Week 8 of the NFL season is now in the history books. The Rams are coming off a crushing loss to the Kansas City Chiefs. The Rams continue on the road this week, visiting their arch-rival, the San Francisco 49ers. The game will be a tough match up for the Rams, but one that's winnable, especially if they can play a disciplined, mistake-free game, and overcome their injuries and roster issues. 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 15-15-1. In contrast, the Lions, Cowboys, and Cardinals were a combined 25-23 in 2013. In 2014, they're sporting a combined 18-5 record. Such is the ebb and flow of the NFL from season-to-season.
Week 8 Results
|Week||Wins Straight Up||Wins vs Spread||Hot Picks vs. Spread||Rams Straight Up|
|Last Week||11 4||10 5||1 2||1 0|
|Season||84 36 1||74 47||13 11||3 4|
Pickwatch is a site devoted to tracking weekly picks results from NFL experts, analysts, and media types. 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 8? My 11-4 record allowed me to move up to a tie for 4'th place in the overall standings, only 1 win behind the 3 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 107'th overall, with a record of 71-49 on the season.
How did I make out with my "Hot Picks Against The Spread" last week? Indianapolis was upset by Pittsburgh and did not cover the spread. New England won going way, and easily covered the spread against Chicago. Seattle defeated Carolina, but fell 2 points short of covering the 5 point spread. Record for the week: 1-2.
2014 NFL Team Records
|NFL ATS RANKINGS|
Dubs' Pigskin Picks - Week 9
|Home||Away||Spread||Straight Up||Vs. Spread||Score|
|Carolina||New Orleans||NO 2 1/2||New Orleans||New Orleans||24 21|
|Cincinnati||Jacksonville||Cin 11 1/2||Cincinnati||Cincinnati||31 17|
|Cleveland||Tampa Bay||Cle 7||Cleveland||Cleveland||24 14|
|Dallas||Arizona||Dal 3||Arizona||Arizona||24 14|
|Kansas City||NY Jets||KC 10 1/2||Kansas City||Kansas City||30 17|
|Miami||San Diego||Mia 1||San Diego||San Diego||24 17|
|San Francisco||St. Louis||SF 10 1/2||San Francisco||San Francisco||31 19|
|New England||Denver||Den 2 1/2||Denver||Denver||31 27|
|Seattle||Oakland||Sea 15 1/2||Seattle||Seattle||30 10|
|NY Giants||Indianapolis||Ind 3||Indianpolis||Indianapolis||31 21|
Hot Picks Against The Spread
Indianapolis over NY Giants - The Colts have the best record ATS in the NFL, with a 3-1 record on the road ATS.
San Francisco over St. Louis - The Rams are terribly banged-up heading into this game. The 49ers are coming off a bye and are at home for this contest.
Arizona over Dallas - Tony Romo may (or may not) play on Sunday. If he plays, he'll be in pain. Dallas is 2-3 ATS at home this season.
St. Louis Rams @ San Francisco 49ers
Keys for the Rams vs. San Francisco
- 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 three losses, and a zero turnover differential in their two wins.
- 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.The Rams' offensive line is pretty banged-up, and lost LT Jake Long for the year with a torn ACL. Greg Robinson moves over to LT and will lead the offensive line.
- 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. The Rams regressed against Kansas City, committing 8 penalties totalling 68 yards.
- Containing RB Frank Gore.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 31'st in yards (144.3) and 26'th in yards-per-attempt (4.7). In their first meeting, the Rams did a good job of containing Frank Gore, limiting him to 38 yards on 16 carries.
- Pressuring and containing QB Colin Kaepernick. William Hayes will once 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.The Rams could be missing DT Aaron Donald in this game. Kaepernick had his best game of the season in the first meeting between these two teams, throwing for 343 yards and 3 TD's.
Prediction: San Francisco 31 - Rams 13
Since last Saturday, the Rams have made 19 roster transactions involving 16 players. 13 players were on the mid-week injury report. The offensive line is banged-up and in disarray, with 3 starters potentially out of action against the 49ers. Three rookies may start at CB on Sunday. Brian Quick is lost for the season. All of these figures add up to a Rams loss on Sunday. 4-5 days is far too little time to get this patchwork line-up prepared and working together.
Perspective On The Rams Versus The 49ers
ESPN's Nick Wagoner and Paul Gutierrez preview the game between the Rams and 49ers.
Steve Savard, Will Witherspoon, and D'Marco Farr break down the Rams' matchup with San Francisco: St. Louis Rams Official Website
Rams-49ers preview: New York Times
In each game Rams lost, at least 1 return TD against. None in two wins. Rams have 6 return TDs against, most in league.— Howard Balzer (@HBalzer721) November 1, 2014
From NY Times/Stats:
- The Rams and 49ers met three weeks ago in a Monday Night Football game in St. Louis in a contest the Rams led 14-0 after the first quarter. However, the 49ers outscored the Rams 31-3 the rest of the way for a 31-17 victory.
- St. Louis lost at Kansas City, 34-7, last week. The Rams led 7-0 after the first quarter, but allowed 34 unanswered points the rest of the game. It was the third time this season St. Louis lost a game it led by 7+ points after the first quarter. No other team has more than one such loss this season.
- San Francisco is coming off its bye week. In its last game prior to the bye, the 49ers lost at Denver, 42-17. The 42 points allowed tie a high in the Jim Harbaugh era (since 2011), also done December 23, 2012 at Seattle (a 42-13 loss).
- Sunday's contest will be the fifth time the 49ers face the Rams with San Francisco coming off its bye. The 49ers have been home in all five instances and own a 3-0-1 record in the prior four games.
- Lance Kendricks has a touchdown catch in three straight games, tying the franchise record for tight ends. Kendricks happened to tie himself for the record, a mark he set last season (September 26 to October 13).
- Colin Kaepernick has thrown a touchdown pass in 17 straight games (regular and postseason), tied for the second-longest streak in 49ers history. The longest streak belongs to Steve Young who threw a touchdown pass in 21 straight games between October 9, 1994 and November 26, 1995
CBS Sports' Pete Prisco and Pat Kirwan preview the matchup between the Rams and 49ers: