St. Louis Rams (5-6-1 SU, 8-4 ATS) vs. Buffalo Bills (5-7 SU, 6-6 ATS)
NFL Week 14
Date: Sunday, December 9, 2012, 1:00PM EST
Where: Ralph Wilson Stadium, Buffalo, New York
by Bob, Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: STL +3/BUF -3
Over/Under Total: 42.5
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Talk about your typical toss up of a football game, this next NFL matchup could seriously go in ANY possible direction. The St. Louis Rams will travel East to take on the Buffalo Bills. Both teams came into this season hoping to earn a playoff spot but neither has been able to do so. Both are mathematically still alive in their conference playoff picture but it’s highly unlikely. The Rams come in this week with a record of 5-6-1 and sit in 3rd place, 2.5 games behind the 49ers for the NFC West division lead. Buffalo, at 5-7 are stuck in a 3 way tie for 2nd place in the AFC East behind the New England Patriots. While it appears neither of these two teams will come back to win their respective division, I would think the Rams have the better shot. With both teams playoff dreams nearly crushed, its safe to say that the loser of this game is done.
The Buffalo Bills are ranked 4th in all of the NFL in rushing due to Fred Jackson and CJ Spiller combining to put up over 140 yards per contest. Now, yea, the Bills can run the ball, but they have issues passing. Ever since they inked Ryan Fitzpatrick to that long term deal last season, things just haven’t been the same. He started the 2011 season as one of the league’s top passers only to fall off the map in the final 6 weeks of the NFL season. That fall off has only continued throughout the 2012 campaign as well. Now, Fitzpatrick has thrown 20 touchdowns, but has also thrown 12 interceptions and fumbled the ball 5 times as well. He isn’t technically “stinking up the place,” but he just hasn’t played well enough when needed to get his team the wins to put them in the hunt for a post season. The lack of success however, is not the fault of the offense, it’s the terrible run defense that the Bills put out on the field. The Bills defense is giving up just as many yards on their side of the ball as the offense is putting up.
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This season, the Buffalo defense has given up scores of: 48, 37, 52, and 45. I didn’t even mention the scores of the games where they lost 35-34 and 37-31. You really cannot blame the offense for the overall lack of success. Four times this season, the Bills have scored 28+ and lost. Unacceptable. With all that being said, being at home, I truly think that Buffalo can win this game. Their offense is good enough to win a shootout, and I am curious how the Rams offense reacts to playing in the cooler outdoors rather than their comfy dome.
The Rams enter this game with a record of 5-6-1. This is a tough team to figure out because twice now this season they have taken the San Francisco 49ers (one of the top teams in the NFC) to overtime. Once ended in a tie, and the other one, just this past Sunday ended up a 16-13 Rams win. These guys hang tough with some of the NFLs big boys, but then you have games where they lose to teams like the Jets, Cardinals, and Dolphins. This is just a tough group to figure out. The Rams from a stats standpoint aren’t too shabby. They rank 12th in the NFL in passing defense and 13th in rushing defense. The key to this game will be to slow down Buffalo’s scoring, and put up enough points to force the Bills to throw the ball. The Rams MUST stop the run if they have any shot of winning this game.
Bob’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: Wow, tough call here. Like I stated earlier, this contest could go in any sort of direction. Both teams have the ability to blow this one out, but if the defenses decide to play, this could come down to the wire. I am going to ride with the home team here. Games like this when the visiting team primarily plays indoors, I tend to lean toward the home squad. I think Buffalo comes out and scores enough to put the pressure on Sam Bradford and the Rams offense. I predict a 27-20 type finish in Buffalo with the Bills winning and keeping those extremely slim playoff hopes alive. PICK: BUFFALO -3
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