NFL Expert Picks Against the Spread: Los Angeles Rams at Seattle Seahawks
By my count, there are just two games that mean absolutely nothing for at least one of the teams in the playoff scheme of things in Week 15: Broncos-Colts ( but I previewed that here at Doc's because it's on Thursday night ) and Cardinals-Redskins. The other 14 all are relevant in one form or another.
That made it tough to pick a Sunday preview. I was tempted to switch to the AFC game of the year from Pittsburgh as the Steelers host the Patriots. New England's shocking loss Monday night in Miami might have opened up the AFC a bit. The Steelers would now clinch the AFC's top seed with a victory and a Jacksonville home loss to Houston, which isn't likely. The Jags clinch their first playoff berth since 2007 with a victory.
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The Eagles are suddenly an interesting bunch without Carson Wentz as they visit the Giants on Sunday. Philly clinches home-field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs with a victory behind Nick Foles in New Jersey and a Minnesota home loss to Cincinnati, which isn't likely.
But the clear NFC game of the week is from Seattle as the Rams visit the Pacific Northwest. Los Angeles (9-4) leads the NFC West by a game over the Seahawks (8-5). The Rams sit third in the NFC. L.A.'s not catching the Eagles (11-2) and probably not the Vikings (10-3) because Minnesota holds a head-to-head tiebreaker. Thus, the best the Rams can hope for is to stick in that third seed.
The Seahawks are sitting seventh in the NFC as they lose a head-to-head tiebreaker with fellow 8-5 team Atlanta. The Falcons should win Monday night in Tampa. However, Seattle's totally focused on winning the division and would hold the tiebreaker over the Rams by completing the season sweep. A Seahawks loss could be deadly with the Packers (7-6) getting Aaron Rodgers back this week and the Cowboys (7-6) set to get back Ezekiel Elliott in Week 16. The closing schedules favor the Rams over the Seahawks. L.A. visits Tennessee and hosts San Francisco. So that's no worse than 1-1 most likely. Seattle is in Dallas on Christmas Eve and home to Arizona. Probably 1-1 there. Thus, the winner here probably takes the West. At BetOnline , the Rams are -150 for the division and the Seahawks +130.
Rams at Seahawks Betting Story Lines
Seattle had a two-game winning streak end last Sunday, but I honestly never expected the Seahawks to win cross country in Jacksonville after a huge Sunday night victory over Philadelphia. Russell Wilson had three more touchdown passes but a season-high three interceptions against the NFL's No. 1 pass defense. It's almost ridiculous how important Wilson is to Seattle. If he doesn't throw/run for a combined three TDs a game, this team just doesn't win because Wilson is also by far the club's leading rusher (482 yards, three TDs). The MVP race might still be open after the Patriots' Tom Brady had a very disappointing effort Monday night in the loss to Miami.
Seattle had two players ejected in an ugly ending to that Jaguars game, but apparently there will be no suspensions. Defensive end Quinton Jefferson was tossed and nearly went into the stands to brawl with fans. He's lucky he's not suspended. There are three injuries to monitor for Seattle: linebackers Bobby Wagner (hamstring) and K.J. Wright (concussion) and running back Mike Davis (ribs) all left vs. the Jags. It's too early to tell on their status. Wagner would be the biggest loss as he's playing like a Defensive Player of the Year candidate.
The Rams altered the entire NFC playoff outlook by not so much losing a great game Sunday vs. the Eagles but tearing Wentz's ACL on a third-quarter tackle. That matchup was as back-and-forth as one would expect between the NFL's highest-scoring teams. The Rams took their final lead at 35-31 on a Todd Gurley 1-yard TD early in the fourth. He finished with two scores and 96 yards rushing. Jared Goff was good (16 of 26 for 199 yards and two scores) but not as good as Wentz before Wentz left. Gurley's rush attempts (13) were doubled up by Goff's passes (26) even though Gurley averaged 7.38 yards per carry. Coach Sean McVay scolded himself a bit for that afterward. Expect more carries for Gurley.
L.A. came out of that game banged up, too, as cornerbacks Trumaine Johnson and Kayvon Webster and offensive linemen Andrew Whitworth and Rob Havenstein all were injured. The bad news is Webster is done for the year; Nickell Robey-Coleman is expected to start in his place. The other three weren't seriously hurt and are likely to play in Seattle. In addition, WR Robert Woods is on track to play. He hasn't since Week 11 due to a shoulder injury.
Rams at Seahawks Betting Odds and Trends
At 5Dimes , Seattle is a 1-point favorite (-120) with a total of 48. On the moneyline, the Seahawks are -130 and Rams +110. On the alternate lines, the Seahawks are -1.5 (-115) and -2 (-110). Los Angeles is 8-5 against the spread (4-2 on road) and 8-5 "over/under" (5-1 on road). Seattle is 5-7-1 ATS (2-4 at home) and 5-8 O/U (3-3 at home).
The Rams are 3-7 ATS in their past 10 after a loss. They are 2-5 ATS in their past seven vs. the NFC West. The Seahawks are 9-2-1 ATS in their past 12 after a loss. They have covered 20 of their previous 28 in December. The over is 5-1 in the Rams' past six following a loss. The under is 8-1 in Seattle's past nine vs. the NFC. The home team is 7-2 ATS in the past nine meetings. The under is 5-0 in the previous five in Seattle.
Rams at Seahawks Betting Prediction
The Rams can earn a playoff berth, but a lot has to happen: they win, and all these teams lose: Lions, Packers, Saints and Falcons. That's not all happening.
Los Angeles is definitely coming up and could replace Seattle as the team to beat in the NFC West as early as 2018. But I'm not sure Goff is ready to win at CenturyLink Field yet. He struggled in a Week 5 home 16-10 home loss to the Seahawks as it was with two picks. This is Wilson's time of the season. Take Seattle and go under the total.
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