Rams Vs. Lions: St. Louis Falls On TD In Final Seconds

St. Louis Rams vs. Detroit Lions: Matthew Stafford's late game heroics lifts Lions over Rams.

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NFL Odds Week 2: Redskins Vs. Rams

The St. Louis Rams are three-point underdogs to Robert Griffin III and the Washington Redskins in their Week 2 matchup, according to OddsShark.com. The line opened up at -3, and has held steady throughout the week, as of Wednesday evening.

If Griffin is able to have an encore performance that is anywhere near what he accomplished in Week 1 against the New Orleans, it's easy to see the Redskins covering, and then some. However, oddsmakers seem to be encouraged by the Rams' close road loss to the Detroit Lions last Sunday, judging by the relatively insignificant spread.

The over/under opened at 45 and, like the spread, has also stayed in place as the week has progressed.

For more on the Rams, be sure to visit Turf Show Times. Additional coverage on the Redskins can be found at Hogs Heaven, while SB Nation's NFL hub is the place to go for all things pro football.


St. Louis Rams Real Talk: Week 1

Same old St. Louis Rams? The beginning of a bright future with Coach Fisher? Urkel is trolling Rams fans? We all got a bit more than expected Week 1 of the Rams' 2012 season.


Steven Jackson Mediocre In First Test Since Fantasy Football Questions Began

The St. Louis Rams were unlikely to take out the Detroit Lions for a lot of reasons, but a sour performance from Steven Jackson—he ran the ball 21 times for just 53 yards—was perhaps the biggest hindrance to their competing with the Lions' vaunted offense. It was also an unpleasant thing for his fantasy football owners, who got a full slate of touches from Jackson only to see him miss 100 all-purpose yards.

Isaiah Pead's complete invisibility on offense is probably some comfort to Jackson owners, but it doesn't much help Rams fans, who saw Sam Bradford erupt in the fourth quarter only to be undermined, weirdly enough, by a running game most of us were pretty confident in.

It's much too early to count Steven Jackson out, but he didn't get it done in Week 1—which means the Rams and his fantasy owners are likely to get considerably more nervous from this moment forward. But the offense is synergistic in some ways; if teams start having to gameplan for Sam Bradford, things might get easier for Jackson than they have in years.


Sam Bradford Shows Star Form In 4th Quarter Of St. Louis Rams' 27-23 Loss

The St. Louis Rams saw their worst nightmares manifest in the first three quarters of their 27-23 loss to the Detroit Lions. The defense was every bit as good as Jeff Fisher could have hoped—Matthew Stafford was intercepted three times—and Sam Bradford's struggles still kept them from taking a commanding lead. In his defense, Steven Jackson was even more ineffective—21 carries for 53 yards—but Bradford looked tentative and underthrew a crucial deep pass to Chris Givens.

The fourth quarter still got away from them, but Bradford just missed beating the Lions; he finished the game 6-for-8 for 84 yards and a touchdown, the kind of performance the Rams expected from him when he came out of Oklahoma one of the most highly touted college quarterbacks in years.

They haven't seen that Sam Bradford much—especially not behind an offensive line as banged up as the one he worked behind in that fourth quarter. But they'll need him if Jeff Fisher wants to finish this turnaround any time soon, at least without bringing another highly touted college quarterback into the mix.


Matthew Stafford Can Only Be Stopped So Many Times, Apparently

The St. Louis Rams did their best covering Matthew Stafford and the Detroit Lions' offense on Sunday, intercepting him three times and holding him to an inefficient 200-yards-or-so in the first three quarters, but their new secondary and young defensive line could only hold a great offense down for so long: In the fourth quarter the Detroit Lions finally flashed their 2011 form, and Stafford finished 32-for-48 with 355 yards, three interceptions, and one crucial touchdown.

Despite the gaudy numbers and the final loss, this game has to be considered a minor success for the Rams' defense, which went into the 2012 season a vaguely exciting question mark. They won the turnover competition, they held Calvin Johnson in check for most of the afternoon, and they gave the Rams' offense a chance to win it that they just couldn't quite pull off.

Which is cold comfort, probably, to a fanbase that's tired of moral victories. But Matthew Stafford threw for 5000 yards last year—and did not average three touchdowns a week. Ultimately it can't get any worse than a loss—but this loss could have been significantly worse than it was.


