NFL Prediction (07/05/13)
Each day over the next two weeks we will reveal a Prediction of the Day, where we share an interesting player or team prediction leading into the 2013 NFL season.
Prediction: The St. Louis Rams will win more games than the Atlanta Falcons.
Why it is likely:
While our research has long asserted that Jeff Fisher is among the elite head coaches in football at getting the most from his talent, the Rams are also the most improved team in the NFL year-over-year. Yes, they have to play the 49ers and Seahawks each twice, but the NFC South is actually more competitive top to bottom than the NFC West and the Falcons have to go to Green Bay and San Francisco this year to play in outdoor venues against elite teams. Atlanta gave up over six yards-per-play (30th in the NFL) in 2012 and completely lacked a pass rush despite playing against a well below average schedule.
This projection does not suggest that Sam Bradford is a better quarterback than Matt Ryan, but it does expect Bradford to move in a positive direction with a better offensive line and young, improving weapons. If he fails to do that, the Rams are in trouble. Atlanta added Osi Umenyiora in attempt to aid the pass rush. He does not look like a good enough upgrade from what the Falcons got out of John Abraham last year, but at just 31 years old, he could regain the abilities of seasons past and drastically improve this defense.
Admittedly, as shocking as this sounds, it’s about as likely that the Rams and Falcons end up with the same record (probably 8-8 or 9-7) than that the Rams win more games. Still, with the Rams projected to win 8.5 games and the Falcons projected to win 8.2, this certainly seems notable.