Dubs' Pigskin Picks & Rams Preview - Week 15

Ralph Freso

The Rams have been officially eliminated from the playoffs. This weekend, they host the New Orleans Saints; a team fighting for home field advantage throughout the playoffs. The Rams should use their three remaining games to give reps to - and evaluate - players such as Stedman Bailey, Ray Ray Armstrong, and Cody Davis. Giving this young team game experience now will help it to grow into playoff contenders in 2014.

Week 14 of the NFL season is in the history books. The St. Louis Rams have been officially eliminated from playoff contention. The remaining three games on the Rams' schedule are important for this young team. Every play and minute on the football field gives these young players invaluable experience. Finishing the season on a high note will serve as a springboard to better results in 2014.

Weekly Results

The accompanying charts present the results of my picks from Week 11 through Week 14, and the season totals to-date.

Week 11

Week Wins Straight Up Wins vs Spread Hot Picks vs. Spread Rams Straight Up
Last Week 11 4 10 5 2 1 0 0
Season 109 53 101 61 25 8 5 5
Percentage 67.3 62.3 75.8 50

Week 12

Week Wins Straight Up Wins vs Spread Hot Picks vs. Spread Rams Straight Up
Last Week 10 4 10 4 2 1 1 0
Season 119 57 111 65 27 9 6 5
Percentage 67.6 63.1 75 54.5

Week 13

Week Wins Straight Up Wins vs Spread Hot Picks vs. Spread Rams Straight Up
Last Week 14 2 10 6 3 0 1 0
Season 133 59 121 71 30 9 7 5
Percentage 69.3 63.1 76.9 58.3

Week 14

Week Wins Straight Up Wins vs Spread Hot Picks vs. Spread Rams Straight Up
Last Week 13 3 10 6 2 1 1 0
Season 146 62 131 77 32 10 8 5
Percentage 70.2 63.1 76.2 61.5

How are my results faring against the 93 experts Pickwatch is tracking? (link). My 146 wins has placed me on top of the standings, three wins in front of the 2nd place prognosticators. Week 12 held the key to my rise in the standings. Most of the experts in the top 20 faltered that week, barely achieving .500 records with their picks. It appeared that many of the experts changed their selection philosophies that week - and in the ensuing weeks - to their detriment. The methodology I use to determine weekly picks has not changed in 25 years. The goal every year is to pick winners at a 70% success rate, and to finish with 180 wins.

The chart below identifies the top 25 in the overall standings:

