Editor’s Note: Our resident degenerate gambler (and staff contributor) Brett Stevens will break down each Eagles game this season to help give you a betting edge (you know, if you do that sort of thing).
Week 1 – Philadelphia Eagles at St. Louis Rams (Sunday, September 11th, 2011)
Hello, football! I don’t know about you, but for a lot of my degenerate friends and me, it’s been an excruciatingly long seven months since we’ve been able to call our favorite bookie or betting service and place a little action on the NFL. Consider this weekend your renaissance; football is back and we’re finally able to lose money at an alarming rate once again.
This Sunday, the Eagles will open the season by visiting the St. Louis Rams in the Edward Jones Dome. Much has been made over the last week about the Eagles offensive line and the potential struggles that they will face with the crowd noise. Since the starting O-Line hasn’t played together much (see: at all) during the pre-season, it’s a valid concern. Throw in the fact that you’ve got a $100 million quarterback taking the snaps against an aggressive Steve Spagnuolo defense, and there’s certainly some cause for concern.
The good news is the St. Louis offense does not pose too much of a threat, especially since the Eagles have heavily invested in their defense during the offseason. The wide array of star cornerbacks on the Eagles side should be able to keep the Rams’ receivers in check, leaving the only real problems on the shoulders of the D-Line’s/Linebackers and their run-stopping ability. I think you’re going to see a lot of Steven Jackson early in the game, which should chew up some clock and help to get Sam Bradford settled in against a fast and intimidating defense.
The Eagles offense has certainly been a strength of the team over the last couple of seasons, and the emergence of Michael Vick last year made them even more dangerous. There’s a plethora of weapons on the offensive side of the ball, but the Rams do have some things they can do to slow down the attack. I think you’ll see a lot of pressure on Michael Vick early in the game, forcing Brent Celek and Shady McCoy to stay back and help on the blocking front. Even in the face of pressure, the Eagles still have big-play ability and it only takes one missed tackle to turn a 10-yard pass to Desean Jackson into a 60-yard touchdown. If the Eagles face some early blitzing from the Rams, I think you’re going to see a fair share of rushing attempts by LeSean McCoy and Ronnie Brown. Check-down passes have been the Eagles’ best friend in recent years, so you may see a lot of that as well. These things eat up the clock and help to manage the time-of-possession battle.
These teams haven’t played each other since 2008 and much has changed since then, so expect both teams to feel each other out early in the game. I don’t expect to see many homerun swings early on, so there could be a low-scoring first-quarter that sets the tempo for the game. For the opener the 2011 season, my pick is the UNDER for the Game Total of 44 points.
Record Thus Far in 2011: 0-0