Rams Vs. Lions Score: Kevin Smith Runs Over St. Louis Defense, Ties Score At 20-20

The St. Louis Rams' pass defense has shown some major improvement so far, intercepting Matthew Stafford three times, but the run defense—well, that's another story. Despite the Detroit Lions being down to Kevin Smith, their third-string running back, they've gotten both offensive touchdowns on the ground, responding to Sam Bradford's first touchdown of the year with three quick passes to Brandon Pettigrew and then a Kevin Smith touchdown.

Smith has 13 carries for 62 yards and a touchdown on the afternoon, exceeding the limited expectations of everybody who's watched the Detroit Lions but who has not watched the St. Louis Rams' run defense. In a pass and passing-turnover-heavy game, that makes him the afternoon's leading rusher; Steven Jackson has struggled, taking the ball 21 times for just 53 yards.

It's not the way Lions fans expected the Detroit offense to succeed, but Rams fans are probably less surprised than you'd expect; they watched running backs big and small break off big plays all last season, and with Michael Brockers injured the defensive line isn't yet at full strength.

For more in-game score, fantasy, and injury updates, stay tuned to SB Nation St. Louis's Rams vs. Lions storystream.


Rodger Saffold Injury: St. Louis Rams OT Removed From Field After Apparent Neck Injury

The St. Louis Rams scored their first offensive touchdown of the afternoon on a beautiful fourth-quarter pass from Sam Bradford to Brandon Gibson, but that could be less important than what happened at the same time—the Rams appeared to lose OT Rodger Saffold to a neck injury on this bizarre play:

Nobody's sure yet as to quite what happened, but Saffold did not leave the field under his own power—he was put on a cart and taken off, delaying the point-after. We'll be sure to update this story as we know more, but right now it seems like the Rams have lost their second offensive lineman of the day, after free-agent center Scott Wells left early with a foot injury.

It is, of course, always worth noting at this point that football teams are less likely than ever to take head and neck injuries lightly—as worrying as the immediate aftermath of this play looked, it could just be that the Rams are being cautious with Saffold, as they would with any player who suffered something like this.

Update: Early reports suggest Saffold suffered a neck injury, but has feeling in his extremities. So far it seems like good news out of the Rams locker room.


Rams Vs. Lions Score: Sam Bradford Leads Fourth Quarter Touchdown Drive, St. Louis Up 20-13

After struggling all afternoon Sam Bradford came through in a big way in the fourth quarter of the St. Louis Rams' matchup with the Detroit Lions, finding Brandon Gibson in the end zone for a 23-yard touchdown pass to break the tie score and put the Rams up 20-13 with less than 10 minutes left at Ford Field. It was the best the offense has looked all afternoon, and Bradford was at the center of it, finding Steve Smith for 16 yards before hitting Rams veteran Gibson, who spent the preseason on the roster bubble, for his first touchdown pass of the season.

Bradford still has a way to go to quiet the doubters; overall he's just 12-for-18 with 134 yards passing and the touchdown, and the Rams' lead is dependent mostly on three interceptions their new-look defense has taken from an inefficient Matthew Stafford.

But he's put the Rams in position to win a game that would be a major upset, and Tim Tebow will be the first to tell you that's enough to sway a lot of casual fans semi-permanently in your favor.


Scott Wells Injury Update: Rams Center Injures Foot, Return Questionable

St. Louis Rams center Scott Wells sustained a foot injury on Sunday against the Lions and the team is calling his return questionable. Robert Turner moved over from guard to replace Wells at center, and rookie Rokevious Watkins came on to replace Turner.

Wells was the big offseason acquisition for the Rams, signing a four-year, $24 million deal. He was expected to anchor the center of the offensive line but he was injured throughout the Rams' offseason program and training camp. The foot injury now appears to be a separate issue. His absence will add increased pressure on the Rams offensive front, which is dealing with the Lions touted interior led by Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley.

The defense has kept the Rams in the game so far with three huge first-half interceptions but the Lions evened things up in a relatively uneventful third quarter. A Scott Hanson field goal knotted things at 13-13.

For more updates on Sunday's Rams vs. Lions game, and up-to-the-minute score, fantasy, and injury updates, stay tuned to SB Nation St. Louis's Rams-Lions storystream.


Rams Vs. Lions Update: Sam Bradford Struggling In Limited Action

One slightly underthrown deep ball to Chris Givens is probably all that stands between Sam Bradford and the idea, among St. Louis Rams fans, that he's had a pretty good game so far in their 13-13 third-quarter stalemate against the Detroit Lions. If that seems like an overreaction, it's probably important to know that—between Jeff Fisher's conservative offense and the exploits of the Rams' secondary, which has intercepted Matthew Stafford three times—Bradford has made just 12 pass attempts so far, completing eight of them for 80 yards.

