Week 11 of the NFL season is now in the history books. The Rams are coming off their best game of the season, a resounding 22-7 win over the Denver Broncos. The Rams are back on the road this week, visiting the 6-4 San Diego Chargers. The game will be a tough match up for the Rams. Can they finish off the "octet of pain" with a big win, and a .500 record in those 8 games? It's also time for Dubs to make a move on the leader, 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 19-21-1. In contrast, the Lions, Cowboys, and Cardinals were a combined 25-23 in 2013. In 2014, they're sporting a combined 23-7 record. Such is the ebb and flow of the NFL from season-to-season.
Week 11 Results
|Wins Straight Up
|Wins vs Spread
|Hot Picks vs. Spread
|Rams Straight Up
|113 47 1
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 season, and will publish the weekly results!
How did I fare against the experts in Week 8? It was a tough week for picking games, with many favorites losing. Nonetheless, my 9-5 record allowed me to move up to 2'nd place in the overall standings, only 1 win behind the leader, CBS Sports' Jamey Eisenberg. There's plenty of time left in the season to overtake the leader. 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 112th overall, with a record of 94-66 on the season.
How did I make out with my "Hot Picks Against The Spread" last week? All three of my hot picks failed to cover the spread. Record for the week: 0-3.
The Rams continue to be one of the more difficult teams to pick correctly on a week-to-week basis. They've been wildly inconsistent, especially in the last 5 weeks.
2014 NFL Team Records
|NFL ATS RANKINGS
Dubs' Pigskin Picks - Week 12
|KC 7 1/2
|Buf 3 1/2
|NE 7 1/2
|Phi 12 1/2
|SF 10 1/2
Hot Picks Against The Spread
Dallas over NY Giants - The Giants have lost 5 in a row, and looked awful in the process. Dallas is a perfect 4-0 on the road against the spread.
San Francisco over Washington - The 49ers are starting to put it all together, and have won their last two games. Washington is in disarray, and it doesn't help matters when the head coach (Jay Gruden) and franchise QB (RG3) are at odds.
St. Louis Rams @ San Diego Chargers
Keys for the Rams vs. San Diego
- 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 or tied at the half in all four 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 three of their losses, a zero differential in the other three losses, a zero turnover differential in three of their wins, and a positive differential in their big win against the Broncos.
- The Rams must establish the running game, just as they did against the Broncos. If Tre Mason can once again rush for 100 yards, the Rams have good chance to win this game.
- Minimizing mistakes and penalties. The Rams committed too many costly penalties in their first nine games. They played a disciplined game against the Broncos, committing only 3 penalties totalling 25 yards.
- Pressuring QB Phillip Rivers. 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 defensive line has finally begun to earn its preseason moniker "Sack City", and will once again need to dominate. Rivers is banged-up heading into this game, and likely won't be at his best physically.
- Shaun Hill will again lead a conservative, ball-controlling Rams offense. A clean, mistake-free game like the one against Denver is all that's expected from him.
Prediction: San Diego 21 - Rams 17
The Rams played their best game of the season last week against the Denver Broncos. It's tempting to pick them to win again this week. The Chargers are beat up and struggling, with only one win in their last four games. Nonetheless, the Chargers are a tough team to beat on the road. Their 4-1 record at home attests to that. The Rams have thus far been incredibly inconsistent, with big wins followed by head-scratching losses. They'll have to prove to me they can be consistent from week-to-week before I will pick them to win two games in a row. One thing's for sure: I'm consistently picking them incorrectly, with an abysmal 4-6 straight-up record to-date.
Perspective On The Rams Versus The Chargers
ESPN's Nick Wagoner and Eric Williams preview the game between the Rams and the Chargers.
- San Diego snapped a three-game losing streak with a 13-6 home win over Oakland Sunday, allowing just 233 net yards and a season-low nine first downs. The Chargers have averaged just 13.5 points over their last four games after scoring 27.3 per game in opening the season 5-1.
- The Rams defeated Denver 22-7 at home Sunday, giving them wins over each of last season's Super Bowl participants (28-26 over Seattle in Week 7). It was the fewest points scored by the Broncos in the Peyton Manning era (since 2012, including postseason), and the first time this season Denver was held to less than 20 points.
- The Rams lead the all-time series with San Diego, 6-4, with the last meeting a 20-17 St. Louis home win in 2010. Only three of the 10 series games have been played in San Diego, and the Rams' lone road win came back in 1975.
- Tre Mason registered his first career 100-yard rushing game Sunday, with 113 yards on 29 carries. He was one of three NFL rookies to go over 100 yards rushing last week, along with Alfred Blue of Houston (156) and Jeremy Hill of the Bengals (152).
- Philip Rivers has started 138 consecutive games at quarterback since taking over the starting job to open the 2006 season, the second-longest active streak in the NFL (Eli Manning, 161). Rivers needs 87 passing yards Sunday to become the 22nd player all-time to reach 35,000 in his career.
- San Diego is the only NFL team to have scored on every trip to the red zone this season, going 29-for-29. That includes 12 field goals; the team's 58.6 percent touchdown percentage (17/29) is 12th best in the league.
CBS Sports' Pete Prisco and Pat Kirwan preview the game between the St. Louis Rams and the San Diego Chargers.