Rank Expert Affiliation Wk1 Wk2 Wk3 Wk4 Wk5 Wk6 Wk7 Wk8 Wk9 Wk10 Wk11 Wk12 Wk13 Wk14 Wins Losses Win %
1 Prediction Machine CBS 11 13 11 9 7 12 11 11 9 6 12 5 12 14 143 64 69.08%
2 John Halpin FOX 9 11 11 10 7 12 10 11 9 8 12 10 11 12 143 64 69.08%
3 Gregg Rosenthal NFL 11 13 8 11 7 14 9 10 9 8 9 10 12 11 142 65 68.60%
4 Chris Brockman NFL 10 14 11 9 8 10 11 9 8 9 10 8 12 12 141 66 68.12%
5 Pete O'Brien USA Today 12 11 10 9 8 10 10 11 7 8 10 8 13 13 140 67 67.63%
6 Accuscore Accuscore 11 11 7 9 9 10 10 11 10 9 12 6 12 13 140 67 67.63%
7 Ron Jaworski ESPN 11 12 12 12 11 9 9 11 7 9 9 6 12 10 140 67 67.63%
8 K.C. Joyner ESPN 12 12 9 7 9 11 9 10 8 7 12 6 12 15 139 68 67.15%
9 Steve Mariucci NFL 12 13 8 8 8 11 10 10 8 9 11 7 10 14 139 68 67.15%
10 Don Banks Sports Illustrated 11 14 10 9 8 10 9 12 7 6 11 6 11 14 138 69 66.67%
11 Andrea Hangst Bleacher Report 10 11 12 9 9 9 11 11 9 9 9 5 11 13 138 69 66.67%
12 Simon Samano USA Today 10 12 10 10 10 9 9 12 6 7 9 10 12 12 138 69 66.67%
13 Nate Davis USA Today 11 14 8 8 9 11 9 11 8 9 10 8 11 11 138 69 66.67%
14 Nathan Jahnke ProFootballFocus 11 13 10 8 7 10 10 11 9 5 11 6 12 14 137 70 66.18%
15 Sam Monson ProFootballFocus 8 14 9 11 7 10 9 11 7 7 12 7 10 14 136 71 65.70%
16 Chris Wesseling NFL 10 9 11 8 8 11 11 11 7 6 11 8 12 13 136 71 65.70%
17 Chris Law NFL 13 11 7 11 8 11 8 11 8 10 8 5 12 13 136 71 65.70%
18 Michael David Smith PFT 12 12 10 9 8 11 8 10 8 6 12 5 13 12 136 71 65.70%
19 Matt Smith** NFL 10 12 7 9 10 11 11 11 8 9 0 7 2 10 117 62 65.36%
20 Rick Drummond ProFootballFocus 8 12 10 10 9 11 9 12 7 8 10 7 10 12 135 72 65.22%
21 Khaled Elsayed ProFootballFocus 11 11 9 9 8 12 10 10 9 8 11 5 11 11 135 72 65.22%
22 Black Tie NFL 13 11 6 11 10 9 11 10 8 9 9 7 11 10 135 72 65.22%
23 Tyson Langland Bleacher Report 10 13 9 8 7 10 8 12 7 8 9 7 13 13 134 73 64.73%
24 Dave Damashek NFL 9 11 7 9 9 11 10 10 10 10 7 7 11 13 134 73 64.73%
25 Seth Wickersham ESPN 9 11 8 10 9 11 10 10 7 7 9 7 14 12 134 73 64.73%

How did my weekly "Hot Picks Versus The Spread" fare? Kansas City and Denver won and covered the spread. Seattle lost to San Francisco and did not cover the spread. My "hot picks" record for the week: 2-1. Overall, my "hot picks" record for the season is 32-10.

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Week 15 Picks

For reference, the accompanying chart presents the straight-up, against the spread, and over/under records for all 32 NFL teams, after Week 14:

