Here's my question: Would the Rams redo the Nick Foles-Sam Bradford trade from last offseason with Philadelphia? Frankly, it didn't much work out for either team, but Foles was definitely worse than Bradford (Rams did also get a second-round pick). And as usual in recent years, quarterback play was the reason the Rams again underachieved in 2015 despite a very good defense.
The Rams finished 7-9 in 2015, their 12th straight non-winning season but their last in St. Louis as the team won the Los Angeles jackpot this offseason. I honestly don't know why Coach Jeff Fisher still has a job with his 27-36-1 record with the Rams. And now you hear rumblings the team is actually considering giving Fisher an extension. Huh?
As noted above, this defense is playoff-caliber without question. But Foles, a guy the Rams stupidly gave a big extension to before he had played a down with the team, was terrible in 2015 and eventually replaced by undrafted NFL journeyman Case Keenum. I applaud the Rams' aggressiveness for giving up a fortune to get the No. 1 overall pick in this year's draft from Tennessee in order to land a franchise quarterback, but I'm not sure that Cal's Jared Goff was worth it. We shall see.
The Rams wasted a great 2015 season from running back Todd Gurley, the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year. A lot of people questioned the franchise for taking him at No. 10 overall when he was coming off a serious knee injury and the team had so many holes. But that looks like a brilliant move now as Gurley could be the next coming of Eric Dickerson. I just hope the Rams don't wear him down because they are going to run, run and run more with the rookie Goff under center and a weak group of receivers.
The Rams finished 2-6 on the road last season, 2-5-1 against the spread and 1-7 "over/under." The Rams play three road games vs. 2015 playoff teams this year -- at least the travel inside the NFC West will be considerably shorter from Los Angeles than it was from St. Louis. I project a 2-6 road mark. The home schedule is perhaps slightly tougher outside the division. Los Angeles has a wins total of 7.5 for the coming season, with the under a -145 favorite. Odds listed below for the home team.
Sept. 12 at 49ers (+2, 46): This is the second game of the Week 1 Monday doubleheader. Unless Goff is better than I think he will be as an overmatched rookie, this might be the only game where L.A. has a quarterback advantage assuming that Blaine Gabbert is the 49ers' guy. The Rams' final game with St. Louis in their name was Week 17 last year in San Francisco, a 19-16 OT loss. The Rams were trying to win a fourth straight game in a season for the first time since 2003. Keenum threw for 231 yards. Gurley didn't play. There was no reason to risk injury. Key trend: Rams have covered two of their past seven as a road favorite in series.
Sept. 25 at Buccaneers (-1): Rams are off a Week 2 home game vs. Seattle but do catch a break here in that it's not a 1:05 ET start but 4:05. Tampa is in Arizona the previous Sunday. Should be a matchup of No. 1 overall picks in Goff vs. Jameis Winston. The Rams have won four straight in this series since Fisher arrived in 2012. Last year it was 31-23 in Week 15 on a Thursday, the final game in St. Louis. Keenum actually played well, going 14-for-17 for 234 yards and two scores. Gurley had a TD but was otherwise bottled up. Key trend: Rams 3-5 ATS in their past eight as a September road dog of 3 points or fewer.
Oct. 2 at Cardinals (-7): Arizona is off a trip to Buffalo in Week 3. The Rams pulled off a 24-22 surprise in the desert in Week 4 last year. That was essentially Gurley's first full game -- he was used sparingly the week before to wean him in -- and he had 146 yards rushing on only 19 carries. Foles played well that day, throwing for 171 yards, three TDs and no picks. St. Louis' defense held the Cardinals to field goals on four of five trips inside the red zone. Key trend: Rams have been a road dog of at least 7 points five times in series and are 1-4 ATS.
Oct. 16 at Lions (-1.5): L.A. is off a Week 5 home game vs. Buffalo. Detroit is home to Philadelphia the previous Sunday. The Rams ended a five-game losing streak in Week 14 last year with a 21-14 home win over the Lions. Keenum was awful, but Gurley rushed 16 times for 140 yards and two touchdowns. Aaron Donald had three sacks. Key trend: Rams 1-5 ATS in past six at NFC North teams.
Nov. 13 at Jets (-4): First chance of a winter weather-type game for the Rams. They come off a Week 9 home game vs. Carolina. New York is in Miami the previous Sunday and ahead of its bye week. Maybe the Rams have the QB edge here if the Jets actually are going with Geno Smith as their starter this season. Rams have dropped two straight in series, most recently in 2012. Key trend: Rams 5-5 ATS in past 10 at AFC East teams.
Nov. 27 at Saints (-1.5): L.A. hosts Miami the previous Sunday, and this is the team's final indoor game of the year. New Orleans will have extra time to prepare as it is in Carolina on Thursday in Week 11. The Rams have won two straight vs. New Orleans, most recently in 2013. Key trend: Rams 5-5 ATS in past 10 at NFC South foes.
Dec. 4 at Patriots (-9): This looks to be a huge trap game for the Patriots as they are off a Week 12 Sunday night game at the rival Jets and ahead of a Monday night game against another hated team, Baltimore. The Rams were embarrassed in the last meeting with New England, 45-7 in London in 2012. Key trend: Rams 6-4 ATS in their past 10 as a road dog anywhere of at least 9 points.
Dec. 15 at Seahawks (-12.5): Thursday night game. Rams off a Week 14 home game vs. Falcons. Could be a sandwich game for Seattle coming off a big one in Green Bay and ahead of a home showdown with Arizona. The Rams shocked the Seahawks 23-17 in Seattle in Week 16 last year. It was the franchise's first win there since the NFC wild-card playoffs on Jan. 8, 2005. Gurley rushed for 83 yards and a TD. The Rams forced three turnovers and had a defensive touchdown. Key trend: Rams 3-5 ATS all-time as a road dog of at least 7.5 points in series.
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