What's worse is how he's looked—the Rams' offensive line, forced to scramble for bodies again when Scott Wells suffered a foot injury, hasn't been able to keep the pressure away from him, and he's floated some balls in the mid-range and downfield that have looked positively Tebovian.

Increasingly Rams fans seem worried not about Bradford's ability to be competent but about his ability to rise above the dreaded game-manager label and be a difference-maker. So far in Week 1 he hasn't done that—but in his defense, he's hardly gotten the chance.

For more in-game score, fantasy, and injury updates, stay tuned to SB Nation St. Louis's Rams vs. Lions storystream.


Steven Jackson Struggles In St. Louis Rams' First Half—But He's Getting Touches

If you were worried about Steven Jackson's 2012 fantasy football prospects because he was going to be slowly replaced by Isaiah Pead or otherwise downplayed in the offense, fear not: He's getting touches. Through the first half of the St. Louis Rams' wild game vs. the Detroit Lions he's got eight carries and three receptions, which means he leads the Rams in both categories. (Of the rookies, Daryl Richardson has just one carry and Pead has zero.)

If you were worried about his ineffectiveness—well, the first half hasn't been his best work. The Lions have stuffed Jackson up the middle over and over, and he ended the quarter with just 20 yards on those eight carries. On the other hand, his three receptions—and it should be noted that Sam Bradford has thrown just nine times, thus far—account for 26 yards more.

So it's still early, but at least one question appears to have been answered: Steven Jackson is still the focal point of the Rams' offense. Now you should probably wait for more than one half of 2012 football before you make a judgement as to what he'll do with all those touches.


St. Louis Rams Intercept Matthew Stafford Again; Cortland Finnegan Goes Pick-6

The St. Louis Rams' offense has barely been on the field, but it hasn't much mattered—they've got a 13-7 lead against the typically white-hot Detroit Lions after intercepting Matthew Stafford for a third time in the first half. After interceptions by Janoris Jenkins and linebacker Jo-Lonn Dunbar, Cortland Finnegan finally got in on the action, taking a Stafford pass 31 yards into the end zone for a Pick-6 on the first touchdown of his Rams career.

The Rams have bent but then broken Stafford all game, allowing some of the Lions' big plays but erupting with a big one of their own. Stafford, now, is 17-for-22 with 172 yards and three interceptions—for better or worse, he's keeping the football off the ground. Meanwhile, the Rams' offense has barely had time to do anything. Sam Bradford has nine pass attempts so far, and Steven Jackson eight carries; they've gotten into Greg Zuerlein's impossibly wide field goal range and just let him deal with it, for the most part.

This isn't the kind of thing anybody could have reasonably expected from the Rams' new defensive backs, at least this early, but so far it looks pretty good. For more updates stay tuned to SB Nation St. Louis's Rams vs. Lions storystream.


Matthew Stafford Intercepted Twice By St. Louis Rams In First Half, Infuriating Fantasy Owners

If you—you being a fantasy football owner in particular—thought Matthew Stafford would have an easy assignment against the St. Louis Rams' new defense under Jeff Fisher, you... well, you were almost right. Stafford's moved the ball downfield at will against the Rams, but the Lions' lone touchdown came on a hand-off and midway through the second quarter he threw his second interception of the afternoon, throwing a bullet right to Rams linebacker Jo-Lonn Dunbar. That was a quarter after Janoris Jenkins interrupted your regularly scheduled Matthew Stafford-Calvin Johnson connection to take a would-be touchdown to midfield.

The Rams' defense has had its usual trouble with the run, but it's looking incredibly pesky against Matthew Stafford and one of football's best offenses in the first half of the 2012 regular season. That's something Rams fans could have only hoped for a few months ago.

When the offense has taken the field, too, it's looked every bit as competent as Jeff Fisher's hire promised. Sam Bradford's usual array of short passes has worked to perfection, and after a slow start the running game seems to have finally picked things up.

For more in-game score, fantasy, and injury updates, stay tuned to SB Nation St. Louis's Rams vs. Lions storystream.


Greg Zuerlein Scores St. Louis Rams' First Points Vs. Detroit Lions With 48-Yard Field Goal

Greg Zuerlein picked up the first field goal of his NFL career Sunday afternoon, and it was a boomer—a 48-yard field goal to put the St. Louis Rams up by a score of 3-0 vs. the Detroit Lions. Janoris Jenkins's end-zone interception of Matthew Stafford put the Rams' offense in business, and Greg The Leg, after an unforgivably dumb Brandon Gibson unnecessary roughness penalty almost put the Rams even out of Zuerlein range, showed off the form that made him the toast of the Rams' preseason and a rare drafted kicker.