NFL RANKINGS
Straight-Up Against The Spread Over/Under
Team Total Home Away Total Home Away Total Home Away
Arizona Cardinals 8-5-0 6-1-0 2-4-0 9-4-0 5-2-0 4-2-0 6-7-0 3-4-0 3-3-0
Atlanta Falcons 3-10-0 2-4-0 1-6-0 5-8-0 3-3-0 2-5-0 7-6-0 4-2-0 3-4-0
Baltimore Ravens 7-6-0 6-1-0 1-5-0 6-6-1 5-2-0 1-4-1 5-7-1 2-5-0 3-2-1
Buffalo Bills 4-9-0 3-4-0 1-5-0 6-7-0 5-2-0 1-5-0 7-5-1 4-3-0 3-2-1
Carolina Panthers 9-4-0 5-1-0 4-3-0 8-5-0 5-1-0 3-4-0 3-9-1 1-5-0 2-4-1
Chicago Bears 7-6-0 5-2-0 2-4-0 3-8-2 1-4-2 2-4-0 9-4-0 5-2-0 4-2-0
Cincinnati Bengals 9-4-0 6-0-0 3-4-0 8-4-1 6-0-0 2-4-1 7-6-0 4-2-0 3-4-0
Cleveland Browns 4-9-0 3-4-0 1-5-0 6-7-0 3-4-0 3-3-0 7-5-1 3-3-1 4-2-0
Dallas Cowboys 7-6-0 5-1-0 2-5-0 8-5-0 4-2-0 4-3-0 8-5-0 3-3-0 5-2-0
Denver Broncos 11-2-0 7-0-0 4-2-0 8-5-0 5-2-0 3-3-0 11-2-0 6-1-0 5-1-0
Detroit Lions 7-6-0 4-2-0 3-4-0 6-7-0 3-3-0 3-4-0 8-5-0 5-1-0 3-4-0
Green Bay Packers 6-6-1 4-2-1 2-4-0 4-9-0 3-4-0 1-5-0 6-7-0 2-5-0 4-2-0
Houston Texans 2-11-0 1-6-0 1-5-0 3-10-0 1-6-0 2-4-0 9-4-0 6-1-0 3-3-0
Indianapolis Colts 8-5-0 4-2-0 4-3-0 6-6-1 3-3-0 3-3-1 8-5-0 4-2-0 4-3-0
Jacksonville Jaguars 4-9-0 1-5-0 3-4-0 5-8-0 1-5-0 4-3-0 8-5-0 3-3-0 5-2-0
Kansas City Chiefs 10-3-0 5-2-0 5-1-0 7-6-0 2-5-0 5-1-0 5-8-0 3-4-0 2-4-0
Miami Dolphins 7-6-0 3-3-0 4-3-0 8-5-0 4-2-0 4-3-0 6-6-1 2-3-1 4-3-0
Minnesota Vikings 3-9-1 3-3-0 0-6-1 7-6-0 3-3-0 4-3-0 9-3-1 4-1-1 5-2-0
New England Patriots 10-3-0 7-0-0 3-3-0 6-7-0 5-2-0 1-5-0 7-6-0 4-3-0 3-3-0
New Orleans Saints 10-3-0 7-0-0 3-3-0 7-5-1 6-0-1 1-5-0 4-9-0 3-4-0 1-5-0
New York Giants 5-8-0 3-3-0 2-5-0 5-8-0 2-4-0 3-4-0 7-6-0 4-2-0 3-4-0
New York Jets 6-7-0 5-2-0 1-5-0 7-6-0 5-2-0 2-4-0 7-6-0 3-4-0 4-2-0
Oakland Raiders 4-9-0 3-3-0 1-6-0 8-5-0 3-3-0 5-2-0 6-6-1 1-4-1 5-2-0
Philadelphia Eagles 8-5-0 3-4-0 5-1-0 7-6-0 2-5-0 5-1-0 7-6-0 2-5-0 5-1-0
Pittsburgh Steelers 5-8-0 3-3-0 2-5-0 6-7-0 3-3-0 3-4-0 6-7-0 3-3-0 3-4-0
San Diego Chargers 6-7-0 3-3-0 3-4-0 7-5-1 4-2-0 3-3-1 6-7-0 3-3-0 3-4-0
San Francisco 49ers 9-4-0 5-2-0 4-2-0 8-4-1 4-3-0 4-1-1 5-8-0 2-5-0 3-3-0
Seattle Seahawks 11-2-0 6-0-0 5-2-0 9-4-0 4-2-0 5-2-0 6-7-0 3-3-0 3-4-0
St. Louis Rams 5-8-0 3-3-0 2-5-0 5-8-0 3-3-0 2-5-0 9-4-0 5-1-0 4-3-0
Tampa Bay Buccaneers 4-9-0 3-4-0 1-5-0 6-7-0 4-3-0 2-4-0 6-7-0 4-3-0 2-4-0
Tennessee Titans 5-8-0 2-4-0 3-4-0 6-5-2 1-3-2 5-2-0 8-4-1 5-1-0 3-3-1
Washington Redskins 3-10-0 2-5-0 1-5-0 3-10-0 2-5-0 1-5-0 7-6-0 4-3-0 3-3-0

