Week 15 is now in the history books. The Rams are coming off a resounding thumping of the New Orleans Saints last weekend. This weekend they host a Tampa Bay team that - after beginning the season 0-8 - has come on to win 4 of their last 6 games. This game will be a tough match up for the Rams, but a game that's eminently winnable. The remaining 2 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.
Week 15 Results
The accompanying chart presents the results of my picks for Week 15, and the season totals to-date:
|Week||Wins Straight Up||Wins vs Spread||Hot Picks vs. Spread||Rams Straight Up|
|Last Week||8 8||8 8||2 1||0 1|
|Season||154 70||139 85||34 11||8 6|
How are my results faring against the 93 experts Pickwatch is tracking? (link). My .500 record last week was enough to remain in 1st place overall in the standings, 2 wins ahead of John Halpin from Fox Sports. Last week was a terrible one for picking winners, as 5 divisional leaders lost. A week of upsets, proof positive of the football adage "on any given Sunday".
The chart below identifies the top 25 in the overall standings:
|5||Pete O'Brien||USA Today||12||11||10||9||8||10||10||11||7||8||10||8||13||13||9||149||74||66.82%|
|9||Nate Davis||USA Today||11||14||8||8||9||11||9||11||8||9||10||8||11||11||9||147||76||65.92%|
|13||Don Banks||Sports Illustrated||11||14||10||9||8||10||9||12||7||6||11||6||11||14||8||146||77||65.47%|
|14||Simon Samano||USA Today||10||12||10||10||10||9||9||12||6||7||9||10||12||12||8||146||77||65.47%|
|17||Michael David Smith||PFT||12||12||10||9||8||11||8||10||8||6||12||5||13||12||9||145||78||65.02%|
|19||Andrea Hangst||Bleacher Report||10||11||12||9||9||9||11||11||9||9||9||5||11||13||7||145||78||65.02%|
|20||Brad Gagnon||Bleacher Report||12||11||11||5||8||10||11||10||6||10||9||8||12||11||10||144||79||64.57%|
How did my "Hot Picks Versus The Spread" fare last week? Both Kansas City and San Francisco won and covered the spread. Philadelphia lost and didn't cover the spread. My record for the week: 2-1. Overall, my "hot picks" record is 34-11 for the season.
Week 16 Picks
For reference, the accompanying chart presents the straight-up, against the spread, and over/under records for all 32 NFL teams, after Week 15:
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|
|Buffalo||Miami||Mia 2 1/2||Miami||Miami||23 20|
|Carolina||New Orleans||Car 3||Carolina||Carolina||24 20|
|Cincinnati||Minnesota||Cin 7||Cincinnati||Cincinnati||27 17|
|Houston||Denver||Den 10 1/2||Denver||Denver||31 17|
|Jacksonville||Tennessee||Ten 5 1/2||Tennessee||Tennessee||23 17|
|Kansas City||Indianapolis||KC 6 1/2||Kansas City||Kansas City||27 20|
|NY Jets||Cleveland||NY 2 1/2||NY Jets||NY Jets||23 20|
|St. Louis||Tampa Bay||StL 4||St. Louis||St. Louis||23 17|
|Washington||Dallas||Dal 2 1/2||Dallas||Dallas||23 20|
|Detroit||NY Giants||Det 9||Detroit||Detroit||31 20|
|Seattle||Arizona||Sea 10 1/2||Seattle||Arizona||23 17|
|Green Bay||Pittsburgh||Pick||Green Bay||Green Bay||21 17|
|San Diego||Oakland||SD 10||San Diego||Oakland||28 20|
|Baltimore||New England||Bal 2 1/2||Baltimore||Baltimore||24 20|
|Philadelphia||Chicago||Phi 3||Philadelphia||Philadelphia||24 20|
|San Francisco||Atlanta||SF 13||San Francisco||San Francisco||28 14|
Hot Picks Versus The Spread
Denver over Houston - Denver is in a battle for home field advantage throughout the playoffs. Houston has now lost 12 straight games.
Cincinnati over Minnesota - Cincinnati needs a victory to stay one step ahead of the Baltimore Ravens, in a close battle for the NFC North divisional crown.
Miami over Buffalo - Miami is fighting for a wild card spot. They are coming off a big win against the New England Patriots, and have won three straight games.
Keys For The Rams Versus Tampa Bay
Prediction: Rams 23 - Tampa Bay 17
Perspective On The Rams Versus Tampa Bay
Advanced NFL Stats takes an in-depth, statistical look at the match up between the Rams and Tampa Bay (link).
CBS Sports' Pat Kirwan and Pete Prisco preview the game between the Rams and the Buccaneer's (link).
ESPN's Mike Sando presents his "Inside Edge" on the Rams-Tampa Bay match up (link).
Bleacher Report breaks down St. Louis' game plan for Sunday's game against Tampa Bay (link).
Ramblin' Fans' prediction for Sunday's game:
Prediction: Rams 24 Buccaneers 13
"The Rams play well at home and the Buccaneers have not played well on the road. The Rams have been inconsistent this season, but I think Robert Quinn and the Rams defense gives Mike Glennon and the Bucs offense trouble and help get the Rams a win."
Pro Football Focus presents its 3 keys to focus on for Sunday's game (link).
ESPN's Nick Wagoner and Pat Yasinskas share their analysis of the Rams game vs. Tampa Bay (link).
Pat Yasinskas: Over the last six weeks, the Bucs have played well against mediocre teams while struggling against Carolina and San Francisco. I'm thinking that trend will continue and the Bucs will win this game.
Bucs 20, Rams 14
Nick Wagoner: The Rams have made a habit of being hard to peg from week to week and a letdown after a big win last week is certainly possible. However, I just don't see the Bucs being able to move the ball consistently enough to pull off a win against a Rams defense that seems to be coalescing.
Rams 24, Bucs 13