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Dubs' Pigskin Picks & St. Louis Rams Preview - Week 6

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The Rams are coming off a tough loss to the Philadelphia Eagles. They're back at home for MNF, and a visit from arch-rival San Francisco. Can the Rams come out of the "Octet of Pain" stretch with some victories? Can Dubs catch the leaders in the weekly picks contest? Stay tuned!

Week 5 of the NFL season is now in the history books. The Rams are coming off a disappointing loss in Philadelphia, where mistakes, penalties, and turnovers ultimately decided the outcome. The going gets even tougher in Week 6, with the Rams hosting their bitter divisional rival, the San Francisco 49'ers. The game will be a tough match up for the Rams, but one that's eminently winnable, especially if they can play a disciplined, mistake-free game. It's also time for Dubs to make a move on the leaders, in the weekly Pigskin Picks contest!

Week 5 Results

Week Wins Straight Up Wins vs Spread Hot Picks vs. Spread Rams Straight Up
Last Week 12  3 9  6 3  0 1  0
Season 51  25 45  31 10  5 1  3
Percentage 67.1 59.2 66.7 25

Pickwatch is a site devoted to tracking weekly picks results from NFL experts, analysts, media types, and pundits (link). This year, they're tracking 129 experts on a weekly basis. I'm competing against them again this year, and will publish the weekly results! How did I fare against the experts in Week 5? My 12-3 record allowed me to remain in a tie for 6'th place in the overall standings, 3 behind the leader (Nate Silver - ESPN). There's plenty of time left in the season to catch the experts at the front of the pack. In 2013, it took me until Week 15 to catch - and surpass - the leaders. TST's own Ryan Van Bibber stands in a tie for 96'th overall, with a record of 44-32 on the season.

How did I make out with my "Hot Picks Against The Spread" last week? San Diego, Seattle, and Pittsburgh all won easily and covered the spread. Record for the week: 3-0.

2014 NFL Team Records

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

NFL Crystal Ball

Dubs' Pigskin Picks - Week 6

Home Away Spread Straight Up Vs. Spread Score
Houston Indianapolis Ind 2 1/2 Indianapolis Indianapolis 27  21
Tampa Bay Baltimore Bal 3 Baltimore Baltimore 24  17
Cincinnati Carolina Cin 7 1/2 Cincinnati Carolina 20  17
NY Jets Denver Den 10 Denver Denver 31  20
Minnesota Detroit Det 3 Detroit Detroit 24  20
Miami Green Bay GB 3 Green Bay Green Bay 27  21
Tennessee Jacksonville Ten 6 Tennessee Tennessee 21  14
Buffalo New England NE 3 New England New England 24  20
Cleveland Pittsburgh Cle 1 Pittsburgh Pittsburgh 23  17
Oakland San Diego SD 8 San Diego San Diego 30  17
Atlanta Chicago Atl 3 Atlanta Atlanta 30  24
Seattle Dallas Sea 9 1/2 Seattle Seattle 30  20
Arizona Washington Ari 4 Arizona Arizona 28  20
Philadelphia NY Giants Phi 2 1/2 Philadelphia Philadelphia 30  20
St. Louis San Francisco SF 3 San Francisco San Francisco 21  17
Byes Kansas City New Orleans

Hot Picks Against The Spread

San Diego over Oakland - The Chargers are a perfect 5-0 against the spread this season. In contrast, the Raiders are 0-4 against the spread in 2014.

Arizona over Washington - Given their records and recent play, the Cardinals should be 7 point - not 4 point - favorites in this game.

Seattle over Dallas - The Seahawks are perennially one of the best teams against the spread at home. They sport a 2-0 record against the spread at home this season.

