Week 16 is now in the history books. The Rams are coming off a disappointing loss at home to the New York Giants. This week, the Rams travel to Seattle for their season finale against the red hot Seahawks. Can the Rams pull off the upset, and finish with yet another 7 win season? Can Dubs hold on to the lead in the weekly picks contest?
A big question will be answered this weekend: Where will the Rams select in the first round of the 2015 NFL Draft? If the Rams defeat the Seahawks, they'll be picking in the 12-14 range . If they lose to the Seahawks, the Rams will be selecting as high as eighth. Minnesota, Atlanta, New Orleans, and the Giants all stand at 6-9 on the season, Wins by all four - coupled with a Rams loss - will result in the Rams selecting 8th in the 2015 NFL Draft.
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 30-29-1. In contrast, the Lions, Cowboys, and Cardinals were a combined 25-23 in 2013. In 2014, they're sporting a combined 33-12 record. Such is the ebb and flow of the NFL from season-to-season.
Week 16 Results
|Week||Wins Straight Up||Wins vs Spread||Hot Picks vs. Spread||Rams Straight Up|
|Last Week||9 7||9 7||2 1||0 1|
|Season||167 72 1||137 102 1||24 23 1||7 8|
Pickwatch is a site devoted to tracking weekly picks results from NFL experts, analysts, and media types. This year, they're tracking 133 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 16? My 9-7 record was good enough to remain in a 1'st place tie in the overall standings with CBS Sports' Jamey Eisenberg. TST's own Ryan Van Bibber stands alone at 105'th in the overall standings, with a record of 146-93 on the season. My 9-7 record against the spread was a very good result, in a tough week featuring many close spreads and many upsets.
How did I make out with my "Hot Picks Against The Spread" last week? Green Bay and Seattle both won easily and covered the spread. Detroit defeated Chicago, but were 4 points shy of covering the spread. Record for the week: 2-1.
2014 NFL Team Records
|NFL ATS RANKINGS|
Dubs' Pigskin Picks - Week 17
|Home||Away||Spread||Straight Up||Vs. Spread||Score|
|Seattle||St. Louis||Sea 14||Seattle||St. Louis||19 13|
|Tennessee||Indianapolis||7 1/2||Indianapolis||Indianapolis||31 20|
|Kansas City||San Diego||KC 3||San Diego||San Diego||20 13|
|Miami||NY Jets||Mia 7||Miami||NY Jets||21 20|
|Minnesota||Chicago||Min 7||Minnesota||Chicago||24 21|
|New England||Buffalo||NE 5||New England||New England||26 17|
|NY Giants||Philadelphia||NY 2 1/2||Philadelphia||Philadelphia||23 20|
|Tampa Bay||New Orleans||NO 4||New Orleans||New Orleans||24 20|
|Washington||Dallas||Dal 5 1/2||Dallas||Dallas||27 17|
|Baltimore||Cleveland||Bal 10||Baltimore||Baltimore||27 14|
|Houston||Jacksonville||Hou 10 1/2||Houston||Houston||28 17|
|Atlanta||Carolina||Atl 3 1/2||Atlanta||Carolina||23 20|
|Denver||Oakland||Den 14 1/2||Denver||Denver||30 14|
|Green Bay||Detroit||GB 9||Green Bay||Detroit||24 17|
|San Francisco||Arizona||SF 7||San Francisco||Arizona||19 13|
|Pittsburgh||Cincinnati||Pit 4||Pittsburgh||Cincinnati||23 21|
Hot Picks Against The Spread
Detroit over Green Bay - The Packers are tough at home, and should win this game. The Lions will keep the game close, and cover the 9 point spread. A tough battle between a pair of 11-4 teams, with the NFC North title on the line.
San Diego over Kansas City - QB Alex Smith will be out - with a lacerated spleen - against the Chargers. His loss is a devastating blow to KC's playoff hopes.
Arizona over San Francisco - This could be Jim Harbaugh's swan song with the 49ers. Look for a close, low-scoring game.
St. Louis Rams @ Seattle Seahawks
Keys for the Rams vs. Seattle
- 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 five 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 Giants in Week 16.
- 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 Seattle defense ranked 3rd in the NFL in rushing yards allowed (84.1).
- Minimizing mistakes and penalties. When the Rams play disciplined football, they win games. The Rams are 3-1 when they have a positive team penalty yards differential, and are 3-8 when they have more penalty yards than their opponent.
- Pressuring QB Russell Wilson, and containing RB Marshawn Lynch. In the Rams' Week 7 win over the Seahawks, Lynch was held to 53 yards rushing on 18 carries. Wilson threw for 313 yards and ran for 106 yards in that same game. Wilson and Lynch are the heart and soul of Seattle's offense.
- 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: Seattle 19 - Rams 13
The Seattle Seahawks are fighting to win the NFC West and gain home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. The Seahawks are riding a 5 game winning streak, and are playing at home this weekend, where they're sporting a 6-1 record this season. Seattle's defense has thoroughly dominated opponents during the winning streak, allowing only 33 points combined in the 5 games. The Rams are 14-point underdogs heading into the weekend. They'll make this game close, but the offense won't put enough points on the board to win.
Perspective On The Rams Versus Seattle
ESPN's Terry Blount and Nick Wagoner preview the game between the St. Louis Rams and Seattle Seahawks.
- The Rams are coming off a 37-27 home loss against the Giants in Week 16. St. Louis had allowed a total of just 12 points and zero touchdowns over its previous three contests.
- Seattle is coming off its fifth straight win, a 35-6 victory at Arizona on Sunday night. The Seahawks set a franchise record with 596 yards on offense and outscored the Cardinals 21-0 in the fourth quarter.
- Seattle leads the all-time series, 20-12. The Seahawks have won nine straight home games against the Rams, outscoring them 246-98 in those contests.
- Russell Wilson gained 88 yards on the ground in Sunday's win, giving him 842 on the season. That is the fifth-highest rushing total for a quarterback in a single season in NFL history.
- Since Week 11, Shaun Hill has posted a passer rating of at least 100 in four different games, tied for the second most by any starting quarterback over that span (Aaron Rodgers -- 5).
- Marshawn Lynch has at least 1200 rush yards and 10 rushing touchdowns in each of the last four seasons, tied for the second-longest such streak in NFL history (LaDainian Tomlinson -- 7; 2001 -- 2007). Lynch has a total of just 173 rush yards and a single rushing touchdown against the Rams since the beginning of last season (three games).
CBS Sports' Pat Kirwan and Pete Prisco preview Sunday's game between the St. Louis Rams and Seattle Seahawks.