We all know about pre-season games – not to put much stock in results, either on the individual level or by the actual score line, but hard core fans can find a silver lining and glean certain important bits of information. The respective coaches, Denver Coach John Fox and St. Louis Coach Jeff Fisher, spent the first half running through many of the plays and formations that they will run on opening weekend – the Broncos host the Baltimore Ravens on September 5 in the official NFL kickoff game, while the Rams host the Arizona Cardinals at home on September 8 – while not giving away too much about the quirks and wrinkles each team will employ when the games mean something.
Denver has been tabbed as the prohibitive Super Bowl favorites after winning 13 games in 2012 until the Ravens pulled off the dramatic win in the playoff semi-finals back in January on their way to winning the Super Bowl. They’ve signed several key players, like receiver Wes Welker and defensive back Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, to bolster their team, but they have suffered significant injuries in their offensive and defensive lines that will test their depth. They will also lose linebacker Von Miller to a six-game suspension for violations of the NFL’s drug policy, which will put extra pressure on the entire team to make up for his loss.
St. Louis, meanwhile, has put together an incredible base of young talent and were very respectable in the NFC West in 2012, having wins over both Seattle and San Francisco in the regular season. The organization has wanted to upgrade the talent around quarterback Sam Bradford, and they did that by signing tight end Jared Cook and drafting wide receiver Tavon Austin. With an improving defense and exceptional special teams players like kicker Greg Zuerlein, the Rams are one of the teams that experts think could be a huge surprise in the NFC, especially if the Seahawks or 49ers struggle at any point.
Here’s what else we learned from the preseason game, which ended up Denver 27, St. Louis 26.