St. Louis Rams (4-5) at Baltimore Ravens (2-7)
The Rams have benched Nick Foles, who they traded for and gave an extension to this off-season, for backup Case Keenum. Keenum has struggled in a decent amount of action in his career, completing 55.2% of his passes for an average of 6.65 YPA, 11 touchdowns, and 8 interceptions across 330 attempts, but it would be hard for him to be worse than Foles has been this season. Foles has posted equally poor numbers, completing 56.6% of his passes for an average of 6.56 YPA, 7 touchdowns, and 6 interceptions across 256 attempts and the Rams rank easily dead last in the NFL in rate of moving the chains, wasting the performance of a defense that ranks 4th in rate of moving the chains allowed.
It’s also going to be hard for Keenum to be much of an improvement, considering his limited skill set and that he’ll have to work with the same receiving corps and offensive line that Foles had to work with, both units that are arguably the worst in the NFL. Because of how poor the offense is, the Rams rank 28th in rate of moving the chains differential, despite a strong defense. Their defense hasn’t been quite as good in recent weeks anyway, thanks to injuries to Alec Ogletree, defensive end Chris Long, and especially defensive end Robert Quinn. Long could return this week, but missing Quinn again is a huge absence, considering he’s one of the best defensive linemen in the NFL when healthy.
The Ravens aren’t very good either, ranking 25th in rate of moving the chains differential. After ranking 3rd in that statistic in 2014, the Ravens have lost wide receiver Torrey Smith (free agency), wide receiver Steve Smith (injury), outside linebacker Pernell McPhee (free agency), defensive lineman Haloti Ngata (cap casualty), outside linebacker Terrell Suggs (injury), and offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak (now Denver’s head coach). Now they’ve lost starting center Jeremy Zuttah for the season and could be without left guard Kelechi Osemele with injury as well. Still, they’re a better team than the Rams, which is not what this line suggests at 2.5. Considering close to 1 in 6 games are decided by exactly a field goal, I’m going to take the Ravens as less than field goal favorites, though I’m not confident.
Baltimore Ravens 17 St. Louis Rams 13
Pick against the spread: Baltimore -2.5