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Dubs' Pigskin Picks & St. Louis Rams Preview - Week 8

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The Rams are coming off a big win against the Seattle Seahawks. This Sunday, the Rams travel cross-state on I-70 to face the Kansas City Chiefs for the Governor's Cup. Can the Rams come out of the "Octet of Pain" stretch with more victories? Can Dubs catch the leaders in the weekly picks contest? Stay tuned!

Week 7 of the NFL season is now in the history books. The Rams are coming off an inspiring 28-26 victory over the Seattle Seahawks. This Sunday, the Rams travel cross-state on I-70 to face the Kansas City Chiefs for the Governor's Cup. 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!

This season has produced many surprises, but none more unexpected than the rise and fall of teams in the NFC. Last year, the Saints, Seahawks, 49ers, and Panthers had a combined record of 48-16. This season, they're a combined 12-13-1. In contrast, the Lions, Cowboys, and Cardinals were a combined 25-23 in 2013. In 2014, they're sporting a combined 16-4 record. Such is the ebb and flow of the NFL from season-to-season.

Week 7 Results

Week Wins Straight Up Wins vs Spread Hot Picks vs. Spread Rams Straight Up
Last Week 11  4 9  6 1  2 0  1
Season 73  32  1 64  42 12  9 2  4
Percentage 69.5 61 57.1 33.3

Pickwatch is a site devoted to tracking weekly picks results from NFL experts, analysts, and media types (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 7? My 11-4 record allowed me to remain in a tie for 5'th place in the overall standings, only 1 win behind the 4 leaders. 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 113'th overall, with a record of 61-44 on the season.

How did I make out with my "Hot Picks Against The Spread" last week? Arizona won easily and covered the spread. New England won but didn't cover the spread. San Diego was upset by Kansas City and didn't cover the spread. Record for the week: 1-2.

2014 NFL Team Records

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

NFL Crystal Ball

Dubs' Pigskin Picks - Week 8

Home Away Spread Straight Up Vs. Spread Score
Denver San Diego Den 8 Denver Denver 31  21
Atlanta Detroit Det 3 1/2 Detroit Detroit 21  16
Cincinnati Baltimore Even Baltimore Baltimore 23  20
NY Jets Buffalo NY 2 1/2 Buffalo Buffalo 20  13
New England Chicago NE 7 New England New England 30  20
Tennessee Houston Hou 1 Houston Houston 21  17
Jacksonville Miami Mia 7 Miami Miami 27  17
Carolina Seattle Sea 5 Seattle Seattle 23  13
Kansas City St. Louis KC 7 1/2 Kansas City St. Louis 21  20
Arizona Philadelphia Ari 2 1/2 Arizona Arizona 23  20
Pittsburgh Indianapolis Ind 2 1/2 Indianapolis Indianapolis 24  20
Cleveland Oakland Cle 7 1/2 Cleveland Oakland 27  20
New Orleans Green Bay Even Green Bay Green Bay 31  30
Dallas Washington Dal 10 Dallas Dallas 31  20
Tampa Bay Minnesota TB 2 1/2 Minnesota Minnesota 20  17
Byes: NY Giants San Francisco

Hot Picks Against The Spread

Indianapolis over Pittsburgh - The Colts have the best record in the NFL against the spread, and are 3-0 on the road ATS.

New England over Chicago - The Patriots and Bears are heading in opposite directions. New England will win this game going away.

Seattle over Carolina - Both teams are struggling this season, after going a combined 25-8 last year. The defending Super Bowl champs will have something to prove this week.

