Week 14 America’s Game of the Week Preview: Philadelphia Eagles vs. Los Angeles Rams Betting Advice

By Peter Brooks in Sports
| December 8, 2017 12:00 am PST
Eagles vs Rams

This Sunday afternoon, the Philadelphia Eagles travel west to take on the Los Angeles Rams in what is unquestionably the premier matchup of Week 14. These two teams come into the game tied for first place in the league in scoring, but only one of them will lead the league after this Sunday’s game.

For the first time in their two-year careers, the #1 and #2 picks in the 2016 NFL Draft go head-to-head.

The last time these two teams played each other in the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum was all the way back in 1977, where quarterback Ron Jaworski was in his first of ten seasons with the Eagles and Hall of Famer Joe Namath was in his first (and last) season with the Rams, which also turned out to be the last of his career.

In this game, we see two sophomore quarterbacks whose careers could very well last as long as Jaworski’s and Namath’s. Both of these QBs have improved dramatically from last season to this season, with Carson Wentz improving his passer rating by a whopping 23 points and Jared Goff improving even more, going up by an incredible 35 points.

  • Who: Philadelphia Eagles (10–2) vs. Los Angeles Rams (9–3)
  • Where: Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Los Angeles, California
  • When: Sunday, December 10, 2017. 4:25 PM (EST) on FOX

Between the two of them, the top two picks in last year’s draft have combined for over 6,100 passing yards and have thrown a total of 49 touchdowns this season.

Just as it did leading up to the 2016 Draft, debate continues to rage over which quarterback you would rather take if you were a GM starting a new franchise. At this point, the best thing these two quarterbacks can do to separate themselves is to make it to the postseason, and it begins with this game.

Which young quarterback will be able to pull it off? Below, I’ve got you covered with all the information you need to make informed gambling decisions about the following bets:

  • Moneyline bets
  • Bets against the spread
  • The total score over/under bet

Unlike Namath and Jaworski, who only overlapped for a few years in the league, Wentz and Goff could well be a part of the top tier of quarterbacks for many years to come. And I couldn’t be more thrilled to see them face off for the first time in America’s Game of the Week.

Eagles vs. Rams Betting

FootballMoneyLine
  • Eagles +115
  • Rams -135

In picking games straight-up for moneyline odds, my philosophy involves taking a look at the two teams holistically, in order to determine which team will have the mental advantage.

In my experience, the team that is able to maintain its mental toughness for the entire 60-minute contest generally ends up winning. On the other hand, whichever team loses its focus ends up making costly mistakes like turnovers, blown coverages, miscommunications, penalties, and the like. This can turn into a negative spiral that generally ends in a loss.

In this game, I believe that home-field advantage will actually have the reverse effect you’d think.

The Rams are technically home for this game, but given the large number of Philadelphia transplants in the greater Los Angeles area (and given how much more fanatic Eagles fans are compared to Rams fans), there may well be more Philly fans in the stands than Rams fans.

With the game essentially played on a neutral field and the weather perfect, this game will come down to a battle between two young coaches and two young QBs.

In the introduction above I outlined the comparison between Wentz and Goff, but an even more important battle will take place between second-year Eagles head coach Doug Pederson and first-year Rams head coach Sean McVay.

The Rams and the Eagles are both gunning for the #1 overall seed in the NFC, and if the Rams win this game the two teams will have the same record.

This is the moment for a head coach to step in and lead his team. In the case of the Eagles, coming off of a bad loss against the Seattle Seahawks that snapped a 9-game win streak, it’s especially imperative for Pederson to rebuild the lost momentum going into the last few games of the season.

Ultimately, I believe that Jared Goff will end up making more mental mistakes than Carson Wentz.

Not only does Wentz have the more veteran head coach, who will help rein in the young QB, but he also has the more established run game. I believe that when he goes up against the stout D-line of the Eagles, Jared Goff will feel the pressure and make some key mistakes, and Philadelphia will capitalize.

Pick: Eagles to win

FootballSpread
  • Eagles +2 (-105)
  • Rams -2 (-115)

Given the fact that the Eagles are 2-point underdogs in this game, the fact that I’ve picked them to win straight-up means that I’ve obviously already made my pick against the spread.

Usually, when I pick ATS, my philosophy involves taking a look at the way that the winning team’s offense matches up against the losing team’s defense.

In my experience, when a team is able to stay mentally tough enough to win the game and also matches up well enough on offense against the opposing team’s defense to score points, they will generally be able to win both straight-up and against the spread. On the other hand, when the losing team can generate stops, they’ll generally keep the game close enough to cover.

To shore up the case for an Eagles underdog win, I’ll take a look at the way their offense matches up.

