Week 10 of the NFL season is in the history books. Although the St. Louis Rams have missed QB Sam Bradford on the field, they continue to play inspired football. The Rams are now 4-6, after their convincing victory over Indianapolis this past weekend. Jeff Fisher has this team playing like a playoff contender. Winning their remaining 6 games would appear to be a prerequisite for making the playoffs. The odds of this occurring are not high; however, if the Rams continue to play like they did against the Colts, anything is possible.
Week 10 Results
The accompanying chart presents the results of my picks for Week 10, and the season totals to-date:
|Week||Wins Straight Up||Wins vs Spread||Hot Picks vs. Spread||Rams Straight Up|
|Last Week||8 6||9 5||2 1||0 1|
|Season||98 49||91 56||23 7||5 5|
As I predicted in last weeks column, Week 10 proved to be the most challenging of the year for picking winners. There were many close match ups and spreads, with significant injuries [Sam Bradford, Jake Locker, Aaron Rodgers] adding to the difficulty. In addition, the last remaining teams without a victory [Jacksonville and Tampa Bay] pulled off upsets on the weekend. 8-6 picking straight-up turned out to be a fine result, given the circumstances. 9-5 versus the spread was an outstanding result, given the parity inherent in last weeks games. Week 11 promises to be more difficult than Week 10. 13 of the 15 games have point spreads that are less than a touchdown. Achieving 10 wins - straight-up or against the spread - will be a remarkable achievement this week.
How am I faring against the 93 experts Pickwatch is tracking? (link). My 8-6 record was enough to keep pace with most of the leaders. Former NFL quarterback Ron Jaworski remains in the lead, with 103 wins. My 98 wins is tied for 6th in the overall standings, 5 behind the leader. The chart below identifies the top 25 in the overall standings:
|Rank||Expert||Affiliation||Week 1||Week 2||Week 3||Week 4||Week 5||Week 6||Week 7||Week 8||Week 9||Week 10||Wins||Losses||Win %|
|4||Andrea Hangst||Bleacher Report||10||11||12||9||9||9||10||11||9||9||99||48||67%|
|7||Nate Davis||USA Today||11||14||8||8||9||11||9||11||8||9||98||49||67%|
|17||Pete O'Brien||USA Today||12||11||10||9||8||10||10||11||7||8||96||51||65%|
|19||Matt Bowen||Bleacher Report||11||13||9||7||8||12||11||10||8||7||96||51||65%|
|24||Don Banks||Sports Illustrated||11||14||10||9||8||10||9||12||7||6||96||51||65%|
How did my weekly "Hot Picks Versus The Spread" fare? Seattle and New Orleans won and covered the spread. Jacksonville upended Tennessee for its first win of the season [I picked Tennessee]. My "hot picks" record for the week: 2-1. Overall, my 'hot picks" record for the season is 23-7.
Week 11 Picks
For reference, the accompanying chart presents the straight-up, against the spread, and over/under records for all 32 NFL teams, after Week 10:
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|
|Tennessee||Indianapolis||Indy 3||Indianapolis||Indianapolis||23 20|
|Buffalo||NY Jets||Pick||NY Jets||NY Jets||23 17|
|Chicago||Baltimore||Chi 2 1/2||Chicago||Chicago||21 16|
|Cincinnati||Cleveland||Cin 5 1/2||Cincinnati||Cincinnati||23 17|
|Houston||Oakland||Hou 6 1/2||Houston||Oakland||21 17|
|Jacksonville||Arizona||Ari 6 1/2||Arizona||Arizona||21 14|
|Philadelphia||Washington||Phi 3 1/2||Philadelphia||Philadelphia||27 23|
|Pittsburgh||Detroit||Det 1||Detroit||Detroit||23 17|
|Tampa Bay||Atlanta||Atl 1||Tampa Bay||Tampa Bay||20 14|
|Miami||San Diego||Mia 1 1/2||San Diego||San Diego||23 20|
|New Orleans||San Francisco||NO 3||New Orleans||New Orleans||23 19|
|Seattle||Minnesota||Sea 13 1/2||Seattle||Seattle||30 14|
|NY Giants||Green Bay||NY 6||NY Giants||Green Bay||20 17|
|Denver||Kansas City||Den 7 1/2||Denver||Kansas City||28 24|
|Carolina||New England||Car 1||Carolina||Carolina||24 21|
Hot Picks Versus The Spread
Seattle over Minnesota - Seattle keeps rolling along, and is 12-0 in its last dozen home games. The injury to Christian Ponder does not help the Vikings cause. The Seahawks will be welcoming back Percy Harvin to the lineup.
Detroit over Pittsburgh - Detroit is playing sound football, coming off victories against Chicago and Dallas. Pittsburgh has been wildly inconsistent, with a 2-2 record at home.
Cincinnati over Cleveland - The Bengals are 4-0 against the spread at home this season. After starting 6-2, the Bengals lost their last two games - to Miami and Baltimore - by a combined 5 points.
Can The Rams Make The Playoffs?
The St. Louis Rams have a bye this week. Normally, I would be previewing the Rams' upcoming game in this space. Instead, let's briefly take a look at the Rams' remaining schedule:
Week Opponent Home/Away 12 Chicago Home 13 San Francisco Away 14 Arizona Away 15 New Orleans Home 16 Tampa Bay Home 17 Seattle Away
As Ryan Van Bibber pointed out in "Rams By The Numbers" (link), the Rams have a daunting task ahead of them over the remainder of their schedule:
"Opponents over the next six games have an average DVOA of 15.6 percent, making it the toughest remaining schedule of any team."
Given the tie-breakers, records, and circumstances in the NFC at present, the Rams would likely have to win all of their remaining games to be in consideration for a playoff spot. Although anything is possible - and I will not shut the door on the playoffs until the Rams are mathematically eliminated - the chances of the Rams making the playoffs are less than 10%. I'm not too worried about making the playoffs this year. I just want to see this young team perform to the best of their abilities, gain confidence and experience, and create enough momentum to be a force - and playoff contender - in 2014. The goal for the Rams should be continuing to show steady improvement.
Dubs' Pigskin Picks still has some prognosticating to do for the 6 remaining Rams games. The games against Chicago, Arizona, and Tampa Bay are all winnable. I will be picking the Rams to win all 3. Seattle, San Francisco, and New Orleans will all be formidable challenges for the Rams. I will be picking against the Rams in all 3 of those games. That would put the Rams at 7-9 for the season, although 8-8 is not out of the realm of possibility. Finishing the season on a high note [5-2 record] would create a lot of momentum heading into next season.
Can the Rams run the table and make the playoffs? Miracles do happen...
Final Minute of the "Miracle on Ice" (via Railfan2103)