What's wrong with the Rams? First of all, I don't think Kurt Warner's healthy. Maybe it's his arm or shoulder or thumb, but something's wrong with his delivery. Watching the Rams lose to the Giants on Sunday, I heard Fox analyst Cris Collinsworth say something to the effect that Warner's passes don't always look pretty, but they get there. That's the first time I've ever heard that said about Warner, who always had one of the game's classic deliveries. His last pass on Sunday was intercepted by cornerback Will Peterson. The ball didn't come out right. It fluttered. No one will convince me that there isn't something wrong with him.
The offensive line lacks punch. Oh, it can pass-block and create creases for Marshall Faulk with traps and angle blocks, but it got whipped when it had to bang away in short-yardage situations against the Broncos in the opener and again versus the Giants.
The defense on Sunday made Kerry Collins look like John Elway. Part of the problem is that the Rams don't blitz much, and they don't generate enough heat with their front four. They have one big league rusher, Leonard Little, and a pair of high-motor D-linemen in Grant Wistrom and Brian Young, but they burn themselves out in a rush scheme that doesn't give them much help.
In the secondary Aeneas Williams is still as clever as they come, but at 34 he's slowing down. At the other corner Dre' Bly is talented, but he gambles too often.
?Still, I think the Rams will beat the Bucs with defense, overrunning quarterback Brad Johnson. St. Louis's back is to the wall now, and it's a proud team that's finally gotten mad.
?The Jets have beaten the Dolphins eight straight times. Remarkable, isn't it? Do I dare pick the Jets out of habit, after they got murdered by New England and should have lost to Buffalo? I do not. Miami breaks the jinx.
?The Saints are no longer a grind-it-out team. They're strictly big-play now, with lots of flash. On a hunch, let's give New Orleans a road win over the Bears in Champaign, III., in our upset special.
?The Giants are due for a letdown after their upset of the Rams, but the Seahawks have more problems than they do, even with Trent Dilfer back. The Giants are the pick.
?Tell me which quarterbacks are going to play, and I'll give you a winner in Cleveland-Tennessee. The Browns' Tim Couch is iffy with a sore right elbow. Steve McNair suffered a concussion in a loss to the Cowboys. If McNair's functional, I'll go with the Titans.
? Drew Bledsoe is off to a terrific start, best of his career, but Denver has become a team that's led by its defense, along with a thumping running game. Plus, Mile High—excuse me, Invesco Field at Mile High—is a tough place to play. The Broncos are the pick, but it won't be easy. ?The Chargers have allowed 321 yards total and no touchdowns in their first two games, but the Arizona heat can be brutal in September. Still, I'll take San Diego in a squeaker.