Today's Free Picks for
Posted Friday at 1:00 PM EST.
4:05 PM EST. The analytics love the Rams and so do we. Earlier this week we posted a futures bet on Los Angeles to win the NFC West and we are not going to back off here. Under Jeff Fisher, the Rams offense was stale and ranked last in the league in offensive DVOA, (a relevant metric that measures defense-adjusted value over average) at -37.8% which is really bad. The Colts this year for example, are -41% so far this season and they are missing their star quarterback. Fisher refused to play number one pick, Jared Goff until it was too late and the Rams season was over. Goff was on the run for his life and actually finished with a DVOA rating of -74.8% in his seven games played, which Football Outsiders called, "historically bad". Fast forward to this season to new head Sean McVay, who is the youngest NFL head coach in history at just 30 years old and has totally changed the culture of this organization in just one offseason.
On the surface, The Rams offense can no longer be ignored. Through four games Goff and company lead the league in points per game (35.5), are fourth in total passing yards (1081), and fifth in total yards per game (383.3). Running back Todd Gurley has regained his formed and looks revitalized under the new offense. The running game is averaging 133.5 yards per game with Gurley doing the bulk of the work with 362 yards. The Rams have the goods under the hood to back up their impressive offensive improvement. Goff now leads all quarterbacks in passing DVOA after completing 66.7% of his passes for 9.2 yards per attempt, which is incredible considering where he was in 2016. Remember how we said Goff was on the run last season, well that’s because the Rams were 29th in both adjusted line yards and adjusted sack rate in 2016. After the first month of the 2017 campaign, L.A.’s O-line has improved greatly, ranking fourth this season in both of those categories. Centre John Sullivan has been a big reason for that, as he’s only blown two blocks all season. The Ram’s defense has been no slouch either with 12 sacks, which is good for third in the NFL. That’s bad news for a Seahawks offensive line that might be the worst in the league.
The final score of Seattle’s 46-18 route of Indianapolis might have been the most misleading of Week 4. At halftime, the Seahawks were actually down 15-10. A couple of Colts penalties including a 15-yard unnecessary roughness call helped lead the Seahawks on a touchdown drive to start the 3rd. After a fumble by Colts QB Jacoby Brissett was returned for a TD, the train came off the tracks and Seattle ran up the score. While Russell Wilson finished the day with three touchdowns, he had two interceptions before the floodgates opened. Indy ranks last in just about every relevant offensive metric and their defense is in the bottom third. The Seahawks should have destroyed them but Seattle played poorly enough to keep Indy in the game for far too long. On the season as a whole, the Seahawks are 2-2 but their other win came over the 49ers, who also rank in the bottom third of DVOA in many categories. Seattle defeated San Francisco 12-9 but they needed a fourth-quarter comeback just to win as double-digit home chalk. Which Seahawks team is the real one? The squad that struggled with two of the worst teams in football for six quarters or the one that rolled over the Colts for 30 minutes. We lean hard to the former.
The Seahawks defense still holds a ton of weight in the media and the market but the numbers show that their a middle of the pack unit, ranking 14th in total defensive DVOA just ahead of the Packers and Chargers, two other teams not known for their defense. The Seahawks are a 2-2 team that could easily be 1-3 or even 0-4 had the wheels not come off of the Colts in the second half of Sunday’s game. Even in their darkest days under Fisher, the Rams gave the Seahawks their fair share of troubles, especially at home including last season when they beat Seattle 9-3 as a 5½-point pooch. That was the Rams third straight home win going back to 2014. The Seahawks are winless on the road this season with losses at Green Bay and Tennessee.
Break it down any way you want but we’re calling this the proverbial passing of the torch. The Seahawks have been dominating this division for years and their pedigree still holds a lot of weight while the Rams haven’t convinced anyone of anything. Last year the Rams started 3-1 also but went on to win just one of their final 12 games. The market is not buying that the Rams are different this year but we are. They have a QB, they have playmakers, they have some of the best offensive and defensive players in the game but nobody is buying it because it’s the Rams. Here’s what we wrote earlier this week, “The Rams are coming on big time while the Seahawks have holes in their lineup all over the place. The Rams are a legit threat while the Seahawks are not.” We can’t be any clearer than that so we’ll double down and take the Rams to win in this evenly priced game.
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L.A. RAMS -105 (Risking 2.1 units - To Win: 2.00)