Green Bay Packers (3-3) at St. Louis Rams (3-3)
It’s funny how much the general public likes to overreact to one game. Last week, everyone was talking about “what’s wrong with the Packers?” and now some people are calling them the best team in the NFL once again. On top of that, they are being very heavily bet as road dogs here. As you may know if you read these picks often, I love to fade the public.
My opinion is that they weren’t as bad as they looked after the loss to the Colts’ and they aren’t as good as they look now. They could easily be 5-1 if it hadn’t been for the touchception and ChuckStrong, but they’re also not as good as they were last year. The passing offense, overall, is not as good and they do seem to miss Greg Jennings, overall. Not last week, but overall. He won’t play in this one. They also don’t run the ball as well as they did last year nor do they pass protect as well. Meanwhile, they’re not dominating the turnover battle like they did last year, predictable if you know anything about turnover differentials.
They still rank just 11th in yards per play, while St. Louis ranks 15th. The yards per play method of computing the “real” line actually suggests this line should be St. Louis by 2.5. In terms of rate of sustaining drives differential, they rank 8th, while St. Louis ranks 21st, but it’s pretty crowded in the middle, as you would expect if you’ve been watching teams this season, and that method of computing the “real” line suggests this should be a pick em. Either way you’re getting line value with the Rams.
In order for this line to be valid, the Packers would have to rank 1st in yards per play differential and 3rd in rate of sustaining drives differential. They’re not the powerhouse they were last year and the Rams are hardly the pushover they were last year. Despite injuries in his receiving corps and on his offensive line, Sam Bradford played arguably the best game of his season last week in Miami against a tough defense. He’s really matured and is much better coached. He seems to have taken the leap to the type of quarterback who can succeed with a bunch of “next men up” in the lineup around him, something he couldn’t do last year. Defensively, they’re also much improved. At home, they should be able to keep it close with a Packers team that won’t be nearly as fired to play the Rams as they were to play the Texans last week.
Besides, home dogs are dominating this year, going 22-11 ATS. That speaks that the high level of parity that’s been present this season, something I alluded to earlier. In fact, teams are 19-14 straight up as home dogs this season. I don’t think the Rams will win straight up here, but stranger things have happened. They’ve already pulled 3 upsets as home dogs this season and they are 5-1 ATS overall. Dating back to 2010, home dogs of 6+ are 37-23 ATS. I like being able to fade a heavy public lean with an underrated team against an overrated team and take a home dog, especially a big home dog, at the same time. As long as this line is 6 (a key number in betting circles), it’s a 3 unit pick on a week that’s overall devoid of good plays.
Public lean: Green Bay (new thing I’m adding, siding with the odds makers on bets is not a bad thing to do since they make so much money, so I’m listing this here to allow readers to “fade” the public, if they so choose, in this example, the odds makers win if St. Louis covers)
Sharps lean: STL 21 GB 6
Final update: BJ Raji, Nick Perry, and Sam Shields have all been ruled out for Green Bay, which hurts their defense. Besides, the sharps love St. Louis even at the LV Hilton line of -5.5. I do too. This spread is at least 3 points too high. St. Louis is no pushover and Green Bay is banged up defensively, not the same offensively, and not winning the turnover battle like last year. This is a co-pick of the week for 4 units.
I also think there’s value with the money line at +200. This is what’s known as a teaser killer line. Since 2002, 6 point road favorites are 27-13 straight up. For reference, 5 point road favorites are 19-8 and 7 point road favorites are 37-10, both of which are higher winning percentages. The odds makers don’t mess around. They know if they have Green Bay -6, lots of people will put them in teasers at PK.
St. Louis Rams 24 Green Bay Packers 23 Upset Pick +200
Pick against spread: St. Louis +6 (-110) 4 units