Denver Broncos at Los Angeles Rams: 2022 Week 16 NFL Pick

Denver Broncos (4-10) at Los Angeles Rams (4-10)

A week ago on the early line, the Rams were favored by 1 point at home in this matchup against the Denver Broncos, but this line has since switched to favor the Broncos by a field goal, a significant swing, given that 1 in 4 games are decided by three points or fewer, with 1 in 6 games decided by exactly a field goal. That’s probably because the Rams lost by 12 to the Packers, while the Broncos beat the Cardinals by 9, but the Cardinals are one of the worst teams in the league right now because of all of their injuries, while the Packers have been significantly better this season at home than on the road, so neither of those results were that surprising, nor should they have caused a line movement like this.

Some of that line movement might be because Russell Wilson will play for the Broncos this week and there may have been some uncertainty about that last week, but it looked pretty clear that Wilson’s absence would be a one-game absence, so I’m not sure if that’s the case, and Wilson hasn’t played well enough this season for his return to trigger this kind of line movement anyway. Also, if this line had stayed where it was a week ago and Wilson didn’t play, the Rams would still be a good value, as the Rams are a noticeably better team than the Broncos when the Broncos have to turn to underwhelming backup Brett Rypien. 

With Wilson back, I have these two teams close to even, with the Broncos possessing a one-point edge in my roster rankings, giving us a calculated line between even and Rams -1, so we’re getting good value with the Rams as home underdogs of a full field goal. The Rams have had an equally disappointing season as the Broncos and, like the Broncos, injuries have been a big part of the reason why, but they at least have a more capable quarterback and left tackle than they did earlier in the season, since adding Baker Mayfield and Ty Nsekhe mid-season. 

If they didn’t have those two players, they wouldn’t be that interesting of a bet, but those two give them competent players at key offensive positions that they didn’t have a few weeks ago and their defense has remained solid all season, so it’s surprising to see them still be home underdogs of a field goal against another one of the worst teams in the league. The Rams are still a bad team, so I don’t want to go crazy with this play, but I think they’re bettable this week, both against the spread and on the money line.

Los Angeles Rams 17 Denver Broncos 16 Upset Pick +145

Pick against the spread: LA Rams +3

Confidence: Medium

Los Angeles Rams at Green Bay Packers: 2022 Week 15 NFL Pick

Los Angeles Rams (4-9) at Green Bay Packers (5-8)

The Packers are a disappointing 5-8, a year after finishing 13-4, but in some ways it’s not that surprising. Despite their record last season, the Packers finished just 10th in point differential and 11th in overall efficiency, even with an MVP season from Aaron Rodgers who, as good as he is, was no guarantee to play at quite the same level in 2022, now in his age 39 season. Add in the loss of by far their top wide receiver Davante Adams this off-season and some regression was to be expected from them, especially on offense.

In many ways, things have gone how you might expect, given the circumstances. The Packers’ defense has declined slightly due to injuries, ranking 17th in defensive efficiency in 2021 and 25th in 2022, while their offense has fallen off significantly, falling from 4th in offensive efficiency a year ago to 16th this season, while their horrendous special teams that ranked dead last in efficiency a year ago has only been slightly better this year, ranking 29th. All in all, the Packers rank just 24th in the NFL in overall efficiency when adjusted for schedule, about 3.5 points below average.

The Packers have been overrated for much of the season, but that doesn’t seem to be the case any more and, in fact, I think we’re getting good value with them here at home as 7-point favorites against the lowly Rams. As much as they’ve struggled this season, the Packers are 3-2 in Lambeau, as opposed to 2-6 away from home and that’s nothing new, as Aaron Rodgers has a QB rating that is 10 points better in his career, significantly above average, and, as a result, is 48-22 ATS at home in games he starts and finishes. 

