Every week during the season, we’ll scout out the Eagles next opponent. This week, that opponent is the St. Louis Rams.
The Opponent: The St. Louis Rams, aka the Greatest Show On Turf (RIP, 2002), aka the Anaheim Rams (coming to you fall of 2015).
2010 Record: 7-9, 2nd in the NFC West.
The Line: Eagles by 5. Never fun to start your season with the dreaded "road favorite" label. That's always the kiss of death.
Last Game: A 16-6 loss to Seattle that cost the Rams the NFC West title and propelled the Seahawks into the playoffs with a 7-9 record. And while the Seahawks may have won the battle, all you need to do is look at the QBs of each team know the Rams are poised to win the war.
The Coach: Steve Spagnuolo. But Spags isn't the big news here. No, no. the big news is that the Rams brought in the Boy Wonder himself, Josh McDaniels, to personally tutor Sam Bradford and demand anyone who looks at him funny be cut. The nice thing about Josh McDaniels is that he wasn't chastened by his failure in Denver at all, so when he gets Bradford to a Pro Bowl and then is hired as a head coach for a second time, we'll get to watch him make the exact same mistakes all over again. FUN!
The Offense: Bradford is well on his way to becoming one of the NFC's best quarterbacks, perhaps as early as this season. But his receiving corps is iffy, with former Jag Mike Sims-Walker the best bet to become his favorite downfield target. The rest of his outside options - Danny Amendola, etc. - aren't all that imposing. The Eagles new superteam of corners should be able to hold them down. The question is if TE Lance Kendricks will be as effective as he was in the preseason, in which case the Eagles have a little something extra to be worried about. Steven Jackson is also back to do some damage from the backfield, and he has Jerious Norwood and the corpse of Cadillac Williams backing him up. This offense represents a perfect first challenge for the newly configured Eagles D: Talented in spots, but not instantly formidable the way playing New England right off the bat might be.
The Defense: You remember Quintin Mikell, don't you? He's with the Rams now, and I'm sure he had plenty to tell Spagnuolo this week. The Rams don't have the greatest defensive personnel in the world, but Spags excels at concocting schemes to shut down high-profile offenses like the one Michael Vick leads. Also, the pass rushing combo of James Hall and Chris Long represent a good opening challenge for Howard Mudd's retooled o-line. This is no cakewalk.
Key Matchup: Jason Peters vs. Long. It's the first game of what the Eagles hope is a long and fruitful season. Best to keep Mike Vick upright for at least one week.