Disclaimer: the tease is already dead after TNFS (Thursday Night Fuck Show). That said, I’ll write the second half anyway in case you are betting these straight.
Los Angeles Rams @ New Orleans Saints
Vegas: NO -1.5
DomModel: NO + 2.483
Recommendation: LAR +1.5 (teased to 7.5)
Los Angeles Rams:
-WR Cooper Kupp (knee) was injured week 6 and did not return. He was INACTIVE week 7 and 8. He was limited in practice on Wednesday (10/31) and Thursday (11/1). He is expected to play.
-CB Aqib Talib suffered a high ankle sprain during week 3 and was then placed on IR. He should be back in Decemberish.
New Orleans Saints:
-WR Ted Ginn (knee) is on IR.
-RB Alvin Kamara (illness) did not practice on Thursday (11/1). He should be fine.
-DE Marcus Davenport (toe) did not practice Wednesday (10/31) and Thursday (11/1).
-CB Patrick Robinson injured his ankle during his week 3 game and will be on IR.
When Los Angeles has the ball:
The Rams high powered offense rolls into the Superdome getting key WR Cooper Kupp back. It’s especially important for a Rams team that ran 11 personnel (1 RB, 1 TE, 3 WR) on 95% of snaps in Cooper Kupp games.
The Rams offense is easy to breakdown. They are awesome everywhere. Per PFF, Jared Goff has the 2nd best QB rating in the league from a clean pocket (Mahomes is first). Clean pocket data tends to be more stable than under pressure data, so it’s an important piece to monitor for QB play. The offensive line is one of the best in the league. They have one of the best wide receiver trio in the league (Kupp, Cooks, and Woods). Oh, and they also have this Todd Gurley guy. Gurley is outstanding, but it almost doesn’t matter. The Rams frequency of playing 11 means they are playing almost exclusively against defenses designed to defend the pass (and are therefore susceptible against the run). That, combined with the Rams incredible offensive line, has lead to Gurley legit walking into the end zone at times.
Ben has tons of other examples on his twitter feed. It’s good to be Todd Gurley.
New Orleans defense:
Though the Saints were arguable a top 5 defense last year, they’ve taken a major step back this year. They particularly struggle against the pass, where they rank 29th in DVOA. That starts with the pass rush — Cam Jordan has been the only player able to generate consistent pressure. It ends with their coverage (or lack thereof). Marshon Lattimore is sophomore slumping like you read about, Ken Crawley has struggled immensely, and slot corner Patrick Robinson is out for the year.
The Saints do play well against the run, but if you can’t defend the pass in 2018, you can’t defend.
TL;DR Conclusion: The Rams in a dome against this defense is going to lead to some serious points (more on that later).
When New Orleans has the ball:
The Saints offense is top 5 worthy. It starts up front, where they have one of the better lines in the league. Drew Brees is two months away from 40 and is still at the top of his game (how come nobody talks about the DB9 method?). Their running game features a two headed monster in Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram. Kamara and Ingram are unique because one isn’t necessarily fitted to a certain role, they’re both just really, really good. At receiver, Michael Thomas is naturally one of the better players in the game, but keep an eye on Tre’Quan Smith. Smith is a talented rookie out of Central Florida who’s playing time has increased over the last few games, especially now that Ted Ginn is out for the year.
Los Angeles’s defense:
Though at times the Rams defense has shown weaknesses, on a play by play basis they’ve been solid. Let’s start with Aaron Donald. This guys level of play is absolutely insane. He plays defensive tackle, but still leads the league in pressures (54) and sacks (10). That’s despite the fact that he rushes the passer far less frequently than you’re typically edge guy. Oh, and also this.
Aaron Donald is the most dominant player in the NFL. It isn’t even close. If you’re watching this game Sunday (and I hope you are), specifically just watch Donald. You will be amazed.
Anyway, yeah, about the other 10 games. The Rams defense as a unit ranks 6th best in pass defense DVOA despite missing Aqib Talib. Without question, that’s related to the pressure Aaron Donald brings. Shit, I told myself I’d stop talking about Aaron Donald. I can’t help it. He’s really good. The rams also brought in DE Dante Fowler from the Jaguars, who I discussed in more detail here.
The Rams have struggled against the run this year (26th in DVOA). I have to stop now or I’m just going to keep talking about Aaron Donald.
TL:DR Conclusion: I hope you got on this one early, because the spread has moved significantly to the Rams, who are now favored by a point. This game has a total of SIXTY (60) points. Basically, both offenses will smash, but we prefer the Rams.
Sorry, that slipped out.
Onto the final game
Los Angeles Chargers @ Seattle Seahawks
Vegas: SEA -1.5
DomModel: SEA +0.011
Recommendation: LAC +1.5
Los Angeles Chargers: (week 8 bye)
-RB Melvin Gordon (hamstring) was a surprise INACTIVE week 7. He was limited in practice on Wednesday (10/31) and Thursday (11/1). He is expected to return week 9.
