Week 12 of the NFL season is now in the history books. The Rams are coming off a disappointing 27-24 loss to the San Diego Chargers, a game they could have won in the dying moments. The Oakland Raiders are in town this week to visit the Rams. For the first time in what seems like forever, the Rams are healthy favorites to win a game. 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 22-23-1. In contrast, the Lions, Cowboys, and Cardinals were a combined 25-23 in 2013. In 2014, they're sporting a combined 25-10 record. Such is the ebb and flow of the NFL from season-to-season.
Week 12 Results
|Week||Wins Straight Up||Wins vs Spread||Hot Picks vs. Spread||Rams Straight Up|
|Last Week||12 3||6 8 1||1 1 1||1 0|
|Season||125 50 1||102 73 1||19 16 1||5 6|
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 12? Most of the experts had a very good week with their picks. My 12-3 record was just enough to remain in a tie for 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 114th overall, with a record of 105-70 on the season.
How did I make out with my "Hot Picks Against The Spread" last week? A mixed bag of results. The Colts won and easily covered the spread. The Giants-Cowboys game was a push. San Francisco defeated Washington, but didn't cover the spread. Record for the week: 1-1-1.
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 6 weeks. Although I picked them correctly last week, my overall record in picking the Rams is quite abysmal.
2014 NFL Team Records
|NFL ATS RANKINGS|
Dubs' Pigskin Picks - Week 13
|Home||Away||Spread||Straight Up||Vs. Spread||Score|
|Detroit||Chicago||Det 7||Detroit||Detroit||30 20|
|Dallas||Philadelphia||Dal 3||Dallas||Dallas||31 27|
|San Francisco||Seattle||SF 1||Seattle||Seattle||21 20|
|Buffalo||Cleveland||Buf 2 1/2||Buffalo||Buffalo||20 17|
|Indianapolis||Washington||Ind 10 1/2||Indianapolis||Indianapolis||31 14|
|St. Louis||Oakland||StL 7||St. Louis||Oakland||23 17|
|Minnesota||Carolina||Min 2 1/2||Minnesota||Minnesota||23 20|
|Pittsburgh||New Orleans||Pit 4||Pittsburgh||Pittsburgh||27 21|
|Tampa Bay||Cincinnati||Cin 4||Cincinnati||Cincinnati||30 14|
|Jacksonville||NY Giants||NYG 2 1/2||NY Giants||NY Giants||24 20|
|Baltimore||San Diego||Bal 7||Baltimore||San Diego||27 21|
|Houston||Tennessee||Hou 7||Houston||Houston||23 20|
|Atlanta||Arizona||Ari 2 1/2||Arizona||Arizona||23 14|
|Green Bay||New England||GB 3||New England||New England||31 28|
|Kansas City||Denver||Even||Denver||Denver||31 21|
|NY Jets||Miami||Mia 7||Miami||Miami||30 20|
Hot Picks Against The Spread
Indianapolis over Washington - The Redskins are reeling, as the RG3 saga continues. Colt McCoy has taken over as their starting QB. The Colts win going away.
Cincinnati over Tampa Bay - The Bengals are in a battle for their division, with all four teams at 7 wins. Tampa Bay has yet to win a game at home this season.
Arizona over Atlanta - Bruce Arians lit into his team following their poor performance against the Seahawks. Look for the Cardinals to rebound in a big way against the 4-7 Falcons.
Oakland Raiders @ St. Louis Rams
Keys for the Rams vs. Oakland
- 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 four losses, a zero turnover differential in three of their wins, and a positive differential in their big win against the Broncos. Turnovers were the deciding factor in the Rams' loss to San Diego in Week 12.
- 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. The Rams face an Oakland defense ranked 25th in the league in rushing yards allowed (126.7 per 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. Penalties again hurt the Rams in the loss to San Diego, as the team committed 9 penalties totalling 90 yards, many of them critical to the outcome of the game.
- Pressuring QB Derek Carr. Carr is exhibiting normal rookie growing pains. The Raiders rank 27th in the league in passing yards (216.2 per game). The Raiders' offensive line has been very good at protecting the QB, only allowing 13 sacks through 11 games (2nd best in the NFL). Will Chris Long return to the line-up this weekend?
- 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 of him. A repeat performance of last weeks game against the Chargers could make this game a lot closer than it should be.
Prediction: Rams 23 - Oakland 17
As noted, the Rams have been wildly inconsistent this season, particularly in the last 7 games. Big wins followed by perplexing losses. The game against the Raiders will be closer than many suspect. Oakland is well-rested, and coming off a huge Thursday night upset win over the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 12. Over the last 7 games, the Rams have won all three games on odd weeks, and lost all four games on even weeks. Which makes them due for a victory on Sunday in Week 13.
Perspective On The Rams Versus The Raiders
ESPN's Nick Wagoner and Michael Wagaman preview Sunday's matchup between the Rams and the Raiders.
- The Raiders hold an 8-4 advantage in their all-time series with the Rams, but St. Louis has won two of the teams' last three meetings. Oakland's only previous trip to St. Louis was on October 13, 2002 -- a 28-13 Rams' win.
- Oakland snapped a 16-game losing streak in its Week 12 home win over the Chiefs, picking up its first win of the season after a 0-10 start. The last team to lose their first 10+ games in a season and go on to win consecutive games is the 2011 Colts, who lost 13 straight before winning in Weeks 15 and 16.
- The Rams fell in San Diego last week, 27-24 -- squandering any hopes of a comeback after Shaun Hill threw an interception from the Chargers' four yard line with 1:03 remaining in the game. They return to St. Louis, where the team has won two straight after a three-game home losing streak to begin the season.
- Derek Carr led the 17-play game-winning drive for the Raiders last week, converting both a fourth-down and third-down with his feet. His nine-yard pass to James Jones with 1:46 remaining was the deciding score in the 24-20 victory.
- Hill got his second straight start in Week 12, following up his win over the Broncos with a one touchdown, two interception performance in San Diego. Hill has a 10-4 mark for his career as a home starter, compared to 4-11 on the road.
- Rams' punter Johnny Hekker was called upon to execute a fake punt for the second time this season, completing a 19-yard pass in the fourth quarter against the Chargers last week. Hekker is now 5-for-6 (83.3 percent) passing in his career for one touchdown and five first downs.
CBS Sports' Pat Kirwan and Pete Prisco preview the game between the St. Louis Rams and Oakland Raiders: