Philadelphia Eagles at Los Angeles Rams (-2, 48 O/U), courtesy Bovada.
Los Angeles Rams: 9-3 SU (8-4 ATS), 1st NFC West
Philadelphia Eagles: 10-2 SU (9-3 ATS), 1st NFC East
Dominique Easley (knee), out; Temarrick Hemingway (leg), out; Cody Davis (thigh), out; Lamarcus Joyner (hamstring), questionable; Trumaine Johnson (concussion), questionable; Malcolm Brown (knee), questionable; Kayvon Webster (concussion), questionable; Connor Barwin (arm), questionable; Robert Woods (shoulder), questionable; Alec Ogletree (elbow), questionable
Chris Maragos (knee), out; Caleb Sturgis (hip), out; Donnel Pumphrey (hamstring), out; Darren Sproles (knee), out; Jordan Hicks (achilles), out; Jason Peters (knee), out; Sidney Jones (achilles), out; Jaylen Watkins (hamstring), questionable; Patrick Robinson (concussion), probable; Zach Ertz (concussion), probable
Oct 5, 2014: Philadelphia Eagles 35, St. Louis Rams 28
No other meetings in the last five years.
Significant Betting Trends
Philadelphia is 8-1 ATS in its last nine games.
The total has gone UNDER in four of Philadelphia’s last five games.
LA is 6-1 ATS in its last seven games.
The total has gone UNDER in four of LA’s last six games.
The Eagles and Rams are the top two teams in the NFC, a remarkable turnaround for the Eagles and nothing short of a miracle for the Rams. That this matchup is America’s Game of the Week is something only the most hipster NFL fans would have picked before the season started. Both teams are first in their respective divisions, with the Rams currently holding down the third seed in the conference and the Eagles trailing only first-place Minnesota on tiebreakers. Philly can clinch the NFC East title with a win this weekend.
Despite what you’ve heard about Carson Wentz and Jared Goff being saviors, the best unit on the field will be Philadelphia’s defense. They’re third in the league in weighted DVOA, which measures efficiency on a per-play-basis, behind only Baltimore and Jacksonville, two teams with entirely defensive identities and below-average offenses. The Rams aren’t far behind on defense, sitting fourth in DVOA, although they aren’t quite as balanced as Philadelphia.
LA’s rush defense is worth worrying about. LeGarrette Blount and Jay Ajayi are a decent enough combo, and LA is 21st in the league against the run and somewhat struggling. Look for Wentz to get easier looks on 3rd-and-manageable than he needs. Second-and-short won’t be sustainable for LA.
A winning scenario for LA involves Jared Goff and the fourth-ranked passing attack in the NFL tearing big, ugly holes in the Eagle secondary. That won’t be easy, the Philadelphia secondary went from really good to great with the return of Ronald Darby, and is one of the most efficient pass defenses in the league. There’s no doubt that the Rams have the potential to put up a lot of yards through the air, particularly on check-downs to Todd Gurley, but it’s far from the most likely scenario. Despite what all the hype around this game wants you to believe, it’s more likely that it will be decided by players other than Goff and Wentz.
The dynamic of a flashy young quarterback paired with a stifling defense explains why both these teams have been hitting the under so consistently in recent weeks. Bettors are attracted by all the buzz around Goff and Wentz, a fair portion of which is generated by their age and potential rather than their production on the field, and ignore just how good these two defenses are. They forget that the other team has to do its part for a game to hit the over. This game will likely be promoted as a matchup between two quarterbacks touted to be the future of the NFL. If they were each five years older, it would likely be a “defensive showdown” or something similar.
The Rams were a consistent value bet for a while, as the Jeff Fisher hangover and concern about a head coach still wet from childbirth wore off. Now though, as one of the most-hyped teams anywhere in the league, and in a game against a similarly exciting, young team, I think we’ve reached a turning point. Rams/Eagles is going to be a fantastic game, deserving of its title as the game of the week, and if there’s anything between these teams, it favors the underdogs.
With both team’s history of hitting the under, and with the strong defenses both teams will field, it makes sense to take the under.
Pick: Eagles (+2) and UNDER (48)