USA Online Sportsbooks Set New England Patriots As Favorites In Third NFL Pre-Season Game Against St. Louis Rams

August 24, 2010- By Jonathan Lowell

Thursday’s NFL pre-season match up will feature two teams that finished at very different positions at the end of the 2009 season. The St. Louis Rams finished last season with a league worst 1-15 record, and winless in their division. Their first round draft pick Sam Bradford will continue to try to make the team and change the Ram’s fortunes in 2010.

The New England Patriots finished 10-6 (4-2 in the AFC East) before losing a disappointing first round playoff game to the Baltimore Ravens at home. Tom Brady is back with a vengeance this year to prove that he has fully returned to form after his 2008 injury. USA welcome sportsbooks have set the Patriots as home favorites.

Bodog sportsbook has set the Patriots as seven point favorites, but the line has been seen as high as nine and as low as 6 1/2 by online sportsbooks. The over/under is set by most at 37 1/2, and can also be found at 38.

The top team in the AFC East last season hope that Brady can show Pro Bowl form again by matching or improving his 4,398 passing yard season from a year ago. He will have to as his backups now consist of Brian Hoyer and Zac Robinson. Hoyer is an undrafted second year player, and Robinson was taken late in the seventh round of this year’s draft. The team brought in Torry Holt to add experience to the receiving corps that will miss Benjamin Watson. Alge Crumpler is known for his years as Michael Vick’s top target in Atlanta, and will fill in for Watson. Laurence Maroney is expected to start at running back for the Patriots this season according to the 2010 New England Patriots season preview, but Fred Taylor and Kevin Faulk are expected to give him good competition. Trying to stop the New England runners will be the likes of Jake Long and Scott Darell on the defensive line. The Rams are not very deep at linebacker, but boast one of the best young linebackers in the league James Laurinaitis, who led the team in tackles last season. The defensive secondary for the Rams is depleted by nagging injuries, and Bradley Fletcher is one of the players looking to fully recover in time for the season.

St. Louis drafted Bradford with the first pick, believing that he would be the answers to their questions at quarterback for the future. The unimproved offensive line allowed him to be sacked several times, and the rookie has not shown the numbers the franchise expected. Wide receiver Donnie Avery is on the hot seat this season, as his production has not been up to par because of nagging injuries. Laurent Robinson, Brandon Gibson, and Mardy Gilyard are all receivers trying to make the top spot on the depth chart when looking at the 2010 St. Louis Rams season preview. Steven Jackson was the team’s top rusher last season, and also had the most receptions on his way to a second-team All Pro selection. The experienced defensive line of Gerard Warren, Ty Warren, and Vince Wilfork will be there to stop Jackson and his counterparts on Thursday. The linebacking corps have seen better days, but Tully Banta-Cain and Jerod Mayo are expected to be factors in the pass rush. Leigh Bodden and Brandon Meriweather are two threats in the secondary to Bradford and the Rams’ offense.

Weather reports for Thursday’s game in Foxborough are predicting partly cloudy skies with eight mph winds out of the west. The high is expected to reach 80 degrees, while the low rests at 53.

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