

Detroit Lions

Biggest Disappointment

Jacksonville Jaguars

Offensive MVP

Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers – 25 completions 37 attempts 404 yards 4 TDs 139.9 QB rating 2 carries 26 yards

Defensive MVP

Chris Harris, Chicago Bears – 1 interception 1 fumble recovery 11 tackles

Special Teams MVP

Jacoby Ford, Oakland Raiders – 99-yard kickoff return for TD 5 kickoff returns 188 yards

Most Surprising Performance

Carson Palmer, Cincinnati Bengals – 16 completions 21 attempts 269 yards 4 TDs 157.2 QB rating

Most Disappointing Performance

Eli Manning, New York Giants – 17 completions 33 attempts 301 yards 2 TDs 4 interceptions 63.6 QB rating

Offensive Rookie

Sam Bradford, St. Louis Rams – 28 completions 37 attempts 292 yards 1 TD 107.0 QB rating fumble lost

Defensive Rookie

Eric Berry, Kansas City Chiefs – 54-yard interception return for a TD 4 tackles

Most Impressive Performance in a Loss

Michael Crabtree, San Francisco 49ers – 6 receptions 122 yards 1 TD

Quick Takes

  • I watched the entire Jets-Bears game today.  It was an excellent matchup but I was surprised that it turned into shootout.  I expected much more of a defensive battle. 
  • The Bears started with a lot of momentum and took a 10-0 lead in the first quarter.  The Jets owned the second quarter, scoring 24 points and taking a 24-17 lead into halftime.
  • Jay Cutler was on fire in the third quarter, throwing three touchdowns and propelling the Bears to a 38-31 lead.  But then the defenses stepped up in the fourth quarter.  The only scoring was a field goal by the Jets.  It wasn’t enough, and the Bears got a big victory over the team that just won in Pittsburgh last week.
  • Mark Sanchez looked good today.  His throws were crisp and he was making good, quick decisions.  The Jets also did a good job integrating the Wildcat into the offensive game plan.  On defense, they really struggled to generate a pass rush without major blitzes.
  • The Bears offensive line has really improved.  They did a good job of protecting Cutler and giving him time to make his throws.
  • Of course, while I was watching that game I was tracking the 49ers-Rams game on the computer.  I was psyched when the Rams got off to a good start but they let up the two big plays and made it too close.  It’s always great to beat the Niners, but especially today with everything that was on the line. 
  • I really hope the Rams can win in Seattle next weekend for the obvious reason that I’d love to see them win the division and make the playoffs but also because I think it’s important for the NFC West winner to at least have a .500 record.
  • What a strange week this will be – with the rescheduling of the Vikings-Eagles game there will be NFL games on five days in week 16 – Thursday, Saturday, Sunday, Monday and Tuesday.
  • Couldn’t believe it when I heard on the Giants-Packers telecast that Eli Manning has 29 turnovers this season.
  • A couple of other considerations for Offensive MVP this week – Matt Cassel and Matt Forte were also very impressive – but I had to go with Rodgers.
  • Jeez, the Patriots are good enough, but when you give up seven turnovers how in the world can you expect to compete Buffalo?

One BIG Question

After the last two weeks will the Giants have anything left to give next Sunday?

Let me know what sticks out to you about week 16 by posting a comment below.

Photo source: Brian Giesen

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The Sunday portion of NFL week 12 has been thrilling.  Through the first 11 games of the day (with Chargers-Colts being played), eight games have ended with a score differential of a touchdown or less.  Five of the six early games are included in that total.  This is what the NFL is all about.  I guess it makes up for a rather ho-hum Thanksgiving slate.

