Surprisingly the Bears turned in a complete no-show last night in Seattle. In what was heralded as a match-up between an up-and-coming NFC squad in Chicago, and the defending champions in Seattle, you’d think the Bears would show more but that just wasn’t the case. Chicago again looked puzzled on offense, while their run defense was continually gashed. Those are a few areas they’ll need to definitely shore up before the first week of September. Meanwhile, the Seahawks were still the Seahawks. A dominant team in every aspect of the game, and no matter the situation, Pete Carroll’s Seahawks always show up to win.
Today there is a full slate of Saturday games in Week 3 of the pre-season. As s traditionally the case, Week 3 often sees the starters play the most minutes out of any weeks. The final week of the exhibition season is typically reserved for rest for the first-teamers, so we’ll get a good look at many starters and the final chapters in lengthy positional battles. For today’s featured pick, we’ll travel to Cleveland where even though the battle at QB is finalized, it doesn’t mean the media and fan speculation about Manziel and Hoyer will stop. Their Browns will play host to an upstart St. Louis Rams squad. Read below for futher game details and our official betting prediction for the game.
Rams vs. Browns Betting Odds:
St. Louis Rams +3 (-130)
@ Cleveland Browns -3 (+110)
Over 43 (-110)
Under 43 (-110)
Betting odds provided by Bovada.lv
Rams vs. Browns Pick:
It’s been an absolute whirlwind of a camp for the Cleveland Browns, and much of that has revolved around their ongoing soap opera under centre. While Brian Hoyer has shown evidence of being a decent quarterback in the NFL, he’s been abysmal thus far in the pre-season. His play has only added fuel to the fire about when/if the rookie Manziel will be ready, and it hasn’t been a very productive situation. Both quarterbacks have struggled mightily, likely playing nowhere near their ability. As a result, the entire offense has stagnated and the promise the Browns had shown in the off-season is quickly fading away. Going against a stout Rams defense will present a firm test for the Browns top-2 quarterbacks.
St. Louis had a pair of tough games to begin their pre-season campaign – taking on a couple of offensive beasts in the Saints and the Packers. While the defense held their own, expect a dominating performance going aaggainst Cleveland. The Rams defense is quietly one of the top units in the NFL, and in 2014 they’ll prove it. With the circus currently going on in Cleveland, it’s evident that teams and specifically defenses are very motivated to shut down Johnny Manziel, and look for an inspired outing from the Rams’ defensive unit tonight.
On offense, since going first overall quarterback Sam Bradford hasn’t really lived up to the hype. THough he’s been stuck on bad teams and surrounded by inferior talent, this year could be different for the former Oklahoma Sooner. With wideout Kenny Britt now in the fold, and a more established running game, big things are expected from Bradford. St. Louis’ man under centre was precise last week against the Packers, going 9 for 12 with a touchdown in just over a quarter of action. He looked calm and was efficient, two traits that bode well for success this upcoming year. While Cleveland’s defense will provide a tough test, expect another convincing outing from the likes of Bradford, Tavon Austin, Brian Quick, and Kenny Britt. Zac Stacy was unhappy with his outing last week at running back, and should also be motivated to improve in Week 3.
The Browns were comically bad last week against the Redskins. While their defense will always be solid, with playmakers at all positions, it’s their offense that is thoroughly concerning. Even though Hoyer has now been named as the starter, you could easily argue he has had a tougher go of things than Manziel has. Hoyer has a lot more to offer than what he’s shown so far, but he needs to get on track against a Rams’ defensive line that always brings a ton of pressure. The Rams’ front seven is as fierce as they come. Not only will they stuff the run, making Hoyer and Manziel throw the ball, they’ll pressure, hurry, and sack the Browns’ quarterbacks. Alec Ogeltree, Chris Long, and James Laurinaitis all pride themselves on living in the opposing backfield, and look for that trio to be in mid-season form Saturday night.
Both starters for St. Louis and Cleveland are expected to play into the third half. There’s discussion that the starters for the Rams on defense may stay in a bit longer to ensure they face Manziel. Manziel has a style that’s similar to both Russell Wilson and Colin Kaepernick, two quarterbacks in the Rams’ division. Even though he’s struggled, Manziel represents a good test and opportunity for St. Louis to test themselves against a mobile and elusive quarterback.
Beyond the starters, look for veteran quarterback Shaun Hill to take over from Bradford. The 34-year old has gotten limited pre-season action thus far, but is a solid back-up and will be able to be effective against Cleveland’s second-teamers. With Bradford’s health and performance often in doubt, and no other viable back-up options, the status of Hill is important to the Rams’ playoff chances in 2014. The veteran has come through many times in his career, and look for him to show why in the third and fourth quarters on Saturday night.
Expect a motivated and hungry Rams performance, especially from their highly-rated defense Saturday night. Stepping into the QB circus for St. Louis will be exciting and they’ll look to silence the noise surrounding Johnny Football. This is one of the NFL’s most dominant units, and even though they don’t get the fanfare the way the Seahawks or Niners do, the Rams defense will show just how good they can be against two mediocre quarterbacks. Look for St. Louis to be in complete control in this match-up, and with three points being given on the road team, feel comfortable backing the Rams in this one.
PICK = Rams +3 (-130)