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It’s a matchup of No. 1 overall picks on Sunday when Sam Bradford and the Rams, who tied for the worst record in the NFL last season, visit the Detroit Lions and Matthew Stafford, who became a rare member of the 5,000-yard passing club in leading Detroit to the playoffs a season ago.
The Rams appear to be overmatched in this contest with the Lions having a potentially explosive offense coming into the 2012 season. Detroit has an excellent defensive front but was inconsistent stopping the run (yielding 5 yards per carry, 128 per contest) in 2011. St. Louis has one of the most physical runners in the league in Steven Jackson. Look for offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer to take the approach of trying to find yards on the ground and limit the Detroit pass rush.
The Lions’ receivers matching up against a completely redone St. Louis secondary could be interesting. But the Rams simply don’t have enough star power to push this contest up the list. Not to mention the fact that if Detroit jumps out to a big lead, the Rams will have to climb a mountain to come back.
An under-the-radar storyline out of St. Louis is how different quarterback Sam Bradford looks these days. Gone are the lengthy, loopy seven-step drops. Instead, Bradford is unloading the ball quickly, threatening to return to the form he showed as a promising rookie. It’s just unclear if he has the supporting cast at receiver.
Jeff Fisher makes Rams coaching debut against one of his protégés, Detroit’s Jim Schwartz, a Titans assistant from 1999-2000 and Fisher’s defensive coordinator from 2001-08. Fisher trying to do what Schwartz seems to have done. Rams are 15-65 past five years, giving them lowest winning percentage (.188) over five-season span since 1970 merger.
RAMS NOTES: Head coach Jeff Fisher is 10-6 (.625) on KO Weekend…QB Bradford has posted 100+ rating 3 times in career & Rams are 3-0. Makes 3rd consecutive KO Weekend start … RB Steven Jackson rushed for 1,145 yards & is 1 of 7 players in NFL history with 7+ consecutive 1,000-yard seasons. Is franchise’s all-time leading rusher with 9,093 yards. Since 2006, averages 114.7 scrimmage yards per game (9,868 yards, 86 games), most in NFL (min. 60 games) … WR-KR Danny Amendola led NFL in 2010 with 2,364 all-purpose yards (1,142 KR, 689 rec., 452 PR, 81 rush). Has 2 2,000+ yard seasons & is 1 of 4 Rams to record 2,000+ all-purpose yards in year, joining Jackson & HOFers Eric Dickerson & Marshall Faulk … DE Chris Long led team with career-high 13 sacks. Has 10 sacks in past 10. Has sack in 7 of past 10. LB James Laurinaitis had club-best 142 tackles, his 3rd consecutive season leading Rams. CB Cortland Finnegan joins Rams after 6 seasons with Ten. (93 games, 79 starts)
LIONS NOTES: Have 49 wins in home openers, tied for 2nd most all-time. In 2011, won 3 games after trailing by 17+ points, most in season in NFL history. Scored 474 points, most in season in club history … QB Matthew Stafford set team passing records with 5,038 yards & 41 TDs, 1 of 3 seasons by QB in NFL history with 5,000+ yards & 40+ TDs. Is 2nd youngest QB in NFL history to pass for 4,000+ yards & 30+ TDs in season (HOFerDAN MARINO) …WR Calvin Johnson led NFL with 1,681 rec. yards, 2nd most in team history. Led NFC with 16 rec. TDs. 1st Lion since HOFer Barry Sanders (1991) to score 15+ TDs in season. Joined HOFers Lance Alworth & Jerry Rice as only players with 12+ rec. TDs in 3 of 1st 5 seasons. Since 2008, has 45 TD catches, most in NFL. TE Brandon Pettigrew had 83 catches, most by Lions TE … DE Cliff Avril led team with 11 sacks. 1 of 6 players in NFL history with 10+ sacks, FR-TD & INT-TD in season. Led NFC with 6 FFs. LB Stephen Tulloch led team with 111 tackles. Since 2010, DT Ndamukong Suh has 14 sacks, 3rd most by NFL DT… K Jason Hanson is 1st player in NFL history to score 2,000 points with 1 franchise (2,016 points).
WAGERWEB.COM TRENDS: Rams are 2-11 ATS in their last 13 vs. NFC. Rams are 1-9 ATS in their last 10 road games. Rams are 1-10-1 ATS in their last 12 games in Week 1. Lions are 1-5-1 ATS in their last 7 games overall. Lions are 0-5 ATS in their last 5 vs. NFC.