The season is already almost at its end. There are just a few weeks of regular-season NFL football left.
We saw a host of things last week. Aaron Rodgers threw his 400th TD pass, cementing himself in the record books. We also saw the Cleveland Browns prove that they are a legit wild card contender with their victory over the Tennessee Titans.
But what about Week 14? Are there any valuable plays on the board early in the week?
New England Patriots @ Los Angeles Rams -6
The Rams are listed as six-point favorites on the NFL odds boards in this Thursday afternoon tilt. But, Are they getting just a bit too much love from the bookmakers?
The Patriots just put on an amazing offensive display against a tough LA Chargers defense that has challenged the best of teams this season. They shut the Chargers out, 45-0 on Sunday. And the previous game, they beat the Arizona Cardinals as underdogs in the affair. On the flip side, the Rams played the Cardinals in Week 13 and put up 38 points, winning by 10. So, if we use the Cardinals as a constant, the Rams are 7-points better than the Pats.
Ok. But that not necessarily true. The NE Patriots are rated 1.8 with their power ratings, and the LA Rams, 3.8. This leaves the Rams as two points better against an average team in a neutral setting. However, the Rams are at home, so we have to give them three points. This helps us establish an initial point spread of five points.
The LA Rams are giving away 6 points, so is there some value in taking the Patriots here?
Well, it depends. If we go by ESPN, they have the Rams at 5.7, which would mean that the Rams are actually one point under-valued.
Stats, Stats, Stats
The Patriots score roughly 23 points per game –22.83. The Rams average 25 per game. But while at home, the Rams have only managed to score 20.80 per game. Conversely, the Pats score 26 per game on the road.
Defensively speaking, both teams are in the same ballpark. The PAts allow 21.25 per game against the Rams 20.25. So, LA is a full point better, but they are both Top-10 defensive teams at No. 5 and No. 7. Here is the rub, though. The Rams play phenomenal home defense. They allow just 15 points per game in Los Angeles, which is the best in the league. Conversely, the New England Patriots are No. 12 on the road. Their highway defense allows 23.17 per game, primarily due to a No. 23 ranked road secondary.
The interesting thing is, the Rams have the No. 10 home passing defense and No. 13 home rushing defense. But when it comes to scoring, they are No. 1. This is because they are monsters in the Red Zone and also rank fourth in YPP allowed.
Back over on the ball’s offensive side, yards per play is an important stat for handicapping, and the Pats road offense is better than the Rams home offense in this metric. They move the ball for 5.64 yards per play versus the Rams 5.29.
Will that be enough to win the game? I doubt it, but given the fact that they have a +6 point margin in this offensive situation going against the Rams +8 point defensive margin, We could see this game come down to a field goal.
I do like the Rams to win this game outright, but I do like the New England Patriots to get the backdoor cover, especially if we wait on the line and get the Patriots +6.5. Another thing to note is the fact that the Patriots are 66.7% as underdogs against the spread this season. When we add it all up, this game should be tight. The Patriots are finally above .500 and are trying to close the gap on a wild card berth. Meanwhile, the Rams are trying to hang on to a lead in the NFC West. Both teams have a lot to play for.