(Football StL) -- The Rams will be serious playoff contenders in ‘13 because:
1- They bolstered the offensive line by signing Jake Long as a free agent. Long is one of the premier left tackles in football and represents a huge upgrade at the position that protects Sam Bradford’s blindside.
2- They finally have a wide receiver with legitimate game breaking ability. They drafted Tavon Austin in the first round, giving them the “home run” hitter they’ve lacked at the position since Torry Holt left.
3- The pass rush. The Rams were tied with Denver for the league lead in sacks last season with 52. They’ve added rookie Alec Ogletree to the mix and should have an even better rush this season.
4- Greg “the leg”. As a rookie in 2012, Greg Zuerlein made seven field goals from beyond the 50 yard line. He’s a valuable weapon to have, and figures to improve in his sophomore season.
The Rams won’t be serious playoff contenders in ‘13 because:
1- No Steven Jackson. The franchise’s all time leading rusher bolted to Atlanta as a free agent. The Rams failed to acquire a player of similar ability during the off season. Who’s the starter here?
2- Uncertainty at safety. The Rams lost both starting safeties from last season and replaced them with very young, untested players.
3- Inability to move the chains. The Rams ranked 27th in the league last year in first downs. They were 29th in 3rd down conversions.
4- Quarterback play. Maybe this is the year Bradford begins to excel, but he was 18th in qb rating last year and has been only an average quarterback in his career. Hard to win big without great play at qb.