Week 15 is now in the history books. Week 15 came quickly for the Rams, in a Thursday night matchup against the division-leading Arizona Cardinals. In a close, hard-fought defensive struggle, the Rams lost to the Cardinals 12-6, officially eliminating St. Louis from playoff contention. In another close battle yet to be decided, I'll be looking to solidify my position at the top of the leaderboard 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 28-27-1. In contrast, the Lions, Cowboys, and Cardinals were a combined 25-23 in 2013. In 2014, they're sporting a combined 31-11 record. Such is the ebb and flow of the NFL from season-to-season.
Week 15 Results
|Week||Wins Straight Up||Wins vs Spread||Hot Picks vs. Spread||Rams Straight Up|
|Last Week||12 4||11 5||1 2||0 1|
|Season||158 65 1||128 95 1||22 22 1||7 7|
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 15? My 12-4 record was good enough to vault me into a 1'st place tie with CBS Sports' Jamey Eisenberg in the overall standings. In 2013, I caught up to the leaders in Week 15, and went on to finish the season in a tie for 1'st place. TST's own Ryan Van Bibber stands alone at 107'th in the overall standings, with a record of 136-87 on the season. My 11-5 record against the spread was a very good result, in a tough week featuring many close spreads.
How did I make out with my "Hot Picks Against The Spread" last week? Denver won and handily covered the spread against the Chargers. Green Bay was upset by the Buffalo Bills, and didn't cover the 4.5 point spread. Seattle defeated San Francisco, but fell one point shy of covering the 10 1/2 point spread. Record for the week: 1-2.
2014 NFL Team Records
|NFL ATS RANKINGS|
Dubs' Pigskin Picks - Week 16
|Home||Away||Spread||Straight Up||Vs. Spread||Score|
|Jacksonville||Tennessee||Jac 3 1/2||Jacksonville||Jacksonville||31 24|
|Washington||Philadelphia||Phi 7 1/2||Philadelphia||Philadelphia||31 17|
|San Francisco||San Diego||SF 1 1/2||San Francisco||San Francisco||23 20|
|St. Louis||NY Giants||STL 7||St. Louis||St. Louis||21 13|
|Chicago||Detroit||Det 9 1/2||Detroit||Detroit||31 17|
|Miami||Minnesota||Mia 7 1/2||Miami||Minnesota||24 20|
|New Orleans||Atlanta||NO 7||New Orleans||Atlanta||30 24|
|NY Jets||New England||NE 11 1/2||New England||New England||27 14|
|Pittsburgh||Kansas City||Pit 2 1/2||Pittsburgh||Pittsburgh||24 21|
|Tampa Bay||Green Bay||GB 13||Green Bay||Green Bay||34 17|
|Carolina||Cleveland||Car 3||Carolina||Carolina||20 16|
|Houston||Baltimore||Bal 5||Baltimore||Baltimore||23 17|
|Dallas||Indianapolis||Dal 2 1/2||Dallas||Dallas||24 21|
|Oakland||Buffalo||Buf 7 1/2||Buffalo||Buffalo||17 7|
|Arizona||Seattle||Sea 9||Seattle||Seattle||19 7|
|Cincinnati||Denver||Den 3 1/2||Denver||Denver||24 17|
Hot Picks Against The Spread
Green Bay over Tampa Bay - The Packers are fighting to clinch their division, and for home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. Aaron Rodgers should rebound from a poor showing versus the Bills, against a Buccaneers team that has lost their last 4 games.
Seattle over Arizona - The Cardinals are down to their 3rd-string quarterback, Ryan Lindley. He faces a Seahawks defense that's rounding into Super Bowl form. Arizona will be hard-pressed to score in this game.
Detroit over Chicago - The Lions are in a close battle with the Packers for divisional honors. Their defense has been among the best in the NFL. They face a Bears team in total disarray. Jay Cutler has been benched. In his place, Jimmy Clausen gets the start. Not a good sign for a struggling Bears team.
Check out The Sports Geek for NFL picks, betting odds, tips, and strategies. The site is loaded with information related to sports betting.
New York Giants @ St. Louis Rams
Keys for the Rams vs. New York
- 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 six 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 four 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 last three wins. Turnovers were one of the deciding factors in the Rams' loss to the Cardinals in Week 15.
- The Rams must establish the running game. If Tre Mason can eclipse the 100-yard mark in rushing, the Rams have a good chance to win this game. The Rams face a New York defense ranked 30'th in the league in rushing yards allowed per game (135.1).
- Minimizing mistakes and penalties. When the Rams play disciplined football, they win games. The Rams are 3-0 when they have a positive team penalty yards differential, and are 3-8 when they have more penalty yards than their opponent.
- Pressuring QB Eli Manning, containing Andre Williams, and neutralizing Odell Beckham Jr.. The Rams' defense has come on in the last 8 weeks, and they're now tied for 11'th in the league in sacks (36). The Rams' defense has not allowed a touchdown in 12 quarters, and has held opponents to 46 points in its last 5 games combined.
- Shaun Hill will again lead a conservative, ball-controlling Rams offense. A clean, mistake-free game like the one's against Denver and Oakland is all that's expected of him.
Prediction: Rams 21 - New York 13
The Rams come into this game as 7-point favorites. The Giants have had a terrible time of it on the road. They're 2-5 away from the comforts of home, and 2-5 against the spread in away games (tied for worst in the NFL). The over/under for this game is 43.5 points. 97% of the money bet to-date is on the under. What do all of these numbers mean? A low-scoring affair, with the Rams inching one step closer to .500 on the season.
Perspective On The Rams Versus The Giants
ESPN's Nick Wagoner and Dan Graziano preview Sunday's game between the St. Louis Rams and the New York Giants.
- The Giants have won their last five meetings with the Rams after losing the previous five and 16 of the previous 21. In three meetings since Eli Manning came to New York, the Giants have averaged 37.7 points per game while allowing just 17.7.
- New York won its second consecutive game by double digits after losing seven straight games, joining the 2011 Dolphins as the only teams in the last 25 seasons with back-to-back double-digit wins after a seven-game losing streak. The Giants beat Washington at home despite getting outgained 372-287, thanks to superior red-zone efficiency (17 points on three trips compared to 13 points allowed on four trips).
- St. Louis lost to Arizona at home, 12-6, in Week 15, but the Rams extended their streak of not allowing a touchdown to three straight games, the longest in franchise history. St. Louis managed just 280 total yards while committing two turnovers after not giving the ball away in its previous three home games.
- Eli Manning went 23-for-34 for 250 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions last week. His 118.5 passer rating was his second highest of the season (123.2 vs. Houston in Week 3). In three career games against the Rams, Manning has thrown nine touchdowns to one interception, and his 115.5 passer rating against St. Louis is third highest since the merger, minimum 50 attempts (Aaron Rodgers: 127.9, Tony Romo: 119.6).
- In five games since returning to the starting role, Shaun Hill has gone 3-2 despite failing to reach 230 passing yards in any game. Hill has one touchdown pass and four interceptions in his team's losses, compared to five touchdown passes and no interceptions in his team's wins.
- Odell Beckham Jr. had another big game last week, tallying 12 of his team's 23 receptions for 143 yards and three touchdowns. He became the first player in Giants history and the first rookie in NFL history to tally 12 receptions, 140 receiving yards and three receiving touchdowns in a game
CBS Sports' Pat Kirwan and Pete Prisco preview the Sunday matchup between the Rams and Giants.