Free NFL Picks: St. Louis at Tampa Bay 10-24-2010

October 21, 2010

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St. Louis Rams at Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Sunday October 24th, 2010

Line: Tampa Bay -3

Overview:

Who would have thought at the beginning of the year that we would be looking at two three win teams in this match up? As it stands, the Bucs have a winning record at 3-2 and the Rams have been led by quarterback Sam Bradford to a 3-3 start. Here we have two teams that have clearly overachieved. One of them is going to have a winning record going into week eight. The Rams are in a position to make a real play at the number one spot in their division should they come away with a victory in Tampa Bay.

Keys to the Game:

  • Tampa Bay allows 157.8 yards on the ground a game. This is great news if you are Steven Jackson. The Buccaneers will face a top five running back this week. Jackson ran for over 100 yards and scored a touchdown last week. The Chargers only allow 91.5 yards a game on the ground. If Jackson can put up that kind of performance against a team like the Chargers, he is going explode against a team like the Buccaneers. Gerald McCoy added some much needed bulk to their defensive line, but teams are not having problems out muscling the Bucs up front.
  • Josh Freeman is putting the Buccaneers in a position to win. He is limiting his turnovers this season and using his legs to give him the ability to make plays. Freeman is not surrounded by talent. Although rookie wide receiver Mike Williams has been overly impressive this season, Freeman doesn’t have a go to guy. Kellen Winslow is not playing up to his potential, so Freeman is having to seek out other options. What makes Freeman even more impressive is that he does not have a solid running game. Tampa Bay ranks 27th in the league this year in rushing. That means teams aren’t loading up the box, yet the second year quarterback is still able to get it done through the air. It is imperative that the Rams keep Freeman trapped in the pocket. Pressure is good, but Freeman has the ability to break and throw the ball when he needs to.
  • Mark Clayton who? Sam Bradford’s favorite target went down with a season ending injury. Many, including myself thought that the Rams would see a major setback in productivity, but Danny Amendola, Billy Bajema, and Danario Alexander filled the void. These are not household names. Bradford is bringing out the best in all of his receivers. He doesn’t have a superstar to go to, but with teams loading up against Jackson, he is able to put the ball in the air. The Rams are going with the ‘receiver by committee’ approach and it worked last week. The don’t have a go to guy, but the rookie field general seems poised and comfortable throwing to targets who are being pulled off the practice squad. The Rams could have used Mark Clayton, but they are doing just fine without him.
  • Tampa Bay has four sacks on the entire year. Their inability to get after the quarterback is mind boggling. You would think every once in a while they would be able to get a coverage sack or the blitz would be effective, but they have been held in check all year long. Tampa Bay ranks dead last in their sack total. There is a 20 sack discrepancy between them and the league leading Tennessee Titans. This has affects the entire defense, as quarterbacks are able to sit back and make plays like they are running a 7 on 7 drill. Sam Bradford is going to recognize the lack of a pass rush on film. The Bucs need to start throwing some blitz packages and confusion at opposing quarterbacks. Asking their defensive backs to be effective without any sort of pass rush is asking too much.

Wrap Up:

This match up is fairly even. I would usually give this one to the home team, but I feel as though the Buccaneers have overachieved more so than the Rams. They are a difficult team to read, but they haven’t beaten anyone worth noting. I stated before that I think the Bengals are the most over rated team in the NFL. That isn’t a key victory to me. Tack on the Browns and the winless Panthers and all of the sudden the Bucs are 3-2. The Rams won’t count as a key victory either, but they haven’t beaten a middle of the road opponent yet, which I think the Rams are. The Rams had a huge loss against the Lions, but came back to beat the Chargers the following week. They haven’t won on the road yet, but this will only be their third game away from home. The Rams win this one outright.

Free NFL Pick: St. Louis +3


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