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
Denver San Diego Den 10 Denver Denver 31 20
Atlanta Washington Atl 6 Atlanta Atlanta 27 20
Cleveland Chicago Cle 1 Chicago Chicago 23 17
Indianapolis Houston Ind 5 1/2 Indianapolis Indianapolis 27 21
Jacksonville Buffalo Jac 1 Jacksonville Jacksonville 21 17
Miami New England NE 2 New England New England 24 21
Minnesota Philadelphia Phi 5 Philadelphia Philadelphia 28 21
NY Giants Seattle Sea 7 Seattle Seattle 30 17
Tampa Bay San Francisco SF 5 San Francisco San Francisco 24 14
Carolina NY Jets Car 11 Carolina Carolina 31 17
Oakland Kansas City KC 4 1/2 Kansas City Kansas City 27 14
St. Louis New Orleans NO 6 New Orleans New Orleans 27 20
Tennessee Arizona Ari 3 Arizona Arizona 21 17
Dallas Green Bay Dal 7 Dallas Dallas 27 19
Pittsburgh Cincinnati Cin 3 Cincinnati Cincinnati 24 17
Detroit Baltimore Det 6 Detroit Baltimore 27 24

Hot Picks Versus The Spread

Kansas City over Oakland - Kansas City is back on track, and in the hunt for the AFC West divisional crown. They also have a chance to gain home field throughout the playoffs.

San Francisco over Tampa Bay - The 49ers are coming off a big win against the Seattle Seahawks, and have won three straight games. They will be looking to solidify their playoff position.

Philadelphia over Minnesota - The Eagles have won five straight games, and are in a tight race with Dallas in the NFC East. The Eagles will likely need to win the division to make the playoffs.

Wpid-st-louis-rams-vs-new-orleans-saints_medium

Keys For The Rams vs. New Orleans

  1. Winning the turnover battle is key to the Rams staying close in this game.
  2. Containing TE Jimmy Graham. Will the Rams use Alec Ogletree - or a cornerback - to minimize his impact on the game?
  3. The Rams must establish the run with Zac Stacy. The Saints rank 16th in the NFL against the run.
  4. Containing and pressuring Drew Brees will be vital in slowing down the Saints' offense, which ranks 7th in the league in points scored-per-game.
  5. Minimizing penalties will allow the Rams better field position and momentum on drives.
  6. The Rams must get off to a fast start to have a chance of defeating the Saints. In each of their 5 victories this year, the Rams have been either tied or leading at the half.

Prediction: New Orleans 27 - Rams 20

20130510_gav_af5_348

Perspective On The Rams Versus New Orleans

Pro Football Focus presents its 3 keys to watch for in Sunday's game (link).

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

Prediction and analysis from Ramblin' Fan:

"New Orleans Saints @ St. Louis Rams. The Saints haven’t been quite as good on the road this season, with all three of their losses being away from the Superdome including one to the New York Jets. Still the Saints can really get after the quarterback and Kellen Clemens isn’t likely to be able to keep up with Drew Brees and their high-flying offense. If the Rams are going to hang around in this game and spring the upset they need to be able to run the ball and play much better on defense than the past 2 weeks. The Saints do give up 4.7 yards per carry on the ground, so perhaps Zac Stacy and Benny Cunningham can get going early in the Edward Jones Dome. Saints win 27 – 24."

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

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

ESPN's Mike Triplett and Nick Wagoner provide analysis and predictions for Sunday's game (link).

MATCHUP ANALYSIS
Mike Triplett: The Saints are pretty fired up about proving they can take their show on the road -- and they're even more fired up about making sure they lock down the No. 2 seed in the NFC. They won't come out flat in St. Louis this time.
Saints 30, Rams 16
Nick Wagoner: While I expect the Rams to perform better than they did last week, this is just not a good matchup for them. An offense with as many weapons as the Saints possess is capable of doing some major damage. I don't see the Rams' shoddy secondary and approach on the back end being able to keep this one close.
Saints 34, Rams 13
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