The Rams are also in a bad spot, as they could be flat after such a big comeback win last week against the Raiders, pulling a big upset in the process. Historically, teams cover at just a 42.1% rate after a home win as underdogs of five points or more, as it’s tough to bring that kind of energy two weeks in a row. Even though they’re an underwhelming team, the Packers are still significantly better than the injury plagued Rams and, when you consider the homefield advantage the Packers have, they should be favored by even more than a touchdown, especially with the Rams in a bad spot. I am hoping this line will drop to 6.5 before gametime, so I am leaving this as a low confidence pick at 7 for now, but I may ultimately end up betting on the Packers even at 7.

Green Bay Packers 23 Los Angeles Rams 13

Pick against the spread: Green Bay -7

Confidence: Low

Las Vegas Raiders at Los Angeles Rams: 2022 Week 14 NFL Pick

Las Vegas Raiders (5-7) at Los Angeles Rams (3-9)

The Raiders have won three straight after a 2-7 start, but that’s not as big of a shift as you might think, as six of their seven losses came up one score, while their three recent wins have also been one score games. In total, the Raiders have played 9 of 12 games within one score this season and 10 of 12 within single digits. The difference recently is just that they have managed to win their close games, after losing so many early in the season. With so many close games on their schedule, you might think I am going away from the Raiders this week as 6-point road favorites in Los Angeles against the Rams, but I still think they’re the better side, for a few reasons. 

For one, the Rams’ current injury situation makes them one of the worst teams in the league. Already without a pair of starting offensive linemen from last year’s team after off-season departures, the Rams have since lost another three starting offensive linemen due to injury, as well as their starting quarterback Matt Stafford, his two best wide receivers, most notably Cooper Kupp, who was arguably the best receiver in the league a year ago, and their top defensive player Aaron Donald, who is also arguably the best in the league at his position. 

As injuries have piled up, the Rams have lost six straight, including four by margins that would have covered this spread, with three of those losses being at home. The Raiders are an average at best team that plays a lot of close games, but the Rams are the type of team that even the Raiders shouldn’t have too much trouble with, similar to their multi-score victories over the Texans and Broncos. Also, even though the Raiders have played a lot of games, they have played at least somewhat better in recent weeks, turning their close losses into close wins, and better health on defense is a key part of the reason why, with top cornerback Nate Hobbs and top linebacker Denzel Perryman now back in the lineup.

The Rams also can’t expect much help from their homefield advantage this week. Since moving to Los Angeles in 2016, the Rams have had a pretty limited homefield advantage, with fans supporting the road team frequently showing up in large numbers, leading to the Rams going 31-25 at home (24-29-3 ATS), as opposed to 35-23 on the road (29-27-2 ATS) sincere moving. The crowd should especially be a problem for the Rams in this game, with their season effectively over at 3-9 and with the Raiders being a former Los Angeles team that still has a lot of support in the area. I would expect the majority of fans at this game to be Raiders fans. There isn’t nearly enough here to be confident enough in the Raiders to bet on them, but they should be the right side for pick ‘em purposes, as they should win this game by at least a full touchdown.

Las Vegas Raiders 20 Los Angeles Rams 13

Pick against the spread: Las Vegas -6

Confidence: Low

Seattle Seahawks at Los Angeles Rams: 2022 Week 13 NFL Pick

Seattle Seahawks (6-5) at Los Angeles Rams (3-8)

It’s hard to remember a team declining as much the year after winning the Super Bowl as the now 3-8 Rams, but it’s also hard to remember a team losing as many key players to injury as the Rams have this year. Already without a pair of starting offensive linemen from last year’s team after off-season departures, the Rams have since lost the other three due to injury, as well as their starting quarterback Matt Stafford and his two best wide receivers, most notably Cooper Kupp, who was arguably the best receiver in the league a year ago. 

Their injury issues aren’t slowing down either, as they have now spread to the defensive side of the ball, which was previously mostly intact and playing at an above average level, having lost Von Miller in free agency, but having added Bobby Wagner to compensate. Most notably the Rams will be without Aaron Donald for the first time this season this week, which is a huge deal, as he’s still arguably the most valuable defensive player in the league, and they could also be without talented starting linebacker Ernest Jones and starting cornerback Troy Hill as well, who are both legitimately questionable and could be held out on a Rams team going nowhere.

