St. Louis Rams (1-7 SU, 1-7 ATS) at Cleveland Browns (3-5 SU, 2-4-2 ATS)
Sunday November 13th, 2011. 1:00PM EST. NFL Football Week 10
Browns Stadium Cleveland, O.H.
By Jay Horne, NFL Handicapper of Predictem.com
Point Spread: STL +3/Clev -3
Over/Under Total: 37.5
The St. Louis Rams have been labeled by many as the worst team in the NFC this season. After all the Rams started the season 0-6 before they unexpectedly upset the New Orleans Saints 31-21 two weeks ago. That victory gave the Rams a much needed confidence boost which transpired into another solid effort last week against the Cardinals. St. Louis eventually lost the game to Arizona 19-13 in overtime last week, but most importantly they are starting to play well enough to actually be competitive. This week the Rams look to grab just their 2nd win on the season when they travel to battle the Cleveland Browns on Sunday.
The hosting Browns enter this Sunday’s meeting with the Rams fresh off a blowout loss to Houston last week 30-12. For the Browns, it was just another disappointment that has built over the past few weeks. Cleveland has now lost 4 of their last 5 games and is obviously pointed in the wrong direction. The Browns offense has been the catalyst that has held the team back this year and has shown no signs of improvement. Cleveland currently owns the 3rd worst total offense in the NFL averaging a measly 289 yards with 14.9 points per game.
The play behind center for the Browns offense has been an issue all year. The Browns had hoped QB Colt McCoy would be improved in his 2nd year in the NFL this season, but McCoy has played much like he did a season ago as a rookie. On the year, McCoy has completed just 57.5% passing for 1,764 yards with 10 scores and 6 picks. To make matters worse, the offensive line has struggled to protect McCoy limiting Browns receivers’ time to get open. The offensive line can be largely blamed for the Browns inability to move the football on the ground as well. The Browns sport the 2nd worst rushing offense in the NFL averaging just 82 yards per game on the ground. Just to emphasize how bad the rushing offense has been, the Browns are the only team in the league without a single rusher over 250 yards on the year.
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Unless you have a superstar quarterback, you have to be able to run the ball consistently in the NFL to win ball games. Cleveland definitely needs to find a way to move the ball on the ground because McCoy has not proven that he can be effective at all behind center. To make matters worse, both running backs Peyton Hillis and Montario Hardesty will miss this Sunday’s game with the Rams with injuries. Therefore, newly acquired 3rd string back Chris Ogbonnaya will be the guy to fill in. Ogbonnaya has averaged just 2.9 yards per carry in his 3 games with the Browns while giving up 2 fumbles over the last two weeks. Needless to say the Browns offense will have major concerns again surrounding the rushing attack and they will look for McCoy to have a big game passing in effort to score the win.
For the Rams, they have not been very impressive on the offensive side of the ball either. St. Louis has averaged just 314 yards while sporting an NFL 2nd worst 12.5 points per game on the year. QB Sam Bradford has been sacked more times (31) than any other quarterback in the NFL. Throwing the football, Bradford has completed only 54.2% passing for 1,432 yards with 3 scores and 3 picks. Due to the offensive line troubles, it has really caused the Rams offense to play conservative which has had a negative impact on the passing game.
However, running back Steven Jackson has been solid behind what can only be described as a bad offensive line. On the season, Jackson has posted 579 yards with 4 scores while averaging over 5 yards per carry. Backup tailback Cadillac Williams has been fairly effective on limited touches as well gaining 237 yards on the year while averaging 4 yards per carry. Williams has been rather ineffective over the last two weeks, but will still get some touches in effort to break out of his slump. Together both Jackson and Williams could hold the key to thwarting the Browns this Sunday.
Both St. Louis and Cleveland defenses rank in the bottom 3 in the NFL against the run. In fact, the Rams rank dead last in the NFL stopping the run giving up a miserable 153 yards per game on the ground. However as I pointed out previously, the Browns simply cannot run the football and have two starting tailbacks out this Sunday. The Rams on the other hand can run the ball moderately which may have a big impact against a Browns defense that has relinquished 144 yards per game on the ground. With those factors going into consideration, I believe the visiting Rams pull out the victory on the road in Cleveland this Sunday.
Jay’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: Rams +3.
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