Week 4 of the NFL season is in the history books. The Rams are coming off a pair of lopsided losses [to Dallas and San Francisco], and are looking to rebound against the worst team in the league - the Jacksonville Jaguars. The Rams will have had ten days to work on all of the areas that are ailing the team. This game could have far-reaching implications for the Rams, and may be indicative of how the remainder of their season will unfold.
Week 4 Results
The accompanying chart presents the results of my picks for Week 4, and the season totals to-date:
Week Wins Straight Up Wins vs Spread Rams Straight Up Last Week 10 5 10 5 0 1 Season 42 21 36 27 2 2
It was a successful week picking both straight-up, and against the spread [10 wins in each category]. This season continues to be difficult to predict, as many 2012 playoff teams from the NFC are struggling. Notwithstanding the Seattle Seahawks, the other 5 playoff teams from 2012 have a combined 6-13 record. I have achieved outstanding results, picking against the spread, over the last 3 weeks [30-17]. Here's hoping that momentum can be maintained in Week 5.
How am I faring against the 93 experts Pickwatch is tracking? (link). As a result of my 10-5 record, ground was gained on the leaders. My 42 wins is tied for 13th in the standings, a gain of 9 places over the previous week. Picking the Rams to defeat San Francisco did not help the cause, as the vast majority of experts picked San Francisco to win. I now stand 5 wins behind the leader, former NFL quarterback Ron Jaworski. The chart below identifies the top 25:
|Rank||Expert||Affiliation||Week 1||Week 2||Week 3||Week 4||Wins||Losses||Win %|
|2||Matt Miller||Bleacher Report||14||12||10||10||46||18||72%|
|3||Ty Schalter||Bleacher Report||11||13||9||12||45||19||70%|
|9||Michael David Smith||PFT||12||12||10||9||43||21||67%|
|15||Andrea Hangst||Bleacher Report||10||11||12||9||42||22||66%|
|21||Erik Frenz||Bleacher Report||11||11||12||7||41||23||64%|
How did my weekly "Hot Picks Versus The Spread" fare? Indianapolis, Arizona, and New Orleans all covered the spread, giving my "hot picks" a perfect 3-0 record for the week. Overall, my "hot picks" record is 10-2 for the season.
Week 5 Picks
The accompanying chart presents the format [and 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||Jacksonville||StL 11 1/2||St. Louis||St. Louis||27 13|
|Cleveland||Buffalo||Cle 4||Cleveland||Cleveland||21 17|
|Chicago||New Orleans||Pick||New Orleans||New Orleans||24 17|
|Cincinnati||New England||Pick||New England||New England||21 16|
|Green Bay||Detroit||GB 7||Green Bay||Green Bay||27 20|
|Indianapolis||Seattle||Sea 1||Seattle||Seattle||24 16|
|Miami||Baltimore||Mia 3||Miami||Miami||21 17|
|NY Giants||Philadelphia||NY 1||Philadelphia||Philadelphia||23 20|
|Tennessee||Kansas City||KC 2 1/2||Kansas City||Kansas City||23 14|
|Arizona||Carolina||Car 1 1/2||Arizona||Arizona||21 17|
|Dallas||Denver||Den 7 1/2||Denver||Denver||28 20|
|San Francisco||Houston||SF 6 1/2||San Francisco||San Francisco||20 13|
|Oakland||San Diego||SD 4 1/2||San Diego||San Diego||24 17|
|Atlanta||NY Jets||Atl 9 1/2||Atlanta||Atlanta||27 17|
Hot Picks Versus The Spread
New England over Cincinnati - Tom Brady will likely get WR Danny Amendola back for this game. New England keeps finding ways to win. Containing the TE tandem of Tyler Eifert and Jermaine Gresham, will be key to the Patriots maintaining their perfect record.
Kansas City over Tennessee - Kansas City keeps their perfect record intact. Tennessee will miss QB Jake Locker, who was having a fine season until his injury last week.
New Orleans over Chicago - Drew Brees and the Saints are playing like Super Bowl contenders. New Orleans completes the trifecta, of "hot picks" teams remaining undefeated through 5 weeks of the regular season.
Keys For The Rams vs. Jacksonville
- Defensively, the Jaguars have a hard time stopping teams from crossing the goal line. They have allowed the third-most points-per-game in the league, while boasting the worst run defense in football. Who will the Rams be starting at running back? The Rams should be able to exploit the defense, and kick-start their running game, against the Jaguars.
- Conversely, the Rams have the worst rushing offense in the league, and the third-worst run defense in the league. Establishing the running game, and containing Maurice Jones-Drew, will be keys for the Rams.
- The Rams were ineffective in the first half in each of their last three games. They were plagued by poor field position, mistakes, and penalties, at inopportune times. The offensive play-calling remains conservative. It's imperative that the Rams get off to a better start in the game against Jacksonville. The Rams will also need to improve their punt return game, avoid costly penalties, and eliminate the mistakes prevalent in the last three games.
- The return of LB Jo-Lonn Dunbar should bolster the Rams' run defense, and provide a much-needed spark to the entire defense.
- The Rams' offensive and defensive lines have been disappointing over the last three games. Improvement is needed from both lines, with Chris and Jake Long leading the way. The battles in the trenches are what ultimately win football games.
Prediction: Rams 27 - Jacksonville 13
Perspective On The Rams Versus Jacksonville
ESPN's Mike Sando presents his "inside edge" for Sunday's game (link).
Jamal Collier [Bleacher Report] breaks down St. Louis' game plan against the Jags (link).
Game prediction from Ramblin' Fan:
Jacksonville Jaguars @ St Louis Rams. The Rams opened the week as 12 point favorites, and considering how poor the Rams have looked over the last two weeks, that speaks pretty loudly about the Jaguars. The Jaguars will be welcoming back Justin Blackmon in this game, so they will have a little more firepower for the Rams to contend with. However, they also just traded away their best offensive lineman, which could make life even more difficult than usual for Blaine Gabbert. Can the Rams finally get something that resembles a running game going? Can Tavon Austin finally get some touches in space to utilize his incredible athleticism? If either of those two things happen regularly on Sunday the Rams will be in great shape. Rams win 31 – 16.
ESPN analysts Michael DiRocco and Nick Wagoner give their predictions for Sunday's game (link):
Michael DiRocco: This is the Jaguars' best chance to pick up a victory before the bye week, and as weird as it sounds, the team has actually played better away from home. The matchup seems to be pretty favorable. The Rams don't run the ball well and their passing offense is predicated on short stuff, which should help a Jaguars defense that is reeling. The Rams' defense has allowed the third-most points in the NFL, so this is a chance for the Jaguars' offense to finally get rolling. Still gonna be tough.
Rams 17, Jaguars 14
Nick Wagoner: If the Rams were playing nearly anybody else this week, it would be extremely difficult to pick them to get a win. But the Jaguars come in reeling and on pace for all-time levels of failure. With a few extra days to prepare, the Rams find a way to get a win, even if it doesn't erase the memories of the past two weeks.
Rams 23, Jaguars 16