St. Louis Rams Odds to Win the Super Bowl and Betting Futures
by Alan Matthews - 6/25/2014
This is a big season for the St. Louis Rams franchise. The team believes it is about to turn a corner after back-to-back seven-win seasons under head coach Jeff Fisher. In addition, this will likely be a make-or-break year for former No. 1 overall pick Sam Bradford. The Rams had two shots to take Johnny Manziel in the first round of May's draft -- and they reportedly loved him -- but are keeping their eggs in Bradford's fragile basket for one more season. Also, this past draft was the last payout for the bounty the Rams got for dealing the pick that landed the Washington Redskins Robert Griffin III.
It's probably too much to expect St. Louis to contend in the NFC West, where possibly the two most talented rosters in the NFL reside in San Francisco and Seattle. However, an above-.500 finish and a healthy, productive season from Bradford would be a nice step forward. The team can add some offensive weapons around him in next year's draft and free agency to go with a defense that already is extremely talented.
This is definitely the problem side of the ball. The former Heisman winner Bradford, the last No. 1 overall pick signed before the new collective bargaining agreement (i.e. he is wildly overpaid), was on his way to his best season last year. He was completing a career-high 60.7 percent of his passes for 1,687 yards, 14 touchdowns, four interceptions and a career-best 90.9 rating when he tore his ACL. The Rams were 3-4 in his seven starts. Bradford has now played 10 games or less in two of his four seasons. The good news: The two even-numbered years he has played all 16.
The Rams don't have great skill position players. Receiver Tavon Austin was a major disappointment last year as a rookie, outside of three long touchdowns, catching just 40 passes for 418 yards and four TDs. The team's leading receiver was a tight end, Jared Cook. Tight ends shouldn't be leading teams in receiving unless their name is Jimmy Graham. The Rams took a chance on former Titans receiver Kenny Britt this offseason. Maybe being reunited with Fisher will spur the former first-round pick. The running game was so-so behind Zac Stacy (250 carries, 973 yards, seven TDs). He really should be a No. 2 guy. I believe St. Louis got a steal in the third round of May's draft with Auburn running back and Heisman finalist Tre Mason. The team's No. 2 overall pick in the draft, Auburn offensive tackle Greg Robinson, likely will start his rookie year at guard before replacing Jake Long as the team's left tackle of the future.
There may not be a better defensive line in the NFL than this group. Chris Long and Robert Quinn are terrific ends. Quinn finished second in the NFL with 19 sacks last year (along with seven forced fumbles), while Long had 40 tackles and 8.5 sacks. Michael Brockers (46 tackles, 5.5 sacks) is an above-average defensive tackle, and now you put the best college defensive lineman in the nation last year, Pitt's Aaron Donald, in there next to Brockers. That front four is going to cause havoc.
The Rams are going to be one of the most attacking units in the NFL under new coordinator Gregg Williams, he of the bountygate scandal with New Orleans. St. Louis got a steal with the 30th pick of the 2013 draft in Georgia linebacker Alec Ogletree. He had 117 tackles, six forced fumbles, 1.5 sacks and an interception as a rookie. He and James Laurinaitis should often have free paths to the ball with the front four taking up so much of the offensive line's focus. The Rams also have a rising star at safety in second-year T.J. McDonald. He was limited to 10 games last year due to injury. This might be the third-best defense in the NFC .. alas, also likely the third best in the NFC West.
2014 St. Louis Rams Schedule Analysis
The Rams have the third-toughest schedule in the NFL as their opponents went a combined 144-111-1 last season, a winning percentage of .564. The only two tougher schedules: Oakland and Denver. Of course, that Rams slate is so hard because of six games inside the NFC West. St. Louis' home schedule (.566) is about the same as the road (.563). The Rams are 6-point home favorites Week 1 against the Vikings, who might be the NFC's worst team. Minnesota also was the only team without a road win in 2013 (0-7-1). The Rams were 5-3 at home and won their final three there all by double digits (Bears, Saints and Bucs). Minnesota visited St. Louis in 2012 and won 36-22 behind 212 yards rushing from Adrian Peterson. Bradford threw for 377 yards and three touchdowns but also an interception returned for a score.
The Rams have a way-too-early bye in Week 4 and if they have any true playoff hopes they need to start 3-0, and it's very doable. They should beat Minnesota, then visit Tampa Bay and host Dallas. St. Louis beat visiting Tampa Bay 23-13 in Week 16 last year but lost 31-7 in Week 3 at Dallas. Still, that's by far the easiest stretch of schedule. Post-bye, look at this killer eight-game stretch: at Eagles. vs. 49ers, vs. Seahawks, at Chiefs, at 49ers, at Cardinals, vs. Broncos, at Chargers. All but Arizona are playoff teams and the Cards won 10 games last year. That's incredibly rough. If the Rams could be 6-5 entering Week 13 that would probably be quite an accomplishment. The closing stretch isn't nearly as hard: vs. Raiders, at Redskins, vs. Cardinals, vs. Giants, at Seahawks (who may have nothing to play for).
2014 St. Louis Rams Odds to Win the Super Bowl and Futures Betting Odds
Odds courtesy of Sportsbook.ag . The Rams are +5000 to win the Super Bowl, +2700 to win the NFC championship and +800 to win the NFC West. Their wins total is set at 7.5, with the "over" a heavy -175 favorite. The Rams are -550 to make the playoffs and +400 to miss out. Bradford is +10000 to lead the league in passing, Stacy is +3000 to be No. 1 in rushing and Austin is +20000 to lead the NFL in receiving yards. Mason is +3500 to win NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year and Donald is +800 for DROY (third-favorite).
2014-15 St. Louis Rams Picks and Predictions
If only this team were in the AFC South or AFC/NFC East, then I'd like its division and wild-card chances. But four combined games against the Niners and Seahawks? Not fair. I do expect the Rams to finish third in the NFC West, with Arizona slipping back. Do I think this team is better than last year's? Yes. However, I also don't think Bradford plays more than 12 games. Can backup Shaun Hill hold down the fort? Not sold on that. The receivers are weak. Expect St. Louis to lose a lot of 21-17-type games. The Rams finish 7-9 again, but look out in 2015. Mason is good value at that price for OROY.
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Read more articles by Alan Matthews
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