Last Week: 10-3
All-Time Results: 64-55-1, +10.31 Units
Los Angeles Rams -3 (-129) @ Pittsburgh Steelers – .25 Units
We cashed on Monday with my biggest play in two weeks based largely on the following trend: Road Favorites off a Bye are 66% ATS since 2000 (75-38). It was close but I think it was the right call. Even with a few costly early mistakes, we saw a Cowboys teams rested & ready on Monday Night Football outgaining the Giants by 2.6 Yards Per Play & outscoring them 21-3 in the 4th quarter.
Again, the trend makes sense here. Sean McVay’s Rams already have a history of dominating their opponent with extra time to prepare. Since 2017, LA is 2-0 ATS when coming off their Bye week (+16.2 ATS Margin) and 3-0 in season openers (+16.3 ATS Margin). After getting healthier and more accustomed to their teammates such as All-Pro CB Jaylen Ramsey, I expect a monster performance.
Moreover, Sean McVay’s Rams have been unbelievable on the road throughout his tenure. LA has won 17 of 21 road games under McVay, beating the spread in 14 of those games and by an average ATS margin of +6. Even as the rest of the league has caught up with the Rams explosive offensive system, their steadiness on the road has persisted. The Rams have won their last 6 road games against the spread, including all four this season.
The Rams did lose to Seattle on a short week, by about a football length. But considering Russell Wilson & Pete Carroll’s dominance on Thursday Night and at home in Prime Time that 1 point loss strikes me actually as a pretty impressive result.
Los Angeles Rams -6.5 (+138) @ Pittsburgh Steelers – .25 Units
The Rams are built for shock & awe. Built for margin.
Look at their performance against the Atlanta Falcons in comparison to their Division Rival Seahawks. Unlike the Seahawks, who ended up only winning by 7 after racing out to a 21 point lead, the Rams never let up against the Falcons, building a 10 point lead by halftime and eventually winning by 27. Of McVay’s 24 ATS wins as an NFL Head Coach, 17 have beaten the closing spread by 5 points or more. Of his 31 SU wins, 17 have been by 10 points or more, 20 have been by 7 points or more.
Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Los Angeles Rams Under 44 – .25 Units
The Rams have a sneaky good defense. #4 in Total Defense according to Football Outsiders DVOA metric.
Frankly, I think the Rams will embarrass Pittsburgh QB, Mason Rudolph on Sunday. Rudolph is a respectable 4-2 as a starter, but he is not passing the eye test for me. Against the Colts last week, the thought passed my mind Rudolph may just be a more handsome Luke Faulk. Uncomfortable hanging in the pocket with the ball for any length of time – Rudolph checked down to RB Jaylen Samuel 13 times against Indy – setting a Steelers record for catches by a running back. If Rudolph can’t hang in there against the Colts pass rush, against Aaron Donald, Dante Fowler & Clay Matthews, Rudolph may just take a knee on 3rd down and save everybody time.
On the other side of the ball, we have a Rams QB in Jared Goff that has struggled on the road and has particularly struggled in cold weather. Forecast for Pittsburgh on Sunday is 45 degrees with 12 MPH winds and a chance of rain. We saw Goff unable to move the ball at all in cold weather in Chicago last year. While conditions won’t be as difficult, I don’t see a high octane offensive performance by LA.
Todd Gurley’s best week by far this season was Week 1 – when he came into the game the freshest. I could easily see the Rams leaning on Gurley down the stretch as they did so often last year, salting the game away, nursing a double-digit lead.
Prediction: Rams 27, Steelers 13
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