Altogether the Rams find themselves with an unlikely lead vs. the high-flying Detroit Tigers. Stafford and the Lions' offense looked every bit as good as advertised on Sunday, but when he tried to find Calvin Johnson in double coverage the Rams' rookie cornerback picked off his first career pass and took it out nearly to midfield, which allowed a reasonably solid-looking Rams offense the first chance to put points on the board. Early Sam Bradford verdict: Pretty okay!

For more in-game score, fantasy, and injury updates, stay tuned to SB Nation St. Louis's Rams vs. Lions storystream.


Rams Vs. Lions: St. Louis Rams Clear Underdogs In Week 1 Matchup

I don't think any St. Louis Rams fans will be surprised by this turn of events, but for future generations' reference: The Rams are heavy underdogs going into their Week 1 matchup with the Detroit Lions, listed as nine-point underdogs as their young defense sets up to take on an offense that scored almost 500 points thanks to a breakout season from Matthew Stafford and a guy by the name of Calvin Johnson.

The Lions don't have much in the way of a running game this week--Kevin Smith is the starter, with the Lions' top two options on the PUP list and suspended, respectively--but they don't have much of a running game any week, and the burden of proof sits heavily on the Rams' new, highly touted secondary to show they can stop anybody, let alone an offense that topped 5000 passing yards in 2011.

The same doubt is in place until further notice for Sam Bradford and the offense. The Lions allowed nearly 400 points in 2012, and the pace they play at means the Rams will have multiple chances to put their conservative new offense into play. But until they show they can do it, they'll keep finding themselves on this side of the NFL odds.


St. Louis Rams' Plans For Isaiah Pead Still Mysterious As Week 1 Dawns

The St. Louis Rams will play the Detroit Lions later Sunday, but even after three preseason games and months of talk about running-backs-of-the-future it's hard to know just what their role for Isaiah Pead will look like in Week 1 of the 2012 season. Pead, the Rams' second-round pick and ostensible foil to Steven Jackson, only saw consistent success as a return man in the preseason, struggling mightily in his first offensive carries before breaking through in the preseason's final game.

With all that in mind, he did manage to stay ahead of seventh-round preseason-hero Daryl Richardson on the depth chart, and as the backup running back he'll be doing something on offense while the Rams try to keep Steven Jackson's carries down. The question has morphed, to his benefit, from, "Will he do something?" to "What will he be doing?"

But we still don't know what he will be doing. Provided the Rams' offense remains close enough to the Detroit Lions' on Sunday to keep the rushing game on the table, we'll get to see what a talented rookie with two functioning legs will be able to do in the Cadillac Williams role.

For more updates on Sunday's Rams vs. Lions game, and up-to-the-minute score, fantasy, and injury updates, stay tuned to SB Nation St. Louis's Rams-Lions storystream.


Rams Vs. Lions: Sam Bradford Has Matthew Stafford-Style Breakout To Hope For In 2012

The St. Louis Rams and the Detroit Lions are connected in multiple ways going into their Week 1 matchup Sunday afternoon, and most of them are related directly to how terrible they were in the second half of the aughts. In 2009 the Lions would have selected Sam Bradford, but he stayed in school; they took Matthew Stafford instead In 2010 they took Ndamukong Suh, the draft's defensive superstar, right behind the Rams' pick of Bradford.

In 2011, things diverged--Matthew Stafford, who spent his first few years dodging injuries and ineffectiveness, erupted into a 5000-yard season, and the Lions scored 474 points after scoring fewer than 300 in his first. Bradford, meanwhile, who'd had a superficially impressive rookie season, got hurt and revealed that hot start to be more about racking up counting statistics than playing an efficient quarterback.

In year three, then, Bradford finds himself about where Stafford did a year ago; he's still the team's quarterback-of-the-present, but it's hard to get too excited by the prospect. With his status as the face of the franchise in doubt, he won't have to quite reach Stafford-ian heights in 2012, but he will have to have the same kind of undeniably solid return to favor. And he and the St. Louis Rams will start this pivotal season off, of course, against Matthew Stafford and the Detroit Lions.

For more updates on Sunday's Rams vs. Lions game, and up-to-the-minute score, fantasy, and injury updates, stay tuned to SB Nation St. Louis's Rams-Lions storystream.


