Friday, August 10, 2012

St Louis Rams vs Indianapolis Colts: STL +1.5 (5Dimes)

Coaches

There aren't a lot of records to speak of here.  Fisher had a winning preseason record during his time in Tennessee, but he's a bit of a wild card when it comes to game-planning in the exhibition.  He brings Brian Schottenheimer in to run the offense.  Chuck Pagano heads up the Colts and has no head coaching records to speak of.  He has Bruce Arians in charge of Andrew Luck and company, while Greg Manusky leads the defense.

Markets

The line opened at Indy -2.5 and we've seen some movement towards St Louis. The line currently sits at Indy -1.5 and 57% of the bets on the Rams.  I won't be shocked if there's even more movement towards the dog.

Quarterbacks

Most eyes are going to be on 1st overall pick Andrew Luck in this matchup.  Arians has said Luck will get between 20-25 plays, but that's not set in stone.  If Robert Griffin III's performance is any indication, we should be in store for another impressive debut for the Colts rookie.  That might be easier said than done.  60% of the 90 man roster is new and there isn't a whole lot of quality depth.  The O-line is a work in progress, the running game has question marks, and Avery won't be available at WR.

After Luck we have Drew Stanton.  Those within the team have nothing but good things to say about his veteran presence, but observers at camp haven't been as generous with their reviews.  However, the real problem comes in the third string spot.  Chandler Harnish is the "Mr Irrelevant" 7th round choice who has the responsibility of mopping up this game.  Good luck shedding that label!

For St Louis we have another 1st overall pick in Sam Bradford.  He has said that his ankle still isn't 100% from last season, but there hasn't been any signs of problems in training camp.  The talent on this kid is off the charts - it's just a matter of surrounding him with options and protecting him better.  The good news is he has a lot more options this year than he did last year.  Amendola returns from injury, Brandon Gibson has impressed in camp, Brian Quick and Chris Givens were acquired in the draft, and Steve Smith was signed in free agency.  That group might be devoid of a "#1", but when you throw in Lance Kendricks it's a group with room to grow.

In the backup roles there is Kellen Clemens, Austin Davis, and Tom Brandstater. Clemens has first-hand knowledge of Schottenheimer's offense and should be serviceable. Davis and Brandstater aren't household names, but they can't be any worse than "Mr. Irrelevant" in the 2nd half.

Roster

I realize the Rams finished near the bottom of the league last year, but make no mistake about it - this team has some nice pieces to build on. Finnegan and Jenkins are big additions in the secondary and the likes of Quinn, Laurenitis, and Long are difference-makers in the front seven.  Rookies Isaiah Pead and Daryl Richardson will see a lot of action at running back and the Rams are liking what they've done in camp so far.  Also, as mentioned there are more than enough receivers to give all three QB's some capable options.

On the flip side, I can't be as optimistic for the Colts. Much like the Browns, they barely have enough to fill out a competitive starting roster, let alone any quality depth in the backup roles.  I'm not even going to try and pretend like I know half of these guys either.  From what I've read, there is so much turnover and chance that no one really knows what they have yet.  What I do know is that they are headed for some serious growing pains.

Pick

I don't understand how bookmakers set this line.  I understand home teams get the obligatory 2.5 points, but the Rams have one of the most respected and experienced head coaches in the NFL, a better QB rotation, and better overall quality throughout the lineup.  There's been no news out of either camp to indicate a lean towards the Colts unless you think Luck is going to own the day with multiple TD drives to open the game.  If you look at some of the talent he'll be facing and what he has to work with, I'd say that's unlikely.

NFL Pick: STL +1.5.