When a team has an 8-8 or 7-9 type of season, it is said to be a “roller-coaster ride.” But success is a roller-coaster in the NFL too. 32 clubs have the athletes to execute a sneaky-good game plan, so we usually forgive dominant teams for having to pull games out in the 4th quarter here and there.
But we don’t forgive them for losing, and that’s why the Philadelphia Eagles are underdogs to Sean McVay’s Los Angeles Rams this Sunday afternoon.
Carson Wentz and the Eagles were nearly crowned kings-apparent by the media in November. They brushed off the Redskins and the Bears, scored 51 points on the Broncos and crushed the Dallas Cowboys at Jerry World in prime-time. Whether they were ripe for a trap game or simply out-played, Philly came crashing down to Earth the following weekend in Seattle.
The Rams are playing like a classic well-coached unit, responding to McVay’s fresh leadership after years of mediocre toil under Jeff Fisher. A 24-7 loss at Minnesota in November, their 3rd defeat of the season, showed what can happen when the squad does not execute. A 26-20 triumph over the reborn Saints the following week showed what happens when they do.
Who: Philadelphia Eagles at Los Angeles Rams
When: Sunday, December 10th, 4:25 PM EST
Where: The Coliseum, Los Angeles, CA
Lines: Philly (+2.5) at L.A. (-2.5) / O/U Total: (48)
The Seahawks showed-off a neat formula to beat Philadelphia at CenturyLink last weekend. Patiently grind the clock, convert your opportunities, and harass Carson Wentz into turning it over. Pete Carroll correctly surmised that the ground game is an excellent 2nd-fiddle in the Philly offense, but not dominant on its own. Defensive ends can chase Wentz and try to strip the ball, which the ‘Hawks did…twice.
A pair of WRs and a TE – Alshon Jeffrey, Nelson Agholor, and Zach Ertz respectively – are the “jackpot” with 7 – 7 – and – 7 TD catches on the year. But there’s no single, great home-run threat lurking on the outside, and no game-breaking rushers outside of LeGarrette Blount (and occasionally Wentz).
Can the Rams exploit the same subtle weakness? The defense certainly brings a healthy pass rush. Defensive tackle/end Aaron Donald is a terror, with 8 sacks and 3 forced fumbles on the year. 8 separate Rams have interceptions in 2017. Johnny Hekker remains the best punter in the game.
Ingredient #2 is the offense. QB Jared Goff has shined overall, but the competition hasn’t been challenging him lately. The Eagles have a better, more physical defense than the Cardinals or the Saints. A better sample is L.A.’s 27-17 mid-season win over the stubborn Jaguars on the road. Jacksonville’s rush loomed large early-on. But Goff was patient, Todd Gurley rushed for 116 yards, and the Rams found a way to prevail.
We’re liking the Rams to win straight-up or ATS at the Coliseum. A spread below a field-goal margin is not much different than a pick’em – this is a game that will likely be won in spectacular fashion.