Los Angeles Rams (5-0) at Denver Broncos (2-3)
The Broncos lost 34-16 in New York against the Jets last week, but they actually won the first down battle, picking up 26 first downs to 18 for the Jets and moving the chains at a 2.82% better rate. The Broncos lost by double digits because they allowed numerous large plays, but large plays tend to be inconsistent on a week-to-week basis. For example, the Broncos allowed 3 touchdowns of 35 yards or longer against the Jets, despite only allowing 1 touchdown longer than 35 yards in their previous 4 games and despite holding a much better Chiefs offense to just one play of 35 yards or more the previous week. Despite last week’s loss, the Broncos still rank 9th in first down rate differential on the year.
The Broncos were also in a terrible spot last week, with that Jets game sandwiched in between two much tougher games, their home game against the Chiefs week 4 and this home game against the league’s other undefeated team the Los Angeles Rams. The Broncos kept it close with the Chiefs and, though the Rams are a step up in talent because they are strong on both sides of the ball, the Broncos could easily keep this one close as well, as 7 point home underdogs. The Rams also have not been as good defensively since losing cornerback Aqib Talib to injury, allowing 30+ points in back-to-back weeks. Fellow starting cornerback Marcus Peters has not missed a game, but has struggled mightily in 2 games since sustaining a calf injury that was supposed to keep him out 2-4 weeks. If he continues to struggle, the Broncos could have a relatively easy time moving the ball in this one.
With only a game in Arizona on deck, the Broncos have no upcoming distractions. Home underdogs are 21-8 ATS since 2014 before being road favorites, which the Broncos are expected to be next week. The Rams are in a good spot too though, with only a trip to San Francisco, where they will be road favorites, on deck. Big favorites tend to take care of business before being big favorites again, going 79-50 ATS since 2014 as favorites of 6+ before being favorites of 6+ again. We’re getting some line value with the Broncos so I am taking them, but there’s not enough here for the Broncos to be worth betting this week.
Los Angeles Rams 26 Denver Broncos 20
Pick against the spread: Denver +7