Jahvid Best Injured, St. Louis Rams' Run Defense Has Lighter Load Sunday Vs. Lions

With Jahvid Best on the physically unable to perform list--it's not an injury so much as the lingering effects of post-concussion syndromes--and Mikel Leshoure suspended for two games to start the 2012 season, the Detroit Lions will have to rely on Kevin Smith as their starting running back in Week 2 vs. the St. Louis Rams. That's good news for the Rams, who for all their trouble with injured defensive backs really distinguished themselves, in 2011's lost season, by having one of football's worst run defenses. (Things are compounded to start the 2012 season by an injury to rookie DT Michael Brockers.)

Of course, the Detroit Lions aren't exactly well-known for their exploits out of the backfield; under former Rams coach Scott Linehan they ran the ball just 356 times in 2011. But if the Rams' defense seemed to struggle last year in a very particular way, allowing one big, back-breaking rush after holding the other guys' offense to a hard-fought draw through three downs. If they can avoid that, at least, against Kevin Smith and the Lions' diminished run attack, they'll have a sliver of a chance against Matthew Stafford, Calvin Johnson and company.

For more updates on Sunday's Rams vs. Lions game, and up-to-the-minute score, fantasy, and injury updates, stay tuned to SB Nation St. Louis's Rams-Lions storystream.


St. Louis Rams' Brian Quick Could Be Inactive Vs. Detroit Lions

Here's a rumor that will give you unpleasant Mardy Gilyard flashbacks: Brian Quick, the St. Louis Rams' top second-rounder in the 2012 NFL Draft and their ostensible No. 1 wide receiver of the future, could be inactive for Sunday afternoon's game vs. the Detroit Lions. Turf Show Times summarized the situation well on Saturday; the big Appalachian State alum apparently hasn't yet grokked Brian Schottenheimer's simplified playbook, and even with Greg Salas gone in trade and Austin Pettis suspended he's fallen behind the veteran options in the Rams' receiving corps.

Of course, being declared inactive would also mean he's fallen behind Chris Givens, the Rams' other 2012 NFL Draft get at receiver. Givens, an injury-prone speedster, has looked solid in preseason play and--perhaps most importantly--has one solid tool that can be exploited even before he's fully integrated into the offense.

Being inactive in Week 1 wouldn't quite rank as a calamity for Quick, but it's certainly a disappointment; he was always considered a bit of a project, but Rams fans--and presumably coaches--have been hoping since April that he would do some of that growing and learning on the regular-season playing field.

For more updates on Sunday's Rams vs. Lions game, and up-to-the-minute score, fantasy, and injury updates, stay tuned to SB Nation St. Louis's Rams-Lions storystream.


Michael Brockers Injury Good News For Kevin Smith Vs. Rams

When the Detroit Lions welcome them to Ford Field on Sunday the St. Louis Rams could be reliving some unpleasant memories from just a few months ago—the same memories that caused them, in the first place, to draft big, run-stuffing Michael Brockers. Injury—a high ankle sprain—means he'll be out at least a month, which leaves the Rams exactly where they were last season. And last season, Lions starter Kevin Smith will be happy to know, the Rams allowed 2433 rushing yards and 17 touchdowns.

In the run defense's, uh, defense, most teams were so far ahead of them so fast that they spent most of the game running out the clock. But there's not much that excuses that 4.8 yards-per-carry against.

With Brockers gone, the Rams' ability to stop Kevin Smith will be dependent almost entirely on the new system implemented by Jeff Fisher and the cabal of underlings that's replaced Gregg Williams as ersatz defensive coordinator. Which is maybe more pure, if much less exciting. Of course, the Rams aren't the only ones missing important personnel. The Lions are down two running backs, with Jahvid Best on the physically unable to perform list and Mikel Leshoure suspended for the season's first two weeks. So Kevin Smith vs. a defensive line down its highly-touted rookie it is.


Calvin Johnson Fantasy Football Update: Week 1 With Rams An Unsurprising Play

Fantasy football teams, like the Detroit Lions, won't be sitting Calvin Johnson under any circumstances on Sunday, no matter who was lining up across from him. (Except for Calvin Johnson, maybe?) The St. Louis Rams' new secondary—Cortland Finnegan and Janoris Jenkins—isn't going to scare them off. But if you're within five points either way of the team you're about to play on Sunday and Johnson is your marquee name, it's worth keeping some things in mind:

1. The Rams' secondary is better than it was last year. At least, it'd better be. Last year the Rams' cornerbacks weren't very good and were even less healthy. This year the Rams' secondary is headed by a free agent cornerback with a five-year contract and a rookie who's this year's official Second Round Pick With Top Five Talent and who has, so far, stayed out of trouble.

