Denver Broncos (7-2 SU, 5-4 ATS) vs. St. Louis Rams (3-6 SU, 3-6 ATS)
College Football Week 11
Date and Time: Sunday, November 16, 2014 at 1:00PM EST
Where: Edward Jones Dome, St. Louis, Missouri
by Scott, NFL Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: DEN -10.5/STL +10.5
Over/Under Total: 50.5
On Sunday, the Denver Broncos come to the Edward Jones Dome to face the St. Louis Rams. The Broncos may have lost badly a few weeks ago at New England, but are otherwise cruising along nicely at 7-2. The Rams may not be as bad as their record, but at 3-6, its been a rough season. Still, at home, theyre a dangerous proposition for a Denver team that may not be in its most urgent state-of-mind.
The Rams had beaten the 49ers on the road the previous week, before losing last Sunday, 31-14, to the Cardinals. The Rams had to be feeling good coming off the SF road win and taking a 14-10 lead over Arizona before the home team scored three 4th-quarter touchdowns. And that can happen with the Rams. They usually give it a good go, but often times collapse and lose touch with the opponent and the spread, as their 3-6 ATS record will attest. Theres been several times this season where betting on the Rams has proved to be an excruciating experience. But again, for a 3-6 team, they are dangerous. Ask Seattle and San Francisco, both who got tagged with losses against this Rams team.
The Broncos typically show up at close to full-power when facing apparently-outgunned teams. On Sunday, a 41-17 win over Oakland, they played very well on both sides of the ball, especially in the second half. But other than a clear win and cover over a home Raiders team on Sunday, the Broncos have been uninspiring on the road. In their three other road games, they lost to Seattle, beat the Jets when only a late miracle got the cover, and got roasted by the Pats two weeks ago. This will be their third consecutive road game and as double-digit favorites, you wonder if theyll have enough edge to get the job done.
The Rams have been hammered with injuries all season. Theyve done well to play through it, but they are far from full-power personnel-wise. On one hand, their ability to challenge teams is a good sign. But more troubling is their knack to fold up their tents in the 4th quarter. If they play according to form, theyll hang in there against the Broncos and maybe even lead, only to get canned in the 4th quarter. They are -40 in scoring in the 4th quarter this season, having given up 5 defensive touchdowns. Its happened enough to where its not an aberration.
The Rams have gotten erratic, but capable play from QB Austin Davis, who has done well considering the conditions. The run game, led by Tre Mason, Zac Stacy, and Bennie Cunningham has been lackluster. The receiving crew is lacking in octane, with TE Jared Cook, Kenny Britt, and TE Lance Kendricks leading the way. Of their top 7 receivers, only two are actually wide receivers and one of them (Brian Quick) is out for the season. They are a bottom-third offense, though capable of dramatic form-shifts.
The Rams are 28th in both scoring and points allowed. In a nutshell, theyre averaging 18, while giving up 28 and thats obviously a major problem. If looking for a silver lining, their defense been tough against the pass, which you think would help against the Broncos. And despite awful rankings, theyve shown they can play significantly above their head on occasion.
The Broncos are obviously high-powered and its pointless to run through all the impressive stats and name all of their many playmakers. One possible hiccup is that Ronnie Hillman is out with an ankle injury and he has been giving the Broncos a needed presence in the run-game. But Denver never relies on one guy, with a cast of weapons exploding at the seams.
Against the Raiders, Manning threw for 5 touchdowns. But even more promising was the performance of CJ Anderson, who gained 90 yards on the ground, meaning Denver may still be able to establish the run without Hillman. What might be more difficult is how St. Louis will run the ball, with the Denver defense now the top-ranked defense against the run this season. They have been super-stingy, with seemingly every rushing attempt bottled up quickly by this defense. Throw the pass-rushing acumen into the mix and this is a defense that could be peaking, albeit the Pats loss was disconcerting. Von Miller and DeMarcus Ware are both among the league leaders in sacks. With the prospects of establishing the run so bleak, too much responsibility could fall on the shoulders of Austin Davis, with the Denver pass-rush taking aim at the young QB.
What makes this difficult is the wide-ranging window of form from week-to-week with the Rams. They do seem to get up for good teams, but trying to pinpoint where within the range the Rams will fall on a given week can be a futile exercise. Im not sure if its because this is their third road game in a row, but something is telling me this might be the wrong week to take Denver as a double-digit road favorite.
Scott’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: Im betting on the St. Louis Rams plus 10.5 points.