St. Louis Rams @ Kansas City Chiefs

Keys For The Rams vs. Kansas City
  • 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 in both of their victories this season.
  • 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, a zero differential in the other two losses, and a zero turnover differential in their two wins. The win against Seattle was the Rams' first game this season without a giveaway.
  • The Rams must establish the running game, and sort out the carries in their running back-by-committee approach. Tre Mason should see the ball more often. Greg Robinson has performed admirably since becoming the starter at LG, and will lead the Rams' ground assault.
  • Minimizing mistakes and penalties. The Rams committed too many costly penalties in their first five games. In the game against Seattle, the Rams were much more disciplined, and were flagged for only two infractions totalling 20 yards.
  • Containing RB Jamaal Charles. The Rams were much improved against the run in 2013, finishing 9'th in the league. The Rams run defense comes into this game ranked 28'th in both yards (145.0) and yards-per-attempt (4.8). Charles leads a potent Chiefs rushing attack, one averaging 140.3 per game (3'rd in the NFL).
  • Pressuring QB Alex Smith. The Rams have a pass rush that could give the revamped Chiefs 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. After tallying one sack in their first five games, the Rams sacked QB Russell Wilson 3 times in the game against Seattle.
  • QB Austin Davis was quite efficient in the game against Seattle. More importantly, Davis held on to the ball, didn't throw an interception, and made outstanding plays at critical points in the game. The Rams need Davis to perform in the same manner against Kansas City.
Prediction: Kansas City 21 - Rams 20

These teams are evenly matched, and are similar in many respects. It's the type of game where a tie would be a reasonable outcome. I expect a relatively low-scoring game, one where field position, penalties, and turnovers play significant roles in the outcome. Controlling the line of scrimmage will be important in this match up. If this contest was at the EJD, I'd be picking the Rams to win.

Perspective On The Rams Versus The Chiefs

From STATS/New York Times:

  1. The Rams have lost each of their last two road games versus the Chiefs (dating back to October 22, 2000), being outscored by 59 points over the two games (103-44) and committing seven turnovers to Kansas City's zero. The Rams last won a game against the Chiefs in Kansas City on September 25, 1994, shutting the Chiefs out, 16-0.
  2. The Rams beat the Seahawks, 28-26, in St. Louis in Week 7 despite totaling 191 fewer total net yards than Seattle. This season, St. Louis is the only NFL team to record at least 160 fewer total net yards than its opponent yet still win the game.
  3. The Chiefs beat the Chargers, 23-20, in San Diego in Week 7, snapping the Chargers' six-game home win streak in the process. Kansas City held San Diego to just 69 rush yards and 182 pass yards, each are season lows for the Chiefs' defense.
  4. With nine more catches, Dwayne Bowe will become the second player all-time to record at least 500 receptions with the Chiefs, joining Tony Gonzalez (916 career receptions with the Chiefs).
  5. In his first two games of the season (both Chiefs losses), Alex Smith posted a 63.6 passer rating, completing just 58.4 percent of his passes and throwing one touchdown and three interceptions. Over his last four games (the Chiefs went 3-1 over that span), Smith has been much better, posting a 110.4 passer rating while completing 67.9 percent of his attempts and throwing eight touchdown passes to just one interception.
  6. Austin Davis completed 17 of 20 pass attempts against the Seahawks in Week 7, the highest single-game completion percentage versus a defending Super Bowl champion, all-time (minimum 20 pass attempts). The previous high was set by David Garrard while playing for the Jaguars against the Colts on December 2, 2007 (82.8 percent)

Prediction From Ramblin' Fan:

"I think we all saw how fun the Rams are when Jeff Fisher just throws caution to the wind. Though most people completely washed their hands of the Rams against the Seahawks, inventive and ingenious play calling ensured a win. Aside from that, the biggest takeaway for the Rams was the improved play of Tre Mason. With both the rookie back, offensive line and Austin Davis playing better; St. Louis looks like they could be a real offensive threat that teams need to respect. Add that to a defensive line that finally became deserving of their ‘Sack City’ moniker and there could be some joyous days ahead for the Rams. Fisher will see a foe he dominated in Andy Reid, who has gone 0-4 in their careers against each other. The Chiefs have been wildly inconsistent this season. Kansas City has beaten teams (Patriots and Chargers), but have fallen flat against the Titans and 49ers. I believe Fisher has finally opened up the ‘desperation’ playbook and I think he will continue to play gutsy football and lead the Rams to a second straight win. Rams win 27-21"

ESPN's Nick Wagoner and Adam Teicher preview the game between the Rams and Chiefs.

CBS Sports' Pete Prisco and Pat Kirwan preview the NFL Week 8 matchup between the St. Louis Rams and Kansas City Chiefs. Both Kirwan and Prisco pick KC by 7 to 10 points.