With the Sunday and Monday night games still to be played, here are the Average Guy NFL Week 12 Awards:

Most Impressive Win

Chicago Bears – 31-26 over the Philadelphia Eagles

Eli Manning Warming Up

Eli Manning and the Giants rallied for a critical win on Sunday

Most Important Win

New York Giants – 24-20 over the Jacksonville Jaguars

Worst Loss

Tennessee Titans – 20-0 at the Houston Texans

Biggest Surprise

St. Louis Rams

Biggest Disappointment

Oakland Raiders

Offensive MVP

Jay Cutler, Chicago Bears – 14 completions 21 attempts 247 yards 4 TDs 146.2 QB rating 7 carries 17 yards

Defensive MVP

Terrell Thomas, New York Giants – 1 interception 1 sack 6 tackles

Special Teams MVP

Brad Smith, New York Jets – 89-yard kickoff return TD

Most Surprising Performance

Chad Henne, Miami Dolphins – 17 completions 30 attempts 307 yards 2 TDs 1 interception 100.3 QB rating

Most Disappointing Performance

Chris Johnson, Tennessee Titans – 7 carries 5 yards 2 receptions 2 yards

Offensive Rookie

Sam Bradford, St. Louis Rams – 22 completions 37 attempts 308 yards 3 TDs 113.3 QB rating

Defensive Rookie

Jason Pierre-Paul, New York Giants – 2 sacks, 8 tackles

Most Impressive Performance in a Loss

Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers – 26 completions 35 attempts 344 yards 1 TD 114.5 QB rating 12 carries 51 yards 1 TD

Quick Takes

  • The local FOX affiliate had to show the Panthers-Browns game so there was no watching the Packers-Falcons matchup.  So instead I tuned in for the whole Jaguars-Giants game and it was a good one.
  • Jacksonville had complete control in the first half.  David Garrard excelled and the Jaguars O-line opened up hole after hole for the backs while the New York defense seemed to have missed their wake up call.  Jacksonville piled up 145 yards on the ground through the first two quarters.
  • The second half was a different story.  The Giants defense caught a lucky break early with the Terrell Thomas interception and showed a much greater sense of urgency.  They blitzed quite a bit and it was particularly successful in the last few minutes of the game as they repeatedly hit Garrard.
  • One Jacksonville player I was really impressed with who doesn’t get much PT was the running back Rashad Jennings.  He has the patience to let the blocking develop and then explode.  That is a skill that is not often seen at that level in such a young ball carrier.
  • The absolute key to the Giants win? Zero turnovers.
  • Of course I’m very excited that the Rams beat the Broncos in Denver, but boy it was nerve racking. I was following the game online as the Rams let the Broncos get closer and closer and closer.  I was sure they were going to fold like they did in San Francisco.  Then FOX switched to live coverage after the Eagles-Bears game was over.  I was thrilled to see the defense finally get the stop they needed.  Now the Rams are back in first place in the NFC West.
  • Miami really stopped Oakland’s running game.  If you take away Jacoby Ford’s 13-yard run the Dolphins held the Raiders to just three yards on 11 carries…hard to believe.
  • I predicted the Chiefs would fall in Seattle.  I was clearly wrong.  What a game for Matt Cassel, Jamaal Charles and Dwayne Bowe.

One BIG Question

Which game is bigger next week – Steelers at Ravens on Sunday night or Jets at Patriots on Monday night?  Let me know which one you are looking forward to more.

Photo source: Marianne O’Leary

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With all the byes behind us, all 32 NFL teams are playing in week 11.  It got off to a surprising start, at least to me, with the Bears dominating the Dolphins in Miami.  With a packed slate, the action on Sunday was happening fast and furiously. There were some big matchups and some telling results.

Devin Hester

The Bears are finding more ways to make their opponents worry

With the very important Giants-Eagles game currently being played, here are the Average Guy NFL Week 11 Awards:

Most Impressive Win

Green Bay Packers – 31-3 at the Minnesota Vikings

Most Important Win

Chicago Bears – 16-0 at the Miami Dolphins

Worst Loss

Cincinnati Bengals – 31-49 to the Buffalo Bills

Biggest Surprise

Washington Redskins

Biggest Disappointment

San Francisco 49ers

Offensive MVP

Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers – 22 completions 31 attempts 301 yards 4 TDs 141.3 QB rating 3 carries 21 yards

Defensive MVP

Julius Peppers, Chicago Bears – 3 sacks 6 tackles

Special Teams MVP

Bryan McCann, Dallas Cowboys – 97-yard punt return TD, 2 kickoff returns for 55 yards

Most Surprising Performance

Jacksonville Jaguars Defense – held Browns to 88 yards on 27 carries

Most Disappointing Performance

Brandon Marshall, Miami Dolphins – 3 receptions 41 yards (+ penalties and dropped passes)

