St. Louis Rams: 3 Expectations Every Fan Should Have for Week 1

Derek Piper@@FeelDaPaignCorrespondent ISeptember 4, 2012

St. Louis Rams: 3 Expectations Every Fan Should Have for Week 1

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    It would be an understatement to say the St. Louis Rams' 2011 season was a disappointment.

    Tallying an embarrassing 2-14 record, the Rams tied the Manning-less Indianapolis Colts for the worst record in the NFL. This season, Rams fans hope their team will be quick to erase the nightmares of 2011.

    Head coach Jeff Fisher will try to work his magic with one of the youngest rosters in the league.

    Having quarterback Sam Bradford and running back Steven Jackson healthy should help. However, cautious optimism should be the prescription for a team that has not won back-to-back games since December of 2010.

    Here is what fans can expect in the Rams' first game against the Detroit Lions on Sunday.

Big Performance from Sam Bradford

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    Bradford had a rough year in 2011, suffering a sophomore slump after being named the 2010 NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year.

    Plagued by an ankle injury and inconsistent play, Bradford was a shadow of his former self, throwing six touchdowns and six interceptions in 10 games last season.

    A 70.5 QB rating—which was worse than Tim Tebow, Rex Grossman and Mark Sanchez in 2011—tells the whole story.

    Nevertheless, Bradford is back at full strength this season, performing well in his preseason appearances. The third-year quarterback completed more than 58 percent of his passes for 398 yards and five touchdowns in preseason action.

    Now, Bradford is set to appear in his first regular-season game since last December.
    Despite his sophomore struggles, Bradford should have great success against a fragile Lions secondary.

    The Lions were dreadful against the pass last season, giving up a combined 946 yards and nine touchdowns through the air in their last two contests.

    Seattle Seahawks quarterback Matt Flynn, who threw for a Green Bay Packers' single-game record six touchdown passes against Detroit in January, can thank the Lions for his new three-year, $19.5 million contract.

    While his receiving corps is less than stellar, expect Bradford to have a big day on Sunday.

100-Yard Game from Steven Jackson

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    Jackson quietly had a great season in 2011.

    Rushing for 1,145 yards (ninth in the league), Jackson put together his seventh straight 1,000-yard season—the longest active streak in the NFL.

    With his quarterback back and healthy, Jackson is primed for another successful year in 2012, as opposing defenses will be unable to put eight or nine guys in the box.

    Expect Jackson to have a big game against the Lions rushing defense, which gave up more than 128 yards per game in 2011.

    Lions defensive tackles Nick Fairley and Ndamukong Suh will be tough tasks for the Rams offensive line. However, Jackson is one of the best in the league at hitting the hole with a full head of steam.

    Anticipating a 100-yard game from Jackson would be anything but wishful thinking.

Headaches from Calvin Johnson

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    Words of advice for Rams fans: Locate the bottle of Tylenol before Sunday, because Calvin Johnson is sure to cause headaches come game time.

    "Megatron" was unstoppable last season, leading the NFL with more than 1,600 yards receiving, along with 16 touchdowns.

    Johnson wasted no time getting things going in 2011, catching two touchdown passes in each of the Lions first four games.

    The Rams' pass defense was below average last season, ranking 23rd in opponents' passer rating.

    The signing of cornerback Cortland Finnegan will surely strengthen the Rams secondary this season.

    However, neither Finnegan nor the Madden curse is going to keep Johnson from tearing through opposing defenses yet again in 2012.