Monday, August 27, 2012

Baltimore Ravens vs St Louis Rams: STL -2.5 (5Dimes)

Coaches

John Harbaugh is a nondescript 2-2 in the final week of his preseason career.  Going back, he has not played his starters much at all and uses it primarily to evaluate his backups and roster depth - like most coaches.

On the other hand, Jeff Fisher openly told us last week that he is not treating Week 4 like a traditional preseason week. His starters will go into the second half because he wants to use this game as their official "dress rehearsal".

Markets

The game opened at pick em to today and money has been coming in on the Rams ever since. The line is now at -2.5 and it won't be long until it hits the 3. Does it cross the 3?  It's possible given the game plan, but I would take St Louis at -3 or below.

Quarterbacks

As someone who has been extremely optimistic about the Rams this year, they did not put up the kind of performance I had hoped for when they took on the Cowboys last week. Sam Bradford was a woeful 6 for 17 and a measly 64 yards. That's not what you want to see from your franchise QB looking to put past failures behind him.

Kellen Clemens has been pretty solid this preseason putting up a combined 18-25 for 136 yards, one touchdown and no interceptions.

For the Ravens, expect to see either Curtis Painter and/or Tyrod Taylor.  They are both very inconsistent and contrasting quarterbacks.  Painter has been described as downright "awful" in training camp and practices, but then the bright lights turn on and he transforms into Dan Marino.  In Week 1 he through three touchdowns and no interceptions. After Week 2 his completion percentage was 50% as he went 10 of 20 and 17 of 34 overall.  Then last week he led a quick drive for a touchdown completing all three passes.

Tyrod Taylor is just as inconsistent in the air. Through three games he is 23 of 48 for a woeful 32% completion percentage. Instead, Taylor does most of his damage on the ground where he has racked up 135 yards on 16 runs - which is more a product of his inability to develop as a reliable pocket passer. 

Loose Ends

Normally we need to take a grain of salt when it comes to what Fisher feeds us through the media. He has a history of outlining one plan and going with another on gameday.  The same could happen again this week, but so far the games have played out as he intended this preseason. 

Another benefit for the Rams is they have a lot of camp battles and young players at the offensive skill positions. Isaiah Peed and Daryl Richardson should get a lot of work at running back as they try to carve out a role for the regular season. The saga at the wide receiver position continues as well.

Janoris Jenkins is pencilled in to start opposite Cortland Finnegan and didn't look good against the Cowboys. In fact, tackling was pretty atrocious across the board for the Rams defense. A better effort should be forthcoming.

Pick

I think it's a good idea that Fisher wants to give his starters extensive action heading into the season. There's always the risk of injury, but he is trying to build a program from the ground up.  If they can't build a sufficient lead against backups then it could be another gut-wrenching season for the Rams.  I like them to get some confidence going at home and a win to close out the preseason.

NFL Pick: STL -2.5.

The rest of my Week 4 predictions are here, or you can find all my 2012 predictions on the home page main menu.