Offensive Rookie

Chris Ivory, New Orleans Saints – 23 carries 99 yards 1 TD

Defensive Rookie

T.J. Ward, Cleveland Browns – 2 interceptions, 5 tackles

Most Impressive Performance in a Loss

Matt Hasselbeck, Seattle Seahawks – 32 completions 44 attempts 366 yards 1 TD 104.9 QB rating

Welcome Back Mike Williams

Mike Williams, Seattle Seahawks – 6 receptions 109 yards

Quick Takes

  • I watched the bulk of the Redskins-Titans game.  I was really impressed with the play of the Redskins offensive line, especially because injuries led to a patchwork group.  They did a very good job of protecting Donovan McNabb and opening up holes for the running backs.  Kyle Shanahan clearly put together an excellent offensive game plan.
  • It was a real shame that Vince Young got hurt.  He was throwing a good ball before the injury.  I don’t know what the heck happend after that though.
  • Rusty Smith is not ready for primetime.  Not even close.
  • Of course, a stat that I always like to look at is third down conversions.  Coming into the game in Tennessee, Washington was last in the NFL on third down conversions at 22%.  In today’s win they converted 50% and it made a big difference in the game.
  • On the topic of third down conversions – they were definitely a factor in the Falcons-Rams game.  Atlanta converted nine of 17, while St. Louis was only one of 10.
  • I was glad to hear some NFL pundits considering a pick of the Rams.  It shows the progress the franchise has made this season.  But the Falcons are just too good to lose that game.
  • The Steelers showed that they truly do have one of the best defenses in the NFL, holding the recently explosive Raiders to just 182 total yards.
  • I was definitely impressed by the Bears and Bucs this week who showed that they are for real by posting shutouts on somebody else’s turf.
  • The Chiefs, Jaguars and Redskins all sent a message not to count them out yet.
  • Shovel the dirt on the Bengals and Vikings.  They are done.

One BIG Question

Can the Dolphins and Titans climb back into the playoff race?  Or are they done now too?

Let me know your week 11 thoughts by posting a comment below.

Photo source: Monica’s Dad

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Halloween was all treats and no tricks for me as I got to watch the Rams beat the Panthers.  It was the first time I’ve watched them since they beat the Redskins.  I saw a lot of positives and will share my observations below in the Quick Takes.

Let’s get right to the Average Guy’s NFL Week Eight Awards:

Waving the Packers flag

The Packers got a huge win on Sunday

Most Impressive Win

Green Bay Packers – 9-0 over the New York Jets

Most Important Win

San Diego Chargers – 33-25 over the Tennessee Titans

Worst Loss

Dallas Cowboys – 17-35 to the Jacksonville Jaguars in Dallas

Biggest Surprise

Oakland Raiders

Biggest Disappointment

Washington Redskins

They Are Who We Thought They Were

Arizona Cardinals

Offensive MVP

Calvin Johnson, Detroit Lions – 9 receptions 101 yards 3 TDs

Defensive MVP

Aqib Talib, Tampa Bay Buccaneers – 45-yard interception return for TD 2 interceptions 5 tackles

Special Teams MVP

Dan Carpenter, Miami Dolphins – 5 field goals

Most Surprising Performance

Jason Campbell, Oakland Raiders – 15 completions 27 attempts 310 yards 2 TDs 120.9 QB rating

Most Disappointing Performance

Seattle Seahawks offensive line

Offensive Rookie

Sam Bradford, St. Louis Rams – 25 completions 32 attempts 191 yards  TDs 112.4 QB rating

Defensive Rookie

Ndamukong Suh, Detroit Lions – 17-yard fumble recovery return for TD 2 sacks 5 tackles