The Seahawks are giving a lot of points here on the road as 7-point favorites, but the Rams are in such bad shape that this line isn’t high enough, with the Seahawks at least being somewhat above average as a team. The Rams also don’t have much homefield advantage in Los Angeles and are likely to be playing in front of a crowd that mostly favors the Seahawks in this game, especially with the Rams effectively out of it at this point in the season. The Seahawks should win this game with ease, so even at -7 they’re worth a bet.

Seattle Seahawks 24 Los Angeles Rams 13

Pick against the spread: Seattle -7

Confidence: Medium

Los Angeles Rams at Kansas City Chiefs: 2022 Week 12 NFL Pick

Los Angeles Rams (3-7) at Kansas City Chiefs (8-2)

Entering the season as defending Super Bowl Champions, few expected the Rams would be 15.5-point underdogs at any point this season, but that’s where we’re at right now, due to all of the injuries suffered by the Rams’ offense. Already missing a pair of starting offensive linemen from last year’s team due to off-season departures, the Rams have lost the other three starting offensive linemen from last year’s team mid-season due to injuries, while starting quarterback Matt Stafford and his elite #1 receiver Cooper Kupp are also out, leaving the Rams with arguably the least talented offense in the NFL.

The Rams’ defense is still mostly intact, losing Von Miller this off-season, but adding another stud linebacker in Bobby Wagner, staying mostly healthy, and ranking 12th in schedule adjusted defensive efficiency. However, even with an above average defense, I have the Rams nine points below average in my roster rankings and, with the Rams in Kansas City this week, it’s not hard to justify this line, even as high as it is. If anything, it might not be high enough.

At 8-2, the Chiefs have the best record in the AFC, which is the tougher of the two conferences, and they are arguably the best team in the league overall, ranking seven points above average in schedule adjusted efficiency and nine points above average in my roster rankings, suggesting this line should be closer to -20 than -15.5. This line is too big for the Chiefs to be worth betting, but I don’t see this game being particularly close, with the Rams fielding an offense that is made up of almost entirely backups at this point, so the Chiefs are the better side for pick ‘em purposes.

Kansas City Chiefs 28 Los Angeles Rams 10

Pick against the spread: Kansas City -15.5

Confidence: Low

Los Angeles Rams at New Orleans Saints: 2022 Week 11 NFL Pick

Los Angeles Rams (3-6) at New Orleans Saints (3-6)

Both of these teams are 3-6 and have serious injury problems, among the worst in the league. The Rams will get quarterback Matt Stafford back from a one-game absence with a concussion, but he’ll return to a team that lost arguably the best wide receiver in the league in Cooper Kupp to injury and that is without a trio of starting offensive linemen, left tackle Joe Noteboom, left guard David Edwards, and center Brian Allen from what was already a shaky offensive line entering the season. The Rams’ defense still remains an above average unit, but the absence of their best offensive player and three key offensive linemen has left their offense well below average.

The Saints, meanwhile, have injury problems on both sides of the ball. On offense, they will be without top wide receiver Michael Thomas, starting left tackle James Hurst, and starting center Erik McCoy, while their defense will be without top cornerback Marshon Lattimore, talented starting linebacker Pete Werner, and their stud edge defender duo of Cameron Jordan and Marcus Davenport. The Saints have a one-point edge in schedule adjusted efficiency and a one-point edge in my roster rankings, but they’re also field goal favorites at home, which is about what they should be. My numbers suggest the Saints are slightly more likely to cover at this number, but this is a no confidence pick and a push is a likely outcome, given that one in six games are decided by exactly three points.

New Orleans Saints 20 Los Angeles Rams 17

Pick against the spread: New Orleans -3

Confidence: None

Arizona Cardinals at Los Angeles Rams: 2022 Week 10 NFL Pick

Arizona Cardinals (3-6) at Los Angeles Rams (3-5)

This game is complicated because both teams have quarterbacks questionable due to injury. In the Rams case, Matt Stafford seems highly unlikely to be able to clear the concussion protocol in time to start this week, while Cardinals’ quarterback Kyler Murray could play, but would likely be severely limited mobility wise due to his hamstring injury, in which case the Cardinals may be better off resting Murray and playing serviceable backup Colt McCoy. The Rams also have a serviceable backup in John Wolford, who is likely to be a significant downgrade from Stafford, who is struggling by his standards this season.

Murray is also struggling by his standards this season and, overall, both of these teams have mediocre offenses to begin with, as the Rams rank 20th and the Cardinals rank 21st in schedule adjusted offensive efficiency. The difference between these two teams is on defense, where the Rams rank 10th in schedule adjusted efficiency and the Cardinals rank 26th. The Cardinals are 3-6, but they have actually been one of the worst teams in the league overall this season, benefitting from a +3 turnover margin, which is not predictive, and still struggling to win games, in large part due to their 29th ranked overall schedule adjusted efficiency, which is much more predictive. Overall, they are 5 points below average in schedule adjusted efficiency, about 3.5 points worse than the Rams.

Both teams have mediocre offenses with injured quarterbacks, but the Rams are still the clearly better team overall due to their defense. Despite that, the Rams are only favored by 1.5 points at home in this game, suggesting these two teams are about even. My calculated line has them favored by 5, so there is enough here for the Rams to be worth betting, even with the uncertainty around both teams’ quarterback situations. There aren’t many games that are worth betting this week, so the Rams are actually going to be my Pick of the Week, largely by default, without another good option.

Los Angeles Rams 20 Arizona Cardinals 13

Pick against the spread: LA Rams -1.5

Confidence: Pick of the Week

Los Angeles Rams at Tampa Bay Buccaneers: 2022 Week 9 NFL Pick

Los Angeles Rams (3-4) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-5)

This is a matchup of the previous two Super Bowl winners and a rematch of a divisional round game from a year ago when the eventual champion Rams barely got the best of the Buccaneers, in a matchup between a 12-win Rams team and a 13-win Buccaneers team. However, going into this matchup, both teams have disappointed significantly this season, with both teams sitting below .500, the Rams at 3-4 and the Buccaneers at 3-5.

The Buccaneers got off to a 2-0 start, but their offense has been middling at best all season, ranking 21st in schedule adjusted offensive efficiency, while their dominant defense that lead them to their first two victories has not been nearly as good since, in large part due to key injury absences, which will continue this week, with stud safety Antoine Winfield and top edge defender Shaq Barrett out for this game, among others. The Buccaneers offense is probably better than they’ve played so far, but they’re not the same in the receiving corps and on the offensive line as they’ve been in recent years and quarterback Tom Brady is starting to show his age, even if only a little bit, with a less impressive supporting cast.

The Rams, on the other hand, have been middling on both sides of the ball for most of the season, falling from 9th in schedule adjusted offensive efficiency in 2021 to 16th this season and falling from 9th to 12th on defense. Their offensive problems largely stem from the off-season losses of wide receiver Odell Beckham and offensive linemen Andrew Whitworth and Austin Corbett, but they’ve also had further injuries on the offensive line that have made things worse. On defense, their dropoff has not been as pronounced, as they do seem to be feeling the effects of losing top edge defender Von Miller this off-season.

