NFL Preseason Picks — Starters Will Watch Rams-Broncos Clash


The Los Angeles Rams aren’t interested in sitting idle and expecting that a second consecutive Super Bowl trip is just going to come to them. But you shouldn’t get the impression that these regular season aspirations translate into a big effort in the pre-season.

The Denver Broncos are entering something of a different phase under new coach Vic Fangio. They’re hoping they can get a playoff-level quarterback effort out of Joe Flacco, although they suffered a setback with their “quarterback of the future” just recently.

The Rams and Broncos will meet up on Saturday night at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, with the kickoff scheduled for 9 PM ET. Remember that at BetAnySports you can place wagers even after the game begins, as you access the advanced technology of Live Betting Ultra.

The Rams not only play it “vanilla” in the pre-season, they don’t like playing their starters at all, at least not for the most part. Coach Sean McVay says that it is just not worth the risk. It’s even risky for guys who aren’t starters yet. Micah Kizer, who they were hoping might be able to nail down an inside linebacker spot, suffered a pectoral injury and is gone for the foreseeable future.

The third pre-season game is not “dress rehearsal” for everybody. McVay, like more and more coaches, is putting more stock in joint practices, which are under a controlled atmosphere. So the bottom line with the Rams is, you can forget the starters.

And guess what? That’s the case with the Broncos too. Fangio is going to sit his starters down for the rest of the pre-season. Of course, Denver’s situation is a bit different, as they have already played three games, having participated in the Hall of Fame Game.

In the NFL pre-season betting odds that have been established on this game, the Rams are the slight favorites:

Los Angeles Rams -1.5 (-105)
Denver Broncos +1.5 (-105)

Over 35 points (-105)
Under 35 points (-105)

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There’s nothing wrong with Flacco, who is reportedly connecting very well with his receivers in drills. He also doesn’t mind seeing very limited action in the pre-season (“I’ve played a lot of games”) and frankly, it’s probably better he sits out, given his injury history.

They’d like to have seen more of Drew Lock, though. The second-round pick out of Missouri was a work in progress, but he suffered a severely-sprained thumb that is going keep him out for at least half a season if he has to go on injured reserve. It also leaves the Broncos (100-1 to win the Super Bowl) in a spot where they have to take an extended look at Kevin Hogan and Brett Rypien, who would have been competing for the #3 quarterback spot.

Since it’s possible one of them is going to be the backup, they should be motivated to look sharp on Saturday night. Fangio is not going to equally balance the snaps between the two; he’s already said that. But he won’t say who gets more action. Our first guess was that it was going to be Rypien, since the Denver staff knows more about what Hogan can do, as he logged some starting time with the Browns a couple of years ago.

But there’s a theory being advanced by Ryan O’Halloran of the Denver Post that Rypien’s playing time has been limited because the Broncos want to stash him on the practice squad, with other teams having as little tape on him as possible so they won’t claim him. And that would also impact his activity on Saturday.

Meanwhile, with the Rams (priced at +1175 to win it all), Blake Bortles isn’t going to set the world on fire, no matter what time of the year he’s playing. McVay has given Brandon Allen a lot of playing time, and then there’s John Wolford, who had his moments in the Alliance of American Football.

The Rams couldn’t possibly fit our description of a “go-with” team here. So we’d give Denver something of an edge. But this isn’t a game where I would look for a lot of offense, so the “under” is probably the most judicious place to look.

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