San Francisco 49ers @ St. Louis Rams

Keys for the Rams vs. 49'ers
  • The Rams must get off to a fast start in Sunday's game. In each of their seven victories last season, the Rams were either tied or leading at the half. The Rams were leading at the half - 10-7 - in their only win this season (against Tampa Bay).
  • Winning the turnover battle. In six of their seven wins last year, the Rams had a positive turnover differential, and a zero differential in the other victory. The correlation is holding true again this season. The Rams had a negative turnover differential in two of their losses, and an even turnover differential in the win against Tampa Bay. Against Philadelphia, three key turnovers - and a blocked punt - cost the Rams a minimum of 24 points on the scoreboard.
  • The Rams must establish the running game, and give the ball to Zac Stacy more consistently. The 49'ers will be difficult to run against, as they are allowing only 77.2 rushing yards per game through 5 contests. It's time for the Rams to unleash the rushing game beast: Greg Robinson.
  • With CB Trumaine Johnson still out, it falls on Janoris Jenkins to shut down the 49'ers leading receiver Anquan Boldin.
  • Minimizing mistakes and penalties. The Rams have the youngest - and most inexperienced - team in the league (for the third consecutive year). The Rams were flagged for 10 penalties in the game against Philadelphia. Particularly telling was the difference in penalty yards between Philadelphia and St. Louis. Philadelphia committed 4 penalties for 39 yards. The Rams totalled 82 penalty yards on their 10 infractions, resulting in a negative Team Penalty Yards Differential of 43 yards.
  • Containing RB Frank Gore. The Rams were much improved against the run in 2013, finishing 9'th in the league. In four games this season, the Rams have given up an average of 152.5 rushing yards per game (29'th in the NFL).
  • Pressuring QB Colin Kaepernick. The Rams have a pass rush that could give the Niner's offensive line fits. The Rams are noted for their defensive line depth. William Hayes will again replace the injured Chris Long, who is missed for both his strong weekly performances and his leadership. Many have underestimated his impact on the Rams' defensive line.
  • QB Austin Davis will need to continue his surprisingly stellar play as a starter. Jeff Fisher must have confidence in him, as Davis was named the starter (over Shaun Hill) for the remainder of the season.
Prediction: San Francisco 21 - Rams 17

This game - like many between these two teams - will feature a smash-mouth war in the trenches. The Rams always play the 49'ers tough, and this game will be no exception. If the Rams can establish their running game - and contain Frank Gore - they will keep this game close...and could come away with a hard-fought win at the EJD. The Rams won't get much love until they figure out how to hold their opponents to under 34 points a game.

Perspective On The Rams Versus The 49'ers

NFL.com: San Francisco 24 - St. Louis 23

"San Francisco survives in St. Louis. That’s it. Colin Kaepernick should find some favorable matchups downfield, especially if Vernon Davis plays; the Rams’ safeties have really struggled this season, and frankly, the pass rush hasn’t been there to pick up the slack. Chris Long’s absence from St. Louis’ defensive line has been totally underrated, in terms of how it has affected this team’s season. Without Long to contend with, opposing offenses can simply shift protection to Robert Quinn’s side. On top of all that, dealing with Niners offensive lineman Joe Staley will be no day at the beach, er, Arch."

"Still, I don’t think San Francisco will be able to shut down the Austin Davis-to- Brian Quick connection. It feels like this will be an old-school NFC West slugfest … or finesse game. Either way, it should be close."

CBS Sports: San Francisco 20 - St. Louis 13

"The 49ers are back on track with their running game. The Rams have had big problems stopping the run, ranking 29th in the league. Frank Gore will have success running it. I can’t see the Rams offense with Austin Davis being able to move it much on the 49ers."

Ramblin' Fan: St. Louis 27 - San Francisco 17

"No team in the NFL confuses me more than the 49ers. San Fran ranks in the top 10 in points per game and offense, but only 20th in scoring. The team lacks an identity and the front office is a complete mess right now. The Rams defense was supposed to be the team’s saving grace this season, but instead it has become their albatross. The team has one sack through four games and the safety play has been downright painful to watch. Luckily, Austin Davis and the Rams offense is keeping them alive in games. The last two games the Rams lost were by a combined nine points against teams with an accumulative 8-2 record. Austin Davis has been slinging the ball as well as anyone and I think the young gun will shine under the bright lights of Monday night football and put up the Rams second win of the season."

Pro Football Talk: MD: San Francisco 34 - Rams 20, Mike Florio: San Francisco 24 - Rams 15

"MDS’s take: The Rams are getting far better play from quarterback Austin Davis than anyone could have expected. Unfortunately, they’re also getting far worse play from their defense than anyone could have expected. The 49ers’ offense should put up big numbers."

"Florio’s take:  Yes, the Rams have played the 49ers tough in the past.  Yes, the Rams showed fight in a stirring comeback attempt at Philly.  No, that doesn’t persuade me that the Rams will be able to hold off a 49ers team that has been using the various reports about the future of Jim Harbaugh as a source of motivation and focus."

Fisher Up Front: Rams vs. 49'ers. Team Insider Myles Simmons sat down with Head Coach Jeff Fisher to discuss the Monday Night matchup versus the 49ers.