Overall, I have both teams about even in my roster rankings, which makes this a tough call. I have the Buccaneers as slightly better and this line favoring them by a field goal is what you would expect when a home team is slightly better than the road team, but my numbers have the Rams slightly more likely to cover at this number than the Buccaneers, so I am taking them for pick ‘em purposes. There’s obviously not nearly enough here to bet on either side though and a push might be the most likely outcome, given that the most likely outcome when two evenly matched teams play is the home team winning by a field goal.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers 23 Los Angeles Rams 20

Pick against the spread: LA Rams +3

Confidence: None

San Francisco 49ers at Los Angeles Rams: 2022 Week 8 NFL Pick

San Francisco 49ers (3-4) at Los Angeles Rams (3-3)

The 49ers added Christian McCaffrey to an already talented roster last week and figure to feature him in something resembling a full role this week, giving the 49ers among the most top level talent in the league, but they also have had consistent injury problems all season, which, along with underwhelming quarterback play, is why they sit at 3-4. Players like edge defender Nick Bosa, tight end George Kittle, left tackle Trent Williams, and safety Jimmie Ward have all missed time with injury and have since returned this season, but this week they’ll be without top wide receiver Deebo Samuel, talented linebacker Dre Greenlaw, stud defensive linemen Arik Armstead, and starting cornerback Emmanuel Mosley.

The Rams have also disappointed in part due to injury, but they do get some reinforcements out of the bye week, with wide receiver Van Jefferson and center Brian Allen returning to action. I still have the 49ers a point and a half better than the Rams overall, which ordinarily would give us some line value with the Rams as 1-point home underdogs, but the Rams probably won’t have much homefield advantage in this game against the 49ers, whose fans outnumber the Rams significantly and who will travel for this game. With that in mind, this line is about right, but I’m still taking the Rams, if only for a no confidence pick, because they’ve had a little bit more time to prepare.

Los Angeles Rams 24 San Francisco 49ers 23

Pick against the spread: LA Rams +1

Confidence: None

Carolina Panthers at Los Angeles Rams: 2022 Week 6 NFL Pick

Carolina Panthers (1-4) at Los Angeles Rams (2-3)

The Panthers came into this season with some hope of being better on offense, adding quarterback Baker Mayfield and overhauling the offensive line in front of him, after finishing the 2021 season ranked 29th in offensive efficiency. Their defense ranked 4th in efficiency last season, and, while they didn’t look quite as talented on defense going into this season, they still seemed to have an above average unit on that side of the ball, so if they had a somewhat decent offense, the Panthers could have been a competitive team this season. 

Carolina’s defense has mostly held up its end of the bargain, ranking 10th in schedule adjusted efficiency, but their offense has been arguably worse than a year ago, ranking dead last in schedule adjusted efficiency. Things went from bad to worse for the Panthers last week when they were blown out at home by the 49ers in a game in which Baker Mayfield got hurt and after which head coach Matt Rhule was fired, meaning the Panthers will have a completely different head coach/quarterback combination this week than they did a week ago. It’s unclear if that will help though and it actually could make things worse. 

Rhule was definitely overmatched as head coach, but interim head coach Steve Wilks does not have a good track record leading a team and their offense problems will remain, with Wilks being a defensive coach and Ben McAdoo still in charge on offense. Meanwhile, as badly as Mayfield has played, backup PJ Walker has proven to be completely overmatched whenever he’s been forced into action in the past and at ont point this off-season he was the Panthers’ 4th quarterback, before injuries to Mayfield, Sam Darnold, and Matt Corral. 

The Panthers are also in a tough spot in Los Angeles against a Rams team that has a bye on deck, with big home favorites covering the spread at a high rate before their bye week, doing so at a 62.9% rate all-time as home favorites of 6 points or more. That trend would seem to apply, with the Rams being favored by 10 points, but, even with all of the problems the Panthers have, I think the Rams are overvalued at that number, as they have their own offensive problems, having lost several starters from last year’s Super Bowl team, due to injuries and free agency. 

The Panthers still have a strong defense, especially with safety Xavier Woods back from a one-game absence, so it’s really hard to trust the Rams as double digit favorites in what figures to be a low scoring game, even with the head coach and quarterback issues the Panthers have and even with the Rams in a good spot. I can’t have any confidence in the Panthers either, but they seem like the better side for pick ‘em purposes, with my calculated line only favoring the offense challenged Rams by 6.

Los Angeles Rams 19 Carolina Panthers 10

Pick against the spread: Carolina +10

Confidence: None