Tampa Bay Buccaneers (6-7) at St. Louis Rams (5-8)
Ordinarily, non-divisional home favorites do really well on Thursday nights, going 26-13 ATS since 2002. It makes sense. It’s tough for a team to face an unfamiliar and superior opponent on a short week on the road. The Rams are non-divisional home favorites on Thursday night here, but they are not the superior team, ranking 31st in rate of moving the chains differential. Defensive end Robert Quinn, safety TJ McDonald, and outside linebacker Alec Ogletree are all out for the season right now, so the Rams are far less talented defensively than their 6th place rank in rate of moving the chains allowed suggests. Offensively, they don’t just rank dead last in rate of moving the chains; they’re also arguably the worst offense I’ve seen in years. The Buccaneers are not a great team, but they’re significantly more talented than the Rams and rank 22nd in rate of moving the chains differential. The Rams shouldn’t be favored here.
The Rams are only favored by a point and a half, so we’re not getting a ton of line value with the Buccaneers, but the Buccaneers are also in a way better spot. While they get to host the Bears next week, a game in which they’ll be favored, the Rams have to go to Seattle and face a surging Seahawks team, a game in which they’ll definitely be underdogs. Underdogs are 115-77 ATS before being favorites when their opponent will next be underdogs, since 2010.
Not only are the Rams underdogs next week, but they’ll probably be double digit underdogs in arguably the toughest game of their season. That’s really going to make it hard to focus this week. Teams are understandably 89-146 ATS since 2008 before being double digit underdogs, including 18-31 ATS as favorites. Combining all this, teams are just 19-47 ATS since 1989 as favorites before being double digit underdogs when their opponent will next be favorites. On top of that, the Rams are coming off of a win as home underdogs, a spot teams are 44-72 ATS in since 2012. This is Pick of the Week material if the line climbs to a field goal. I like the Buccaneers a good deal either way.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers 20 St. Louis Rams 13 Upset Pick +100
Pick against the spread: Tampa Bay +1.5