Most Impressive Performance in a Loss

Brandon Lloyd, Denver Broncos – 7 receptions 169 yards 1 TD

Welcome Back Mike Williams

Mike Williams, Tampa Bay Buccaneers – 4 receptions 105 yards 1 TD

Quick Takes

  • From watching the Rams I can tell you that when he gets some more talented receivers around him, Sam Bradford is going to be unbelievable.  He makes good decisions, puts the ball where it needs to be, buys time by scrambling and exhibits strong leadership.
  • I was really impressed with the Rams defense.  It has improved quite a bit just in the weeks since the win over the Redskins.  Chris Long and James Hall are getting good pressure, the linebackers are reading plays quickly and the secondary showed some good one-on-one skill and an eye for the ball.  The only concerning thing was their two-minute defense, which gave up some big plays.
  • The tackling from both the Rams and Panthers was excellent.
  • Today was Isaac Bruce day in St. Louis.  It was great to a see a player who was one of my favorites for about a decade back on the Rams’ sideline.
  • This is now almost a weekly thing – I have to give big props to Steven Jackson for being out on the field and turning in an inspired performance just four days after having surgery on his left ring finger.
  • The two games that shocked me the most – Green Bay shutting out the Jets and Oakland blowing out Seattle.
  • I think the third down conversion statistic is one of the most important stats in the game.  Consider: Buffalo converted 11 of 23 third downs and almost beat Kansas City; San Diego converted on 12 of 18 third downs and beat Tennessee; and Seattle was one of 16 on third downs and lost to Oakland.

One BIG Question

Can Mark Sanchez find the form that helped him lead the Jets to wins over the Patriots and Dolphins?

What performances did you think were Sunday’s best?  Let me know by posting a comment below.

Photo source: Paul Kehrer

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While there were still some surprising results, this Sunday was nothing like the muddled mess of last Sunday in the NFL.  I’m not sure there will be a point at all this season where we will be able to say that we understand the true NFL pecking order, at least not with real confidence or without having to eat those words a week or two later. 

As the Colts and Redskins are playing, here are the Average Guy’s NFL Week Six Awards:

Most Impressive Win

Philadelphia Eagles – 31-17 over the Atlanta Falcons

Philadelphia Eagles slogan

Today was a great day for Eagles fans.

Most Important Win

Minnesota Vikings – 24-21 besting the Dallas Cowboys

Worst Loss

Chicago Bears – 20-23 at home to the Seattle Seahawks

Biggest Surprise

St. Louis Rams

Biggest Disappointment

Dallas Cowboys

They Are Who We Thought They Were

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Offensive MVP

Kevin Kolb, Philadelphia Eagles – 23 completions 29 attempts 326 yards 3 TDs 1 interception 133.6 QB rating

Defensive MVP

Cameron Wake, Miami Dolphins – 3 sacks 6 QB hits

Special Teams MVP

Percy Harvin, Minnesota Vikings – 95-yard kickoff return for a TD

Most Surprising Performance

Deion Branch, New England Patriots – 9 receptions 98 yards 1 TD

Most Disappointing Performance

Atlanta Falcons defense – 474 total yards 320 passing yards 154 rushing yards 1 sack

Offensive Rookie

Chris Ivory, New Orleans Saints – 15 carries 158 yards 1 reception 17 yards

Defensive Rookie

Jermaine Cunningham, New England Patriots – 1 sack 6 tackles

Most Impressive Performance in a Loss

Joe Flacco, Baltimore Ravens – 27 completions 35 attempts 285 yards 2 TDs 119.3 QB rating

Welcome Back Mike Williams

Mike Williams, Seattle Seahawks – 10 receptions 123 yards

Quick Takes

  • I watched almost all of the Ravens-Patriots game.  I was impressed with the Ravens early and the Patriots late.  In the second half the Pats had their offense running on all cylinders.  I think they take pride in having a bunch of “no-names” tearing up defenses, so the trade of Randy Moss puts them in that situation.  NFL defenses better look out.
  • It’s abundantly clear that New England also has a lot of young talent on defense.  They essentially started four 2010 draft picks today.  They are going to experience growing pains this season, but if they can mature by the playoffs the rest of the NFL is really going to be in trouble.
  • The Bears took a bad loss at home against the Seahawks.  Their 0-12 performance on third downs had a lot to do with it.
  • There’s been a lot of talk this week about concerns with the Packers because of their long injury list.  They really missed their sack machine Clay Mathews today.  Green Bay had zero sacks against Miami.
  • I am shocked, okay make it incredibly shocked, that the Rams had seven sacks today.  After laying a colossal egg at Detroit last week I’m really impressed with the way they came back against the Chargers.
  • A very productive running game was a huge asset today for the Saints.  They gouged Tampa Bay for 212 yards on 32 carries.  New Orleans also converted nine of 12 third downs.
  • If you told me that the Vikings defense would not get a single sack today I would have told you that there’s no way they could win the game.  Yet, they didn’t, and they did.