2. The Lions might get out to an early lead. The good news is that Calvin Johnson would be a part of that early lead. The bad news is that that might end with the ball repeatedly ending up in Kevin Smith's hands, which is fine with me but maybe you didn't think Jersey Girl was as cromulent as I did.

3. So Calvin Johnson might have a good Calvin Johnson game, which is to say a great anybody-else game, but he is less likely than he might have been last season to single-handedly carry your team to victory.


Jeff Fisher, Sam Bradford Embrace Challenge Of Leading NFL's Youngest Team

The St. Louis Rams have a new head coach, a new general manager and 17 rookies on their 53-man roster. Still, quarterback Sam Bradford is optimistic despite all the challenges facing a club that's up to its eyebrows in rebuilding.

Turf Show Times has a story about how Bradford and new head coach Jeff Fisher are embracing it all. On Fisher's end, he knows he's working with a lot of youth, but doesn't plan to change how he runs a game as a result.

From Turf Show Times:

"Nothing changes," Fisher said of managing his green roster. "You take the same approach, preparation-wise. You just have to maybe spend a little extra time with some of the younger guys to let them know what the regular season is all about. 17 rookies on this roster and that doesn't include practice squad. There's a good chance that quite a few of them are going to be in this ballgame."

The story at Turf Show Times isn't wrong when it calls Bradford a relative old man. On a roster with 17 rookies, Bradford's now entering his third year in the league.

Still, he's surrounded by talent that is green but promising. Bradford said rookie wide receivers Chris Givens and Brian Quick have been rotating in and out with the first stringers over the past few weeks, and the chemistry between the passer and receivers has developed quickly.

The Rams kick off the 2012 season against the Detroit Lions on Sunday at 12 p.m. CT on Fox.

For all the latest Rams news, go to Turf Show Times. Follow the rest of the NFL action at SB Nation's NFL hub.

Already drafted your fantasy team and looking for a new challenge? Try our Pick 6 challenge!


Michael Brockers Injury: Ramon Harewood Fined By NFL

The NFL fined Baltimore Ravens offensive tackle Ramon Harewood $8,000 on Thursday for an illegal block on St. Louis Rams rookie defensive tackle Michael Brockers that caused Brockers to suffer a right high ankle sprain.

Harewood is appealing the fine, according to the Baltimore Sun. He was not penalized on the play, but the league office reviewed the penalty after the Aug. 31, 2012, game.

From the Sun:

"I did nothing wrong," Harewood said. "I watched the play over and over. I even asked [Pro Bowl defensive tackle] Haloti Ngata if he would call that and he said, 'No.' I'm appealing it. It's a lot of money. They better take off the whole fine."

Brockers was one of three defensive tackles to miss practice on Wednesday. The Rams only have six defensive tackles on their roster.

Matt Conrath and Darell Scott both missed practice on Wednesday as the Rams prepare for their season opener Sunday against the Detroit Lions. Conrath told the Associated Press he had not been ruled out for the game against Detroit.

The Rams kick off against the Lions on Sunday at 12 p.m. CT on Fox.

For all the latest Rams news, go to Turf Show Times. Follow the rest of the NFL action at SB Nation NFL.

Already drafted your fantasy team and looking for a new challenge? Try our Pick 6 challenge!


Week 1 NFL Odds: Rams Vs. Lions

The Detroit Lions caused a stir throughout the NFL last season as one of the up-and-coming teams to watch going forward. Current lines, according to OddsShark, indicate the heightened expectations of them as they host a team looking to make some noise of their own in 2012, the St. Louis Rams, on Sunday in Week 1.

Detroit, likely to be jostling for supremacy in a crowded NFC North all season, is favored by 9 points over St. Louis. The 5 Dimes Sportsbook has the spread set at 11 points, with others such as Bovada, Just Bet and Top Bet are all favoring the Lions by 9.5.

The over/under opened at 46.5 points but dipped a bit, currently sitting at 45.5. Detroit, with an explosive offense captained by quarterback Matthew Stafford and constant big-play receiving threat Calvin Johnson, is likely being counted on to put up eye-popping numbers from the get-go. It will be the task of the Rams' offense, led by Sam Bradford, to try and match them.

Kickoff is set for noon CT at Ford Field in Detroit.

