Week 15 Thursday Night Football Preview: Rams vs. Seahawks Betting Advice and More

By Paul Wilson in Sports
| December 15, 2016 12:00 am PDT

Who: Los Angeles Rams (4–9) vs. Seattle Seahawks (8–4–1)

Where: CenturyLink Field. Seattle, Washington

When: Thursday, December 14, 2016. 8:25 PM (EST)

Week 15’s Thursday Night Football matchup features two division rivals that have a history of close, hard-fought, low-scoring games. However, when the Los Angeles Rams come into CenturyLink Field this Thursday Night to take on the Seattle Seahawks, there’s a good chance the game will be anything but close, hard-fought, and low-scoring.

The Rams’ 2016/17 season only adds to what is now a long tradition of mediocrity. Since the last time the Rams played in a playoff game, during the 2004/05 season, they have gone through 6 different head coaches, changed to a new city, and had only one season where they managed to win 8 games and get to .500.

This season doesn’t look all that different, with the Rams solidly positioned at third place in their division and once again unable to reach the .500 mark. The firing of Jeff Fischer, the addition of Jared Goff, and the move to L.A. are all too recent to show any returns, and this franchise could continue to struggle for a while.

The Seahawks, on the other hand, have steadily developed a winning tradition and a smash-mouth identity over the past 10 years. During the same stretch as the Rams’ mediocrity, the Seahawks have won the NFC West seven times, made the playoffs nine times, and appeared in three Super Bowls.

This season’s Week 15 Seahawks are a lot like a bear that just got its foot caught in a bear trap. They’re big, they’re strong, they’re angry, and they’re rearing up on their hind legs trying to hurt somebody. The team sustained an absolutely miserable loss last week with a historically bad game against the Green Bay Packers in Lambeau Field, and they will be fired up to turn things around on a short week.

So when these two teams play each other this Thursday in front of the national television audience, there’s good reason to believe the game could be very one-sided. But that’s not to say that this matchup does not hold value for parties interested in gambling on the game.

Let’s take a look at each potential bet