Dubs' Pigskin Picks & Preview - Week 8

Streeter Lecka

In the wake of Sam Bradford's season ending injury, the Rams face an uncertain remainder of the season. Kellen Clemens will get the call as Bradford's replacement. His first assignment is against perhaps the best team in the league: the Seattle Seahawks. Can the Rams pull off an upset, and repeat last year's performance at home? Can Dubs continue gaining ground on the leaders in the weekly picks race?

Week 7 of the NFL season is in the history books. It was a devastating one for the St. Louis Rams. The Rams host the 6-1 divisional rival Seattle Seahawks on Monday Night Football. The Seahawks are on a two game winning streak, and are coming off a convincing 34-22 victory, over the Arizona Cardinals. They will present a formidable challenge for the Rams, who will rely on QB Kellen Clemens to guide them in their first game without Sam Bradford.

Week 7 Results

The accompanying chart presents the results of my picks for Week 7, and the season totals to-date:

Week Wins Straight Up Wins vs Spread Hot Picks vs. Spread Rams Straight Up
Last Week 9 6 11 4 2 1 0 1
Season 70 37 64 43 15 6 3 4

With 5 games too close to call, and 10 games with the spread tough to navigate, Week 7 was a difficult one for picks [both straight-up and against the spread]. Despite the difficulty, it was a better than average week picking straight-up [9 wins], and a great week picking against the spread [11 wins]. Week 8 promises to be easier for picking, with only 3 games that are difficult to assess.

How am I faring against the 93 experts Pickwatch is tracking? (link). My 9-6 record was the same as the leader, former NFL quarterback Ron Jaworski. I remain 6 games behind him in the weekly picks competition. My 70 wins remains tied for 14th in the overall standings. It's 2 wins away from being tied for 5th place. The leader board is quite bunched up in the top 20. The chart below identifies the top 25 in the standings:

Rank Expert Affiliation Week 1 Week 2 Week 3 Week 4 Week 5 Week 6 Week 7 Wins Losses Win %
1 Ron Jaworski ESPN 11 12 12 12 11 9 9 76 31 71%
2 Gregg Rosenthal NFL 11 13 8 11 8 14 9 74 33 69%
3 Prediction Machine CBS 11 13 11 9 7 12 10 73 34 68%
4 Matt Miller Bleacher Report 14 12 10 10 8 10 9 73 34 68%
5 Chris Brockman NFL 9 14 11 9 8 10 11 72 35 67%
6 Mark Schlereth ESPN 11 12 8 10 9 12 10 72 35 67%
7 Black Tie NFL 13 11 6 11 10 11 10 72 35 67%
8 Michael Fabiano NFL 10 13 8 10 10 11 10 72 35 67%
9 Michael Silver NFL 12 14 9 9 8 10 10 72 35 67%
10 Jamey Eisenberg CBS 11 13 12 8 8 10 10 72 35 67%
11 Mike Golic ESPN 9 13 8 10 10 10 11 71 36 66%
12 Andrea Hangst Bleacher Report 10 11 12 9 9 10 10 71 36 66%
13 Don Banks Sports Illustrated 11 14 10 9 8 10 9 71 36 66%
14 Tom Jackson ESPN 10 13 11 7 7 10 12 70 37 65%
15 Adam Meyer FOX 10 11 9 9 8 12 11 70 37 65%
16 Matt Bowen Bleacher Report 10 13 9 7 8 12 11 70 37 65%
17 Khaled Elsayed ProFootballFocus 11 11 9 9 8 12 10 70 37 65%
18 John Halpin FOX 9 11 11 10 7 12 10 70 37 65%
19 Ben Stockwell ProFootballFocus 12 11 8 11 7 11 10 70 37 65%
20 Pete O'Brien USA Today 12 11 10 9 8 10 10 70 37 65%
21 Ryan Wilson CBS 12 12 9 9 8 10 10 70 37 65%
22 K.C. Joyner ESPN 12 12 9 7 10 11 9 70 37 65%
23 Joel Beall FOX 11 11 11 9 9 11 8 70 37 65%
24 Michael David Smith PFT 12 12 10 9 8 11 8 70 37 65%
25 Henry Hodgson NFL 10 11 11 11 10 9 8 70 37 65%

How did my weekly "Hot Picks Versus The Spread" fare? Atlanta and San Francisco both won and covered the spread. Kansas City defeated Houston but did not cover the spread. My "hot picks" record for the week: 2-1. Overall, my "hot picks" record for the season is 15-6.

