Recommended Wager: LA Rams (-4.0) over Miami

LA Rams @ Miami
Wager: LAR -4.0
Strength: 4.41

Key Injuries:
Los Angeles Rams: (Week 9 bye)
-TE Tyler Higbee (hand) was INACTIVE week 7. He was questionable ahead of week 7 and got in a limited session at practice.
IR: LG Joe Noteboom (calf — short term), DT A’Shawn Robinson (undisclosed), DT Ogbonnia Okoronkwo (elbow), OLB Tarrell Lewis (knee), S Terrell Burgess (ankle – season ending)

Miami Dolphins: (Week 7 bye)
-WR DeVanter Parker (groin) was injured week 6. He is limited in practice.
-DE Andrew Van Ginkel (concussion) was injured week 6. He is practicing in full and should play.
-DT Raekwon Davis (shoulder) was injured week 6. He is limited in practice.
-LB Kyle Van Noy (groin) was INACTIVE week 6 after being limited/questionable. He remains limited in practice.
IR: WR Albert Wilson (opt out), WR Antonio Callways (suspension till week 8), Vince Biegel (Achilles), LT Austin Jackson (foot)

Spread watching: The line opened at 3.5 and was bet up to 4, which is where the model grabbed in. It’s back down to 3.5. The model indicates a strength of 4.41, meaning it thinks the 4 point spread is off by 4.41 points.

Matchup breakdown:
When the Rams have the ball
The Rams offense has been highly efficient this year, ranking 5th in DVOA and 9th in EPA/play. Jared Goff is back to the 2018 version of himself – he’s completing 67.7% of his passes, good for 8.0 yards per attempt and an 80.3 PFF grade. The biggest difference, in my view, is thanks to an offensive line that was dreadful last year but is arguably a top 10 unit this year. Stats measuring a QBs play under pressure tend to be noisy, but Goff always is one of the worst QBs in football in those areas and doesn’t get rid of the ball particularly quickly (average 2.59 seconds to throw), so he relies on a solid offensive line more than others. They have a solid receiving core between Cooper Kupp, Robert Woods, and Josh Reynolds. Reynolds came on strong last Monday, grabbing 4 balls on 8 targets for 52 yards and a touchdown. On the ground, the Rams are 1st in DVOA and 8th in EPA/play – they’ll be lead by Darrell Henderson and Malcolm Brown, both of whom are averaging over 4 yards per carry.

The Rams are facing a Dolphins defense that is carrying a rank of 14th in DVOA and 12th in EPA/play. They have a decent enough pass rush between Emmanuel Ogbah (25 pressures) and Shaq Lawson (15 in 5 games), but that’s about where the superlatives end and they’ll have a tough matchup against the Rams offensive line. From a coverage standpoint, Byron Jones has been a massive let down. Nik Needham, who covers the slot, has a PFF coverage grade of 41.5 and QBs have a 105.4 rating when targeting him. Xavien Howard, to his credit, has been a bright spot on the defense and has been making life difficult for opposing receivers. Even with Howard’s play, the Rams have enough weapons to take advantage of the holes in the Dolphins secondary. Further, the Dolphins are dead last in run defense DVOA, so that should be another massive mismatch in favor of the Rams.

When the Dolphins have the ball:
The big news ahead of Miami’s week 7 bye was Tua Tagovailoa starting over Ryan Fitzpatrick. It’ll be Tua’s first competitive game since a pretty brutal hip injury last November. One thing Ryan Fitzpatrick was very good at is mitigating the horribleness that is the offensive line by getting rid of the ball quickly. Fitzy averages 2.23 seconds to throw, which is second fastest in the league behind Big Ben. In college, Tua averaged 2.56 seconds to throw, and the scouting report on him is he definitely prefers to hold onto the ball. (Seinfeld voice) Not that there’s anything wrong with that — guys like Russ Wilson, Pat Mahomes, and Deshaun Watson hold onto the ball with success — but when you’re playing behind 5 revolving doors and against Aaron Donald, I could see the Rams making life difficult for Tua. The receiving core had a slight scare when DeVante Parker went down before the bye, but since he’s limited at practice I’d expect him to play. Parker (39 targets), RB Myles Gaskin (29), TE Mike Gesicki (28), WR Isaiah Ford (26), and WR Preston Williams (23) have been Fitzpatrick’s favorite targets so far. The receiving core has been surprisingly solid for the Dolphins this year. On the ground, Myles Gaskin has done what he can, but there’s simply only so much a running back can do behind that line. The ‘fins ground game ranks 23rd in DVOA.

The Rams on defense are 11th in DVOA and 2nd in EPA/play. Football Outsider’s ranks the Rams defense as having the easiest schedule of opposing offenses, so I think that explains the difference in the two metrics. As most should know by now, Aaron Donald is a one man wrecking crew – he’s up to 45 pressures on the season, most in the league. Leonard Floyd (19 pressures) and Michael Brockers (15) are solid complementary options — together they give the Rams the 6th best PFF pass rush grade in the NFL. On the back end, CB Jalen Ramsey and Darious Williams have had solid seasons, but Troy Hill and the safeties have struggled. The Rams are also fairly weak at linebacker and rank just 18th in DVOA against the run – but again, the Dolphins line is so bad I can’t see it being an issue.

Sorry Tua, I hope you’re first NFL start goes horribly.

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