For all the latest Rams news, go to Turf Show Times. Follow the rest of the NFL action at SB Nation NFL.


Steven Jackson Near Middle Of Fantasy Football Running Back Pack In Week 1

As Week 1 of the 2012 fantasy football season dawns—I guess that's also the beginning of the regular season—Steven Jackson, the official Only Fantasy Football Player of the St. Louis Rams, was ranked near the middle of the running back pack by WalterFootball, where he's 12th overall. In a game against the Detroit Lions, where there's a possibility Jackson will be neutralized in the second half as Sam Bradford throws long passes toward the sideline, I think that qualifies as a minor vote of confidence.

Jackson fell in a number of fantasy football leagues amid concerns about his age and Isaiah Pead's role on the team, but he's still an every-week starter for all but the most stacked teams, and Week 1 is no exception. One thing worth watching out for—how Jeff Fisher and Brian Schottenheimer use Jackson in the receiving game. At his peak Jackson was a dangerous and oft-targeted receiver, but he's become little more than a secondary option over the last few seasons. If he gets a few more targets than expected, his value could go up in spite of Pead's presence on the roster.


Detroit Lions Worry About Ndamukong Suh's Development, Feel Kinship With Rams

Two seasons out, all the questions about who should take whom in the 2010 NFL Draft seem a little more—well, low stakes than usual. The Detroit Lions, who host the St. Louis Rams on Sunday, haven't had significantly more luck with Ndamukong Suh than the Rams have with Sam Bradford. Now the first two picks will meet on Ford Field to open their third seasons as high-priced minor disappointments—and the last season in which fans will be hoping unreservedly for a breakout.

Matthew Stafford—the 2009 No. 1, and another key figure in Sunday's game—is an example of this sort of thing turning out all right. But while both players have been saying the right things—Sam Bradford insists he's not injured and feels great, Ndamukong Suh is focused on this season—they could find themselves rapidly moving from the center of their franchises to the bubble with a poor performance in their junior year.

All that starts Sunday. And while it's possible for both of them to have a good game, it seems like one of the two titans of the 2010 draft is likely to start off their 2012 season with something of a bad omen.


Danny Amendola: Fantasy Football Sleeper Status Awaits If St. Louis Rams Trail Sunday

Mike Dietrich at Turf Show Times brings up an interesting point in looking at some possible fantasy football sleepers: Danny Amendola could be a difference-maker, especially in points-for-receptions leagues—but his value goes up the further the St. Louis Rams trail in Sunday's Week 1 road trip vs. the Detroit Lions. As Sam Bradford's security blanket, Amendola could get constant second-half touches if the Rams are forced to abandon the run and move to the dink-and-dunk Shurmur-ized strategy that they've pushed on Bradford when his usage goes up.

As the Rams' No. 1 option by default going into this season, Amendola's likely to pick up a lot of low-yardage receptions anyway. But if they have to take the ball away from Steven Jackson in the fourth quarter—well, he could be the guy your fantasy opponent ends up cursing come Monday morning.

As for the religious implications of benefiting from your favorite team getting reamed by Matthew Stafford and Calvin Johnson on the first week of the season—well, that's between you and whichever higher power you put your faith in after joining Fantasy Anonymous.

For more Fantasy Football coverage leading up to Week 1 stay tuned to SB Nation St. Louis, where we're not just covering Danny Amendola—we're also owners.


Matthew Stafford, Detroit Lions Have St. Louis Rams' New Secondary To Contend With

I should make this clear at the front: The St. Louis Rams' newly revamped secondary, featuring Cortland Finnegan and Janoris Jenkins, is not going to stop Calvin Johnson. Nothing can stop Calvin Johnson, except a fireball that consumes the earth, and even then he'd probably outrun it for a while and die attempting a stiff-arm. But Matthew Stafford will be at least mildly inconvenienced by the Rams in Week 1. And for Rams fans, Matthew Stafford being inconvenienced is a remarkable improvement.

The Rams' secondary last year allowed 3301 yards and 21 touchdowns, which was actually pretty good. But it's hard to avoid the sinking feeling that most of that pretty-goodness came from teams deciding it would be more sporting to just run the clock out sometime around quarter three. (They allowed 510 rushing attempts, which is, uh, something.)