-DE Joey Bosa was INACTIVE every week with a foot injury. He is out “indefinitely.”
-LB Kyzir White (knee) is was INACTIVE weeks 5 – 7. He did not practice Wednesday (10/31) and Thursday (11/1).
-TE Will Dissly (knee) is out for the season after injuring it week 4.
-DT Shamar Stephen (foot) did not practice on Wednesday (10/31) and Thursday (11/1).
-DE Rasheem Green (ankle) was INACTIVE weeks 4 -8. He is practicing in full, and therefore should return week 9.
-LB K.J. Wright (knee) was INACTIVE weeks 1-7. He returned week 8, but did not practice on Wednesday (10/31) and Thursday (11/1). He was a full participant before he returned week 8, so there’s likely something new going on that could cause him to miss more time.
-S Earl Thomas (leg) is out for the season after injuring it week 4.
When Los Angeles has the ball:
The Chargers offense comes into this game off a bye ranked 3rd in offensive DVOA. Philip Rivers is playing a classic Rivers season – he won’t dazzle you on the field, but he plays well overall and doesn’t make many mistakes. The weak spot has been the offensive line, they’ve mostly struggled this year, but are at least rounding into form health wise.
We got bit in the ass week 7 when Melvin Gordon ended up being a surprise inactive. Gordon had the bye week to recover and has been limited this week. These spots are tough to predict, but I’m going to say he should be good to go. Austin Ekeler has been playing second fiddle to Gordon for the last two years, and he’s played well. That said, he struggled week 7 against the Titans when he was asked to take on an expanded role.
For weapons, Rivers has plenty. Keenan Allen mostly plays out of the slot, and is yet again a top receiver in the league. Both Williams’s (Mike and Tyrell) are playing well to compliment Allen, and the Chargers have been able to use both backs with success in the passing game.
Let’s review the Seahawks losses from last year:
DE Michael Bennett (Eagles)
DE Cliff Avril (injured/cut)
SS Kam Chancellor (retired/PUP)
CB Richard Sherman (49ers)
DT Sheldon Richardson (Vikings)
CB Byron Maxwell (IR)
On top of that, they lost FS Earl Thomas week 4 (leg) and have been without KJ Wright (knee scope) for most of the year. Wright returned last week, but he’s back to not practicing. So the Seahwaks defense must suck, right?
They come into today’s game ranked 4th in defensive DVOA, and have been both solid against the pass (3rd) and run (6th). Who could have seen that coming?!
I did find one man who said this about the Seahawks going into the season: “yes, the Seahawks lost a lot of players. That’s what most making bets right now are focusing on, but what people aren’t realizing is the Seahawks have been building for this for some time and have talent on defense. I think this defense ends up being in the told half of the league, and that’s much better then the betting market likely thinks.”
Oh wait, that wise man was me. I was much higher on them then most, and I still underrated them.
This entire thing has just been a brag. And yes, we’re betting against them. Moving on!
TL;DR Conclusion: This should be a hell of a matchup. The high powered Chargers take on a Seahawks team is playing at a level that nobody — except me — but also not even me — saw coming.
When Seattle has the ball:
Russell Wilson is back to being one of the top quarterbacks in the league. Not that anybody is surprised. The problem, as it’s been since they traded away center Max Unger to Jimmy Graham in 2015, is their offensive line blows.
After selecting Rashaad Penny in the first round, the Seahawks have logically not played him much at all. Jokes aside, they’ve relied on Chris Carson because he’s playing extremely well and can handle the workload.
Their top receiving options are slot receiver Doug Baldwin and Tyler Lockett. Lockett scores a touchdown every game, which is a unique skill.
All in all, it’s a middle of the road offense.
Los Angeles’s defense:
It might be just because it’s the end of the article, but I’m having a hard time figuring out what to say about the Chargers defense. They’re just so.. meh.
It hurts badly that they are still without star DE Joey Bosa. Though it’s true that they still have Melvin Ingram and he’s playing well, teams are able to specifically scheme toward stopping him. They really just don’t have that many playmakers along their defensive line. When Bosa returns, it could be a game changer.. but that aint happening Sunday.
As for the seconadry: second year CB Desmond King has stepped up after Jason Verett went down pre-season (sigh.. again). Casey Hayward was one of the top corners in the league last year, but his play has dipped off this year. Derwin James anchors the unit at safety, and plays incredibly well there.
There’s some bright spots, but it’s just a middle of the road, ok defense all around.
TL:DR Conclusion: To me, it looks like an even/solid matchup. The model agrees, essentially pricing this as a pick em. We’ll take the team with the points.
That’s it for now, bitches.