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Week 8 Picks

For reference, the accompanying chart presents the straight-up, against the spread, and over/under records for all 32 NFL teams, after Week 7:

NFL RANKINGS
Straight-Up Against The Spread Over/Under
Team Total Home Away Total Home Away Total Home Away
Arizona Cardinals 3-4-0 2-1-0 1-3-0 4-3-0 2-1-0 2-2-0 3-4-0 1-2-0 2-2-0
Atlanta Falcons 2-4-0 2-2-0 0-2-0 2-4-0 2-2-0 0-2-0 5-1-0 4-0-0 1-1-0
Baltimore Ravens 3-4-0 2-1-0 1-3-0 4-3-0 3-0-0 1-3-0 2-5-0 0-3-0 2-2-0
Buffalo Bills 3-4-0 2-2-0 1-2-0 5-2-0 4-0-0 1-2-0 4-2-1 2-2-0 2-0-1
Carolina Panthers 3-3-0 2-1-0 1-2-0 3-3-0 2-1-0 1-2-0 2-3-1 1-2-0 1-1-1
Chicago Bears 4-3-0 3-1-0 1-2-0 1-5-1 0-3-1 1-2-0 6-1-0 3-1-0 3-0-0
Cincinnati Bengals 5-2-0 3-0-0 2-2-0 4-2-1 3-0-0 1-2-1 4-3-0 1-2-0 3-1-0
Cleveland Browns 3-4-0 2-2-0 1-2-0 3-4-0 2-2-0 1-2-0 3-4-0 2-2-0 1-2-0
Dallas Cowboys 4-3-0 3-1-0 1-2-0 6-1-0 4-0-0 2-1-0 3-4-0 2-2-0 1-2-0
Denver Broncos 6-1-0 4-0-0 2-1-0 3-4-0 2-2-0 1-2-0 7-0-0 4-0-0 3-0-0
Detroit Lions 4-3-0 2-1-0 2-2-0 4-3-0 2-1-0 2-2-0 4-3-0 3-0-0 1-3-0
Green Bay Packers 4-2-0 3-0-0 1-2-0 3-3-0 3-0-0 0-3-0 3-3-0 1-2-0 2-1-0
Houston Texans 2-5-0 1-2-0 1-3-0 1-6-0 0-3-0 1-3-0 4-3-0 3-0-0 1-3-0
Indianapolis Colts 5-2-0 3-1-0 2-1-0 4-3-0 2-2-0 2-1-0 3-4-0 3-1-0 0-3-0
Jacksonville Jaguars 0-7-0 0-3-0 0-4-0 1-6-0 0-3-0 1-3-0 3-4-0 0-3-0 3-1-0
Kansas City Chiefs 7-0-0 4-0-0 3-0-0 5-2-0 2-2-0 3-0-0 1-6-0 0-4-0 1-2-0
Miami Dolphins 3-3-0 1-2-0 2-1-0 3-3-0 1-2-0 2-1-0 4-1-1 2-0-1 2-1-0
Minnesota Vikings 1-5-0 1-2-0 0-3-0 2-4-0 1-2-0 1-2-0 4-1-1 2-0-1 2-1-0
New England Patriots 5-2-0 3-0-0 2-2-0 3-4-0 2-1-0 1-3-0 3-4-0 1-2-0 2-2-0
New Orleans Saints 5-1-0 3-0-0 2-1-0 4-2-0 3-0-0 1-2-0 2-4-0 1-2-0 1-2-0
New York Giants 1-6-0 1-2-0 0-4-0 2-5-0 1-2-0 1-3-0 4-3-0 2-1-0 2-2-0
New York Jets 4-3-0 3-1-0 1-2-0 5-2-0 3-1-0 2-1-0 4-3-0 2-2-0 2-1-0
Oakland Raiders 2-4-0 2-1-0 0-3-0 4-2-0 2-1-0 2-1-0 1-5-0 0-3-0 1-2-0
Philadelphia Eagles 3-4-0 0-3-0 3-1-0 3-4-0 0-3-0 3-1-0 5-2-0 1-2-0 4-0-0
Pittsburgh Steelers 2-4-0 1-2-0 1-2-0 2-4-0 1-2-0 1-2-0 2-4-0 1-2-0 1-2-0
San Diego Chargers 4-3-0 2-1-0 2-2-0 5-1-1 3-0-0 2-1-1 3-4-0 2-1-0 1-3-0
San Francisco 49ers 5-2-0 3-1-0 2-1-0 5-2-0 3-1-0 2-1-0 4-3-0 2-2-0 2-1-0
Seattle Seahawks 6-1-0 3-0-0 3-1-0 5-2-0 2-1-0 3-1-0 4-3-0 1-2-0 3-1-0
St. Louis Rams 3-4-0 2-1-0 1-3-0 2-5-0 1-2-0 1-3-0 6-1-0 3-0-0 3-1-0
Tampa Bay Buccaneers 0-6-0 0-3-0 0-3-0 1-5-0 1-2-0 0-3-0 2-4-0 1-2-0 1-2-0
Tennessee Titans 3-4-0 2-2-0 1-2-0 4-2-1 1-2-1 3-0-0 4-3-0 3-1-0 1-2-0
Washington Redskins 2-4-0 1-2-0 1-2-0 2-4-0 1-2-0 1-2-0 3-3-0 2-1-0 1-2-0