Injuries and ineffectiveness more or less wiped the old crew out entirely, and Jeff Fisher and company started over immediately upon taking the reins, signing Cortland Finnegan to a huge deal and drafting risky upside bet Janoris Jenkins in the second round. The results might not be amazing immediately. But if they're inconveniencing, especially to all 5000 yards of Matthew Stafford, a cheer will erupt across St. Louis Sunday afternoon


Calvin Johnson A Worst-Case Scenario For St. Louis Rams' Brand-New Secondary

If you were looking to see how the St. Louis Rams' big free-agency pickup, Cortland Finnegan, and big rookie gamble, Janoris Jenkins, performed amid adversity, Week 1 should answer most of your questions: Matthew Stafford and the Detroit Lions are set to aim for passing records again in 2012, and Finnegan will get Calvin Johnson—almost certainly the best wide receiver in football—as his first regular-season assignment since joining the Rams.

Well. Failing to contain Calvin Johnson is not exactly a deal-breaker for Finnegan, since nobody else can do it either. But if the Rams' new secondary is able to keep the Lions' offense slow enough for Sam Bradford and company to compete, it'll be like they shut out any other team, especially in an NFC West that features John Skelton and Russell Wilson among its starting quarterbacks.

This is the worst-case scenario for the Rams' new secondary: Without any regular-season football under its collective belt, it needs to stop the most dangerous wide receiver in the NFL, heading an offense that never stops passing. But if they can stop Calvin Johnson, they can stop anyone.


NFL Power Rankings 2012: St. Louis Rams Avoid Bottom As Packers Lead Week 1 Ranks

I'm not sure what's less surprising about NFL.com's first regular-season set of 2012 NFL Power Rankings: That the Green Bay Packers lead, or that the St. Louis Rams are lurking near the very bottom of the chart. You're welcome to come to your own conclusion, but if it changes your mind, keep in mind that the Rams actually avoided the bottom of the list, sneaking past the Minnesota Vikings, Miami Dolphins, and Cleveland Browns to finish at No. 29.

Ahead of Week 1 these aren't exactly the most useful rankings ever devised by man—in fact, I'm not sure how useful power rankings ever are—but if they function, at least in part, as a referendum on the turnaround strategy each team at the bottom has chosen to employ, this serves as at least a minor endorsement of Jeff Fisher, Les Snead and company.

Though, seriously? The Arizona Cardinals are No. 27? The NFL.com power-rankers-that-be must be a little higher on John Skelton than I am, or else a lot lower on Sam Bradford's ability to be a replacement-level quarterback.


Sam Bradford's Progress Under Pressure Key For Rams Vs. Lions, Ndamukong Suh

The Detroit Lions and the St. Louis Rams are looking to develop opposing goals for two highly touted 2010 rookies who've fallen on hard times. In Sam Bradford, the Rams have a quarterback prospect who's struggled to develop while overwhelmed by the pressure opposing defenses have been able to put on his weak offensive line. In Ndamukong Suh, the No. 2 overall pick, the Lions have a defensive tackle who looked like an epochal quarterback-bruiser in 2010, and a pretty okay defensive tackle in 2011.

It could be that neither of them answers the lingering questions that surround them in Week 1. But if one of them does, the other's likely to have a lot of bad press to answer to in time for Week 2.Turf Show Times did a great job Tuesday of making the case for Sam Bradford, pointing to his outstanding throw inside the end zone and behind a collapsing line against the Baltimore Ravens last week without downplaying his two awful preseason performances.

Sam Bradford and Ndamukong Suh are going to always be connected by their positions in the 2010 NFL Draft, no matter how their careers turn out. Week 1, both men will get a chance to prove their team made the right decision.


Rams Vs. Lions: St. Louis A 7.5-Point Underdog

The St. Louis Rams open their 2012 season in a familiar situation: as underdogs. The Rams are 7 1/2-point underdogs to the Detroit Lions in Sunday's season opener.

The Rams have a lot of ground to make up after a 2-14 season in 2011, and that process began during the 2012 NFL draft when St. Louis held the No. 2 overall pick and turned it into the Nos. 14 and 45 overall picks (from the Dallas Cowboys), and the No. 39 overall selection and first-round selections in 2013 and 2014 (from the Washington Redskins).

Oddsmakers seem to agree that the rebuilding process will take until at least Week 2 of the NFL's regular season to take hold.

Meanwhile, the Detroit Lions are coming off one of their most successful seasons in years. The Lions finished 10-6 and qualified for the playoffs for the first time since 1999, though they lost in the wild card round to the New Orleans Saints 45-28.

The Rams kick off on the road against Detroit on Sunday at noon CT. The game will be televised on Fox.

For all the latest Rams news, go to Turf Show Times. Follow the rest of the NFL action at SB Nation NFL.

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