Thursday, September 15, 2011

JZN NFL Predictions vs. Spread: St. Louis Rams at New York Giants (Week 2, 2011-2012)

Steve Spagnuolo returns to the team where he won a Super Bowl as a defensive coordinator. Both teams are banged up heading into this contest. Which team will avoid going 0-2?

The early spread on this game is Giants (-6). Here are some of the key aspects of the game and what to watch out for when betting. All lines from Cooper's Pick and Injury Reports from as of September 15, 2011. Always keep yourself updated with injury lines because they’ll unexpectedly change throughout the week.

#0: Last Picks Involving Teams
St. Louis Rams (+4.5) over Philadelphia Eagles (0 of 2)
New York Giants (-3) over Washington Redskins (0 of 2)

#1: Injuries
The injuries are huge in this game. Hakeem Nicks, Sam Bradford, Steven Jackson, Osi Umenyiora, Justin Tuck and Terrell Thomas are just some of the biggest names who could be out. Check out the injury report before #0 throughout the week because it's important that you know who plays in this game. That's especially true for the Giants' injuries.

Bradford will almost certainly play. I'm thinking Tuck will too. Nicks is 50/50. Umenyiora probably won't. Thomas won't (he's on IR). Jackson's won't but they still have Cadillac Williams, who nearly had 100 yards against the Eagles.

#2: Rams' Rushing Defense
The Giants' offense is dependent on a strong running game under Tom Coughlin. That isn't necessarily a good thing for them. The Eagles had 236 rushing yards against the Rams. LeSean McCoy had 15 carries for 122 yards. 97 of those 236 yards were from Vick. Eli Manning doesn't have that mobility so don't expect as many rushing yards from Ahmad Bradshaw and/or Brandon Jacobs. 

#3 Rams' passing offense vs. Giants' passing defense
The Giants defensive backfield is depleted with injuries to their no. 1 cornerback and Prince A. The Rams passing offense is hurting as Sam Bradford is missing two of his top receivers. He's also got an injured nerve on his right forefinger. He should play but it'll be interesting to see if it affects his throws. 

#4: Giants' offensive line
The Giants offense line surrendered four sacks and seven QB hits against the Redskins. That pressure also resulted in Ryan Kerrigan's INT return that shifted the momentum in Washington's favor. There was also a blocked field goal when the Giants had an effort to recapture that momentum in the third quarter. 

The Rams have had one of the NFL's best pass rushes under Spagnuolo. They had 11 QB hits on Vick and three sacks. Vick was only 14/32 passing because of this pressure. Manning also doesn't have the mobility to get away from constant pressure. 

#5: NFC West on the Road in 2010
The NFC West combined to go 6-27 on the road last season. Three of those road victories came when the other NFC West teams played the Arizona Cardinals. One came when the Cardinals beat the St. Louis Rams in Sam Bradford's debut. The Rams were 2-6 in road games in 2010.

The Seattle Seahawks continued that trend when they lost to the San Francisco 49ers in Week 1.

Final Predictions:
If it weren't for the trend of ineptness from NFC West teams on the road, I'd go with the Rams. I have a lot of concerns with the Giants in this game. The funny thing is that the biggest concern may be where they're relatively healthy: offensive line. The Rams have a strong pass rush and if they can even force Manning into one mistake that equates to seven points, the Giants are in trouble. 

But this is the NFC West. Giants become first home team to win on Monday Night Football this season.

Against the Spread: St. Louis Rams (+6)
Straight: New York Giants 17, St. Louis Rams 13

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