One BIG Question

Are the Cowboys done?  They are 1-4 overall, 0-2 in their division, two and a half games behind the Giants and Eagles, and have a huge problem with penalties and turnovers.  In their next four games they play the Giants twice and go to Green Bay.

What are your thoughts on week six?  Who impressed or disappointed you?  Let me know by posting a comment below.

Photo source: mel_rowling

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What a strange day of football. It is appearing more and more like this will be the NFL season of uncertainty. Just when you think you have a good feeling for a team they go out and do exactly the opposite of what was expected.

Uncertainty

Trying to decipher this NFL season?

For the first time in 40 years not a single NFL team achieved a 4-0 record. The Chiefs were the last team with a shot at that mark and I watched them lose to the Colts. Kansas City had plenty of opportunities to win the game but could not take advantage of them.

As I was looking at candidates for this week’s Average Guy NFL Awards I had a lot more for the negative awards on both the team and player sides than I had for the positive awards. Regardless, here are my choices:

Most Impressive Win

New York Giants – 34-10 at Houston Texans

Most Important Win

Indianapolis Colts – 19-9 over Kansas City Chiefs

Worst Loss

New Orleans Saints – 20-30 at Arizona Cardinals

Biggest Surprise

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Biggest Disappointment

San Diego Chargers

They Are Who We Thought They Were

St. Louis Rams

Offensive MVP

Ray Rice, Baltimore Ravens – 27 carries 133 yards 2 TDs 4 receptions 26 yards

Defensive MVP

LaRon Landry, Washington Redskins – 1 interception 13 tackles 1 tackle for loss

Special Teams MVP

Stefan Logan, Detroit Lions – 105-yard kickoff return touchdown

Most Surprising Performance

Jason Campbell, Oakland Raiders – 13 completions 18 attempts 159 yards 1 TD 117.6 QB rating

Most Disappointing Performance

Todd Collins, Chicago Bears – 6 completions 16 attempts 32 yards 4 interceptions 6.2 QB rating

Offensive Rookie

Mike Williams, Tampa Bay Buccaneers – 7 receptions 99 yards 1 TD

Defensive Rookie

Cody Grimm, Tampa Bay Buccaneers – 11-yard interception return for touchdown, 11 tackles

Most Impressive Performance in a Loss

Kyle Orton, Denver Broncos – 23 completions 38 attempts 314 yards 2 TDs 104.5 QB Rating

Quick Takes

  • After watching the Chiefs play today I think they are really in it for the long haul.  Their defensive game plan was superb.  Tamba Hali was a beast.  The defensive line looked stout in the second half and they have a good young secondary.  Jamaal Charles has impressive speed and explosion, but goes down too easily.  Dexter McCluster is exciting to watch as a kick returner.  I’m worried about their passing game though.  They didn’t mix in enough short passes to Charles and McCluster.  Rookie tight end Tony Moeaki looked like their only dependable receiver.  Dwayne Bowe dropped a touchdown and another pass.  Also, for the life of me I could not understand why they’d be running pitches with Thomas Jones when they have Charles and McCluster.
  • I’m not sure what it was but something was clearly off with Peyton Manning today.  I’ve never seen him so inaccurate.
  • Painful day for the Rams.  That’s all I want to say about it.
  • Wondering why the Cowboys lost?  Look no further than their 12 penalties for 133 yards and their three turnovers.
  • And one big reason the Titans won – zero turnovers.
  • And another, the good Chris Johnson was back with 19 carries for 131 yards and two touchdowns.
  • Thank goodness I did not have to watch the Bears-Panthers game today.  The two teams combined to go six of 33 on third downs, not to mention the abysmal quarterback performances.

One BIG Question

Have you ever seen so many coaches looking like they could be fired this early in the season?  I’m thinking it’s possible in Dallas, Cincinnati, San Francisco and San Diego.

What performances did you like or dislike in week five?  Let me know in the comments section below.

Photo source: Marco Bellucci

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