Week 4 of the 2014 NFL regular season is now in the history books. The Rams - coming off an early bye - travel to Philadelphia to face Chip Kelly's Eagles on Sunday. The game will be a tough match up for the Rams, but one that's eminently winnable. It's also time for Dubs to make a move on the leaders, in the weekly Pigskin Picks contest. The first quarter of the season was filled with many surprises and upsets, making it difficult to consistently pick winners week-to-week.
The biggest surprises thus far? The Patriots, Colts, 49'ers, Panthers, and Saints finished with a combined 58-22 record last season. This year, the Saints are 1-3, and the other four teams are 2-2 (a combined 9-11 record). Conversely, the Cowboys, Lions, Ravens, and Texans are all 3-1 this season (12-4 combined) after going a combined 25-39 in 2013. Such is the ebb and flow of the NFL.
Week 4 Results
|Week||Wins Straight Up||Wins vs Spread||Hot Picks vs. Spread||Rams Straight Up|
|Last Week||10 3||10 3||2 1||Bye|
|Season||39 22||36 25||7 5||0 3|
Pickwatch is a site devoted to tracking weekly picks results from NFL experts, analysts, media types, and pundits (link). This year, they're tracking 117 experts on a weekly basis. I'll be competing against them again this year, and will publish the weekly results! How did I fare against the experts in Week 4? My 10-3 record puts me into a 6'th place tie in the overall standings, two behind the leaders. There's plenty of time 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 86'th, with a record of 33-28 on the season.
How did I make out with my "Hot Picks Against The Spread" last week? San Diego and Indianapolis both won easily and covered the spread. Tampa Bay upset Pittsburgh, who did not cover the spread. Record for the week: 2-1.
2014 NFL Team Records
|2014 NFL Betting Records|
Dubs' Pigskin Picks - Week 5
|Home||Away||Spread||Straight Up||Vs. Spread||Score|
|Green Bay||Minnesota||GB 10||Green Bay||Green Bay||31 17|
|NY Giants||Atlanta||NY 4 1/2||NY Giants||Atlanta||24 20|
|Indianapolis||Baltimore||Ind 3||Indianapolis||Baltimore||23 21|
|Detroit||Buffalo||Det 9||Detroit||Detroit||24 10|
|Carolina||Chicago||Car 2 1/2||Carolina||Carolina||23 20|
|Dallas||Houston||Dal 7||Dallas||Houston||24 20|
|Jacksonville||Pittsburgh||Pit 7||Pittsburgh||Pittsburgh||24 14|
|Philadelphia||St. Louis||Phi 7 1/2||Philadelphia||St. Louis||23 20|
|New Orleans||Tampa Bay||NO 11||New Orleans||New Orleans||27 14|
|Denver||Arizona||Den 8||Denver||Arizona||24 21|
|San Francisco||Kansas City||SF 7||San Francisco||Kansas City||26 21|
|San Diego||NY Jets||SD 7||San Diego||San Diego||28 20|
|New England||Cincinnati||Even||Cincinnati||Cincinnati||24 17|
|Washington||Seattle||Sea 8 1/2||Seattle||Seattle||34 17|
Hot Picks Against The Spread
San Diego over New York Jets - The Chargers are a perfect 4-0 against the spread this season. The Jets have yet to cover the spread in 2014.
Pittsburgh over Jacksonville - The Steelers are coming off an embarrassing loss to Tampa Bay, and will exact their revenge on the winless Jags. The Jags are 0-4 against the spread this season.
St. Louis Rams @ Philadelphia Eagles
Keys For The Rams vs. Eagles
- 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 both of their losses, and an even turnover differential in the win against Tampa Bay.
- The Rams must establish the running game, give the ball to Zac Stacy more consistently, and exploit the Eagles' 26'th ranked rushing defense.
- With CB Trumaine Johnson still out, it falls on Janoris Jenkins to shut down the Eagles' leading receiver Jeremy Maclin.
- 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 13 penalties in their loss to the Vikings. Versus Tampa Bay, the Rams committed 5 penalties officially. Including the offset and declined penalties, the Rams committed 9 infractions in total. Against Dallas, the Rams committed 8 penalties resulting in 119 penalty yards.
- Containing RB LeSean McCoy. The Rams were much improved against the run in 2013, finishing 9'th in the league. In three games this season, the Rams have given up an average of 155 rushing yards per game (30'th in the NFL).
- Pressuring QB Nick Foles. The Rams have a pass rush that could give the Eagles' offensive line fits. The Eagles' offensive line has suffered from injuries and Lane Johnson's suspension. 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.
- 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: Philadelphia 23 - Rams 20
I'm sporting an 0-3 record picking the Rams games straight-up this season. The game against the Eagles is another tough one to handicap. Both teams are struggling with their running games, offensively and defensively. LeSean McCoy vs. Zac Stacy and Austin Davis vs. Nick Foles will ultimately decide the outcome. The Rams will keep the game close and cover the 7.5 point spread. If this game was in St. Louis, I'd be picking the Rams to win.
Perspective On The Rams Versus Philadelphia
ESPN's Nick Wagoner and Pat Sheridan preview the contest between the Rams and Eagles.
The ESPN NFL Live crew make their prediction for Sunday's game:
CBS Sports' Pete Prisco and Pat Kirwan preview the NFL Week 5 matchup between the St. Louis Rams and Philadelphia Eagles: