Without much time to handicap any games yesterday, I took a one day break to recharge the batteries heading into football season. I was at the Patriots vs. Lions game on Thursday night and did however cash a ticket in that contest. It’s pretty bad when people sitting around you are questioning who the heck these third stringers are, but I still vividly remember them from their college days. Primarily of course from handicapping college football games, so thank you for that gambling. It has been a week since my last official NFL pick on the blog, which hit thanks to Cardinals covering against the Cowboys.
A fairly entertaining game awaits us tonight, as the Denver Broncos are in primetime for the 3rd week of the preseason. The 3rd game of the preseason is always the most watchable game of the preseason, well, hopefully you didn’t catch any of that mess of a Seahawks/Packers game, though. Ugly. The St. Louis Rams will make the trip to the Mile High city of Denver, Colorado to try and look impressive in their dress rehearsal for the regular season. The Rams are one of those teams know one believes in, but if everything comes together they could surprise one or two people.
Rams vs. Broncos Betting Odds:
St. Louis Rams +6.5 (-105)
@ Denver Broncos -6.5 (-115)
Betting odds provided by Bovada.lv
Rams vs. Broncos Pick:
If the St. Louis Rams are going to surprise those one or two people as I was just alluding to, it starts and ends with quarterback Sam Bradford. It’s time for Bradford to take command of the Rams’ offense and prove why they took him as the 1st overall pick of the 2010 draft. He’s not bad by any means, but when you spend a 1st overall pick on a guy, you expect more than average numbers. Bradford will be entering his fourth year as a pro after a successful career at the University of Oklahoma as a Sooner. He put up big numbers under head coach Bob Stoops, but it’s always a dangerous proposition taking a quarterback that operates out of one of those shotgun dink-and-dunk to the sideline kind of offenses, which is essentially what Big 12 football is. They never take a snap from under center, and often look like a 14 year-old boy leaning in for his first kiss the first time they do so. If you watched Landry Jones play Monday night you know exactly what I’m talking about.
Bradford is definitely over that phase in his career, but still doesn’t have great numbers to show for it. While he is a solid quarterback, he hasn’t had the best talent to toss the rock to. Bradford is not a player that is going to make those around him better, ala Tom Brady. If Bradford was drafted by the Lions and had Calvin Johnson at his disposal then yes, his numbers would probably look along the lines of Matthew Stafford. Unfortunately, all Bradford has had is a bevy of small quick receivers that don’t exactly strike fear into opposing defenses. Yes, he had Danny Amendola, but again, he is a small receiver that will look much better having Tom Brady as his quarterback. So what did the Rams do? They went out and drafted a small quick receiver, Tavon Austin. Austin Pettis has the most experience in the Rams offense, with a whole two years under his belt, with the second riddled with injuries. Pettis caught balls from Kellen Moore at Boise State along with Titus Young. He’s a nice receiver, but once again, not exactly a number 1 target in this league, in my opinion. Sam Bradford figures to play the entire first half and maybe a series in the second half. Former Jet and veteran, Kellen Clemens, will play mop up duty to finish the game up against the Broncos’ second string defense.
Speaking of the Broncos’ defense, the Broncos are looking at a much different unit than a season ago. And I don’t mean in a good way: Von Miller will serve a six-game suspension at the start of the season; cornerback Champ Bailey is walking around on a walking boot; and linebacker Elvis Dumerville is now a Baltimore Raven. I still see people saying the Broncos are better than last year, but I’m not sure they are quite familiar with what is going on in Denver. Are they a good team? Without a doubt. Are they a shoe-in to win the Super Bowl? Heck no. For the sake of this preseason game however, Miller will be suiting up in his last significant playing time for awhile.
Conversely, the Broncos’ offense appears to look better with the addition of Wes Welker from the New England Patriots. They have attractive options all over Peyton Manning, including Eric Decker and Demaryius Thomas. They also added Montee Ball, running back out Wisconsin, who had a stellar college career. I won a wad of dough thanks to him and Russell Wilson together two years ago. Ball got drafted by the right team, a team that can take just about any back and get good numbers from. While that all looks great, there is one component to this team that may doom them. The fact is the Broncos are down to Manny Ramirez at center, no I am not kidding, he will be their starting center for at least the start of the center. Ramirez, the football player, who has played as a guard his whole career will try and make the transition to center after their previous two options failed. Receiver Wes Welker will also be absent for the rest of the preseason, as he got banged up against the Seahawks last week. Second year quarterback Brock Osweiler out of Arizona State, who has a cannon for an arm, will enter for the game for Manning following his departure following the second half, presumably.
While it’s only preseason, the Broncos got absolutely worked last week in Seattle, a 40-10 shellacking. I expect the Broncos to come out with a little more intensity against the Rams on national television at home in front of their own crowd. This will be the last test Von Miller has until week 7, so I can see him having a solid outing. The Rams’ second string quarterback option makes me want to vomit all over my keyboard. Kellen Clemens should have retired after his long stint as a backup with the New York Jets, but is still managing to keep a job in the NFL. If Bradford goes down to injury, which he has been accustomed to in his career, the Rams are screwed. I like Manning and company to hold a sizable lead at halftime, with Osweiler edging Clemens out in the second half. 6.5 is one of the bigger spreads you’ll find for a preseason game, but I think the Broncos take this one by about 10 points. I’ll be happy to lay the points for Saturday night.
PICK: Broncos -6.5 (-115)