Jacksonville Jaguars (2-9) at Los Angeles Rams (7-4)
The Rams were 7-1 a few weeks ago and were adding even more talent, acquiring edge defender Von Miller and wide receiver Odell Beckham at the trade deadline. However, since then, the Rams have lost three straight games to fall to 7-4. What happened? Well, part of it is Miller and Beckham have not contributed in a huge way, still learning the playbook and dealing with lingering injuries, and, at the same time, the Rams have also had players who were key to their 7-1 start suffer injuries as well, with wide receiver Robert Woods going down for the season and quarterback Matt Stafford playing at less than 100%.
Part of it is also that the Rams have faced a tough schedule, as the Titans, Rams, and Packers are all likely to be playoff teams. That schedule gets a lot easier this week, with the Jaguars coming to town. Even without Woods and with Stafford playing at less than 100%, we are still getting a little bit of line value with the Rams at -13, as my calculated line has the Rams as 14-point favorites, with both Beckham and Miller likely to have bigger roles this season, albeit with the former still playing through injury.
However, that isn’t nearly enough line value to take the Rams with any confidence and, in fact, I am actually going to take the Jaguars for pick ‘em purposes, as the Rams are in a bad spot. The Rams need a win so they might not be unfocused, but they may also see this as an easy get right spot, when in reality, they need to play better than they have to win this game easily. Making that more likely is that the Rams have to turn around and face the Cardinals in a much bigger game next week. Even if they get up big early, they could take their foot off the gas with a bigger game on deck and allow a backdoor cover.
Favorites of a touchdown or more cover at just a 42.7% rate all-time before facing an opponent with a winning percentage that is at least 50% higher than their current opponent’s winning percentage, which fits the Rams against the 2-9 Jaguars before the 9-2 Cardinals. I can’t take the Jaguars with any confidence either, especially since they will be without their top cornerback Shaq Griffin, but they should be the right side for pick ‘em purposes, as they could take advantage of the Rams looking forward and make this tougher than it should be.
Los Angeles Rams 26 Jacksonville Jaguars 14
Pick against the spread: Jacksonville +13