LA Rams vs. Detroit Lions Pick
Los Angeles Rams (10-1 SU, 4-6-1 ATS) vs. Detroit Lions (4-7 SU, 6-5 ATS)
NFL Week 13
Date/Time: Sunday, December 2, 2018 at 1PM EST
Where: Ford Field, Detroit, Michigan
By Loot Levinson, Expert Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: LAR -9.5/DET +9.5 (Bovada Sportsbook)
Over/Under Total: 54.5
The Los Angeles Rams take on the Detroit Lions at Ford Field on Sunday in key week 13 action. The Rams are coming off a bye, which followed a great win with a 54-51 triumph over the Chiefs in a memorable shootout. They now come into Detroit to take on a Lions team that is nice and dug in for their third straight home game. On Thanksgiving, they came up short to the first-place Bears, 23-16. They’ve been a little better and are a tick superior at home, so we’ll see what they can come up with. With the big number, we like the Lions to cover at home. Sure, one team is 10-1 and the other is 4-7, but at the betting windows, it’s actually the Lions who have been better.
Daylight for Detroit
This season hasn’t gone according to script for the Lions, sitting at 4-7 and basically out of contention. Detroit is just a team taking up space. They have jumped up from time to time, with their wins coming against some good teams like New England and Carolina, along with decent teams like Miami and Green Bay. But more often than not, they fall flat as they did at home against the Bears last Thursday. Still, they were in it until the end and with some more-assertive receiver play, they could have tied it late. They should have.
But they are home for the third week in a row. They’re comfortable. They’re dug-in. And while it doesn’t always manifest, they have some weapons on offense. Matthew Stafford’s stats might be padded, but he can move the ball, even with a depleted receiver crew that features Kenny Golladay and Marvin Jones. The run-game has a new lease on life with rookie Kerryon Johnson and LeGarrette Blount. And we’re mentioning this because the Rams’ defense is in a state of tumult, despite the sterling results of late.
Is the Rams “D” Up-to-Snuff
One would have to imagine that the “D” was an area of focus in the bye-week. I suppose that when a “D” gives the offense enough room with which to work 10 out of 11 times, then there is nothing else to discuss. But if the Rams want to make a serious run this season, it’s typically very difficult with a defense that can be stomped by even mid-level offenses. This is Detroit’s hope in this battle, even in an ATS sense.
Sure, the Detroit offense doesn’t always get a ton out of what they have, but LA has allowed a combined 127 points in their last three games. They really loaded up on big-name personnel this season on this side of the ball and it really hasn’t manifested in bottom-line results. Even with Ndamukong Suh in there, the run-defense hasn’t been standout. Marcus Peters makes a lot of plays, but can be burnt. With the name-power on this side of the ball and so much support from the offense, you’d have expected more.
Challenges for the Detroit Defense
Even if the Rams struggle defensively, the Detroit defense is up against it in a major way. This run-defense against a rested and peaking Todd Gurley is a frightening proposition. They can rush the passer with Jarrad Davis, Ziggy Ansah, Devon Kennard, and Romeo Okwara, but aren’t too robust against the run. They’re a little stouter against the pass, but they don’t really register a lot of big plays. The Rams wield a lot of firepower in this area, with Jared Goff already over 3500 yards passing. Robert Woods and Brandin Cooks will soon both be over 1000 yards. The bye-week helped with some injuries, but with Cooper Kupp on IR, Cooks questionable, and Gurley dealing with a gimpy ankle, maybe that makes it so we don’t see the normal Rams’ firestorm this week.
Will LA Be Feeling Urgency?
Granted, they are playing a less-than-fearsome opponent in Detroit. And at 10-1, the urgency doesn’t always resonate. But they don’t strike one as a team to phone it in. First of all, they haven’t accomplished anything yet. The conference is top-heavy and there is still work to be done to secure a premier postseason seed. The bye-week also serves as a time to regroup, refresh, and then pounce on the stretch-run of the season. With a defense that needs some ironing out and some injury issues on offense, the Rams should be eager to reassert themselves this week in Detroit.
What Can Detroit Do?
On one hand, it’s hard to see a path to victory for Detroit in this game, but they don’t need to win to cash a winner. We see Stafford, who continually struggles to convert yardage to points. The run-game looks good one week and falls apart the next. The defense is nothing special. But they’re a subpar team that can have a high ceiling the right week. They’re better at home and can be vaguely dangerous in the right spots and this might be one of them.
Take the Points on the Home Underdog
With four covers the whole season, it’s fair to say that the Rams have been a tad overrated—at least from a betting standpoint. Watching the Lions on Thanksgiving, the last thing anyone was thinking was to bet on them against a superpower like the Rams. But I see the Rams being a bit diminished on offense, as they use some key pieces gingerly. And with a defense that can’t stop a nosebleed lately, I picture Detroit hanging in there enough to notch the cover at home.
Loot’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: I’m betting on the Detroit Lions plus 9.5 points.