Obviously, both of these teams are prolific on offense, currently tied for #1 in the league for the most points scored, averaging 30.1 points per game. And this 30.1 average still holds despite the fact that the Eagles got stone-walled by the Seahawks’ defense at CenturyLink Field last week.

Make sure you don’t overreact to the Eagles’ offensive snafu last game; the Seahawks defensive line took it upon themselves to prove the whole world wrong and played out of their minds.

Seattle is an incredibly prideful team, so as soon as people started to doubt whether their defense could handle the Rams without Richard Sherman or Kam Chancellor that’s when you knew that Michael Bennett and the defensive line would win the game single-handedly.

The big difference for the Eagles last week was that the Seahawks’ defensive line shut down Philly’s run game, holding them under 100 yards for the first time since Week 1.

For an offense that ranks second in the league in rushing, relying on the three-headed monster of LeGarrette Blount, Corey Clement, and Jay Ajayi to produce an average of over 140 rush yards per game, having their legs cut out from under them (no pun intended) against the Seahawks was a major blow.

However, the Eagles should have much more success running the ball this week against the Rams.

So far this season, L.A. is ranked 27th in rushing yards allowed, giving up an average of 124 per game. And the Eagles being able to run the ball is crucial in this game, as it means time of possession.

After all, there is a reason why, even though these two teams have the exact same amount of total points scored, and even though the two teams average almost the exact same number of yards per play, the Eagles are ranked #1 in the league in time of possession and the Rams are ranked 15th.

Philly’s ability to run the ball and the Rams inability to stop them will mean the difference in this game.

Pick: Eagles to win, covering the spread

FootballTotal Score
  • Over 48 (-110)
  • Under 48 (-110)

Now that I’ve made my pick for the Eagles to win this game as road underdogs because of the advantage provided by the more veteran coach, and for their ability to run the ball (#2 in the league) against the weak L.A. run D (#27 in the league) to make the difference, it’s now time to answer the question of whether this will be a generally high- or low-scoring game.

When picking games for the total score over/under bet, my philosophy involves taking a look at the way that the winning team’s defense matches up against the losing team’s offense.

In my experience, when a team is able to dominate the game on both offense and defense, they will generally be able to control the flow and timing of the game to such a degree that the total score goes under. On the other hand, when the losing team can score points, the game can turn into a shootout that pushes the total score over.

In this game, the matchup to watch for the total score bet is the Eagles’ defense vs. the Rams’ offense.

Above, I pointed out that these two teams have scored the exact same number of points on offense, but the Eagles have run the ball much more than the Rams and thus have a much better time of possession average.

Similarly, these two teams have almost the exact same number of points allowed on defense: the Eagles are ranked 6th with 17.9 points allowed per game, the Rams are ranked 7th with 18.5.

But even being so similar in terms of total points, the Rams are ranked 27th in the league in average amount of rush yards allowed per game, as I mentioned above (allowing a whopping 122.8 yards per game), and the Eagles are ranked best in the league (a stingy 68.1).

The question becomes: If the Eagles are able to shut down Todd Gurley and the Rams’ running game, will L.A. still be able to move the ball through the air?

The easy answer is yes, absolutely. This is what the Rams have been doing all season. With Gurley able to catch balls out of the backfield, Sammy Watkins and Cooper Kupp deep threats down the field, and a whole mess of other targets, it should be no problem for the Rams to move the ball in the passing game.

In addition, I envision the Rams getting down early in this game and needing to play catch up.

If the Eagles are able to control the time of possession by running the ball and ripping off long drives, like I envision, then the Rams will need to work quickly to catch up, meaning long throws downfield. There’s a definite possibility that the Rams will be able to connect on one if they’re able to protect Goff.

Ultimately, this game will be a shootout. Take the over.

Pick: Rams 24, Eagles 27

Summary: Best Bets

The marquee matchup for Week 14 is happening on America’s Game of the Week, with the #1 and #2 picks from last year’s draft, Jared Goff and Carson Wentz, facing off for the first time, and together leading two offenses that are tied for first place in the league in scoring offense.

I believe that the Eagles win this game as road underdogs because of the coaching advantage provided by second-year head coach Doug Pederson. I foresee Jared Goff making mistakes that the Eagles capitalize on, and the matchup between the Eagles’ #2 ranked rushing offense and the Rams’ #27 ranked rushing defense proving the difference.

In order to profit off of this view of the game, here are my best bets:

  • Eagles +115 moneyline
  • Eagles -2 against the spread (-115)
  • The total score to go over 48 (-110)

The last time these two teams played was in 1977, with Ron Jaworski quarterbacking the Eagles and Joe Namath quarterbacking the Rams. Though it’s still early in their careers, with Carson Wentz and Jared Goff at the helm it seems like NFL fans will be in for a QB matchup that’s just as good.

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