The accompanying chart presents the format [and my selections] for each game this week: home team - away team - the spread - my straight-up winner - which team covers/beats the spread - and the outcome of the game:

Home Away Spread Straight Up Vs. Spread Score
St. Louis Seattle Sea 11 Seattle Seattle 21 10
Tampa Bay Carolina Car 6 Carolina Carolina 24 17
Detroit Dallas Det 3 Detroit Dallas 21 20
Jacksonville San Francisco SF 16 1/2 San Francisco San Francisco 30 13
Kansas City Cleveland KC 7 1/2 Kansas City Kansas City 21 13
New England Miami NE 7 New England New England 23 14
New Orleans Buffalo NO 12 New Orleans New Orleans 27 13
Philadelphia NY Giants Phil 6 Philadelphia Philadelphia 20 13
Cincinnati NY Jets Cin 6 1/2 Cincinnati Cincinnati 27 17
Oakland Pittsburgh Pit 1 1/2 Pittsburgh Pittsburgh 23 20
Arizona Atlanta Ari 2 1/2 Atlanta Atlanta 27 24
Denver Washington Den 13 Denver Denver 34 20
Minnesota Green Bay GB 10 Green Bay Green Bay 31 20

Hot Picks Versus The Spread

New Orleans over Buffalo - After 5 straight wins to open the season, the Saints lost to New England in the final seconds. They will be looking to rebound at home, where they are 3-0 against the spread this year. Buffalo is 1-2 straight-up [ and against the spread] on the road this season.

San Francisco over Jacksonville - San Francisco is on a tear, having won their last 4 games. Jacksonville lost by 18 points at home last week, to the San Diego Chargers.

Carolina over Tampa Bay - Carolina is coming off a pair of convincing wins against St. Louis and Minnesota. Tampa Bay is 0-6 and floundering. An easy win for Carolina.

