Pick of the Week: Los Angeles Rams set to crush Detroit Lions, get shockingly rare ATS win

Sunday, 02 December 2018 10:01 EST

In a week of NFL betting loaded with away favorites, sure, we’ll go with the biggest of ’em all. For our Best Bet for Week 13, NFLbets is saying take the Los Angeles Rams -10 at the Detroit Lions.

NFL bets Los Angeles Rams logoThe trappings and stats indicating a healthy Rams win are all in place. Though this game in Detroit represents just the second trip east of the Mountain Time Zone for the Rams, playing inside certainly won’t hurt an offense scoring nearly 35½ points per game. If you’re really looking for the silver lining, one may point out that the Rams’ first away game in the east was also played in a dome and saw the Rams topped by the Saints, 45-35. Of course, the 2018 Detroit Lions are not the 2018 New Orleans Saints.

Also on the Rams’ side is the by week. Obviously, Sean McVay has not much history here, a.k.a. one tiny-ass sample size. In his debut season, L.A. exited the bye week with a 51-17 thumping of the New York Giants, who were already well on their way to a date with destiny and Saquon Barkley as the second-worst team in the league. Now, the 2018 Detroit Lions aren’t quite the 2017 New York Giants, but they’re no world-killers, either.

Among the notables from that insane week 11 Chiefs-Rams game was the lack of Todd Gurley. Naturally, Southern California sports media has been all over the stud halfback’s near no-show in the 105-point scorefest; reports far and wide provide little information but unanimously state Gurley’s 100% good to go against Detroit. About the best NFLbets can say about the Lions run defense is that at least it’s not the pass defense, a bottom-3 unit by Football Outsiders’ DVOA metric.

But the no. 1 reason to bet the Rams this week? Their insane numbers against the spread in 2018. McVay’s guys are impressive as hell at 10-1 SU, having gone toe-to-toe and blow-for-blow with the likes of the Saints, Chiefs and Seattle Seahawks twice. In fact, beyond the Saints, the most challenging opponent faced by the Rams in 2018 has been the point spread. Their record ATS, however, is absolutely freakish at 4-5-2, having failed to cover the point spread on a SU win *six times* – This outlier is the outliest.

NFL bets Detroit Lions new logo(NFLbets’ recordkeeping on ATS marks is somewhat subjective in that the line is frozen for our purposes when we place the bet. Individual sportsbooks may have the Rams as good as 6-5 ATS or as poor as 4-7 ATS, both just as nuts as our reckoning…)

The Rams ATS mark comprises two factors, which NFL bettors may ascribe to the 4-5-2 in whatever proportion they so choose: First is the bookmakers just flat-out doing their job properly; second is the L.A. D’s infuriating inability to close out games against weaker opponents. Beyond the Chiefs and Seahawks (twice), the Minnesota Vikings, Denver Broncos and Green Bay Packers have all kept the Rams’ margin of victory inside a touchdown-plus-PAT – and L.A. was favored by 7-7½ against all three.

But wait! Activated for the game is Aqib Talib, whose presence could well prove to be the support pillar the Rams’ pass defense needs. What gives with Marcus Peters is anyone’s guess, but dude has been exposed all season by opposition receivers to the extent that the daunted, all-star Rams D ranks just 16th in overall DVOA and is 27th-“best” at allowing passing touchdowns. Deadly if opponents are inside their own 25, Los Angeles’s pass defense is as porous as any in the league as offenses march closer to the red zone. Talib has got to make a difference here, right?

NFLbets thinks so. The Rams haven’t had a nice blowout win since week 7’s immolation of the 49ers – the only non-prospective playoff team they’d seen since week 2, incidentally – in San Francisco. Currently on a lowly 1-5-2 ATS run, the Rams are simply too good for such trends to continue. This could get ugly for the Lions…

NFLbets’ Pick of Week record in 2018: 5-4-1.