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Keys For The Rams vs. Seattle

  1. The Rams are ranked 30th in run defense after 7 games. Containing Marshawn Lynch and Russell Wilson will be a key to the Rams chances in this game.
  2. The Seahawks have one of the top defenses in the league, ranking 3rd in points allowed per-game, 2nd in total yards and passing yards allowed per-game, and 6th in rushing yards allowed. The Rams will need to establish the run with Zac Stacy, and use a ball-control offense to protect QB Kellen Clemens.
  3. The Rams must win the turnover battle to have a chance in this game. Seattle is tied for the 2nd best turnover differential in the league. Protecting the ball, and forcing turnovers, will be key for the Rams.
  4. Minimizing penalties, especially on special teams, will allow the Rams better field position, and momentum on drives. A timely punt return by Tavon Austin could be significant to the Rams chances for a win.
  5. Containing Russell Wilson in the pocket, and pressuring him, will be vital to slowing down Seattle's rushing and passing game.

Prediction: Seattle 21 - Rams 10

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Perspective On The Rams Versus Seattle

Jamal Collier [Bleacher Report] breaks down St. Louis' game plan against the Seahawks (link).

ESPN's Mike Sando presents his "Inside Edge" on the Rams - Seattle game (link).

Seattle Stat Facts:

"The team's dominant defense is second in the league in total yardage allowed (282.1 per game) while limiting opponents to an average of 16.6 points."

"The Seahawks' offense is also rolling, ranking fourth in scoring with 27.3 points per game. Russell Wilson's 97.2 passer rating is seventh-best in the NFL, while Marshawn Lynch's 578 yards on the ground trail only Philadelphia's LeSean McCoy."

"Seattle has a plus-7 turnover differential in 2013 -- tied with Chicago and Indianapolis for second best in the league (Kansas City is plus-11). The only team in the league that has scored more points off turnovers than the Seahawks' (54) is San Francisco (58)."

All quotes are courtesy of the Wall Street Journal's game preview (link).

Advanced NFL Stats takes an in-depth, statistical look at the game between Seattle and the Rams (link).

Weekly prediction from Ramblin' Fan - S.I.:

"Seattle Seahawks @ St. Louis Rams. With Sam Bradford on the Injured Reserve list the Rams are going to be very hard pressed to score points against a very tough Seahawks defense. The Rams special teams has shown improvement over the past few weeks as they have limited the penalties that plagued them early, and Johnny Hekker and Young GZ have continued their excellent play and it may be up to them to provide the Rams with scoring opportunities. The Seahawks offense hasn’t been very impressive so far this season, but Marshawn Lynch should provide a good test for the Rams run defense. Seattle’s offensive line is still a bit of a patchwork unit, so the Rams might be able to pressure Russell Wilson early and often but if they don’t get him down with the initial rush big plays will be the result. As much as I want to believe the Rams have a legitimate shot in this game I just don’t see it without Bradford behind center. Seahawks win 35 – 12."

From Rant Sports NFL:

Defensively, the Rams rank 24th in points allowed per game and 22nd in total yards allowed per game — one of the lower-tiered defenses in the NFL. Don’t forget their 30th-ranked run defense that will struggle to stop Lynch and Wilson. The Seahawks have one of the top defenses in the league, ranking third in points allowed per game, second in total yards and pass yards allowed per game and sixth in rushing yards allowed.

PREDICTION: Seahawks 30, Rams 10

CBS Sports' Will Brinson, Pete Prisco, and Pat Kirwan preview the Rams vs. Seattle game (link).

ESPN's Nick Wagoner and Terry Blount assess Sunday's game and give their predictions (link):

MATCHUP ANALYSIS
Terry Blount: Everything seems to be playing in Seattle's favor for this game. The Rams are forced to go with a backup quarterback who hasn't started a game in two years, facing one of the best defenses in the NFL. Lynch and the power running game Seattle uses could be a problem for a Rams defense that ranks 30th in run defense. And the Seahawks are 3-1 on the road this season and 7-2 in their last nine road games.
Seahawks 31, Rams 16
Nick Wagoner: In a situation like the Rams are in, sometimes a team can enjoy a surge from circling the wagons and rallying against adversity. A team can also go the other direction and completely go in the tank. The Rams' defense has not played well in 2013 but it does know the Seahawks and it can get enough pressure on Wilson to keep it close. Ultimately, Lynch will be a bit too much and the Rams won't get enough from the offense to win as the Seahawks pull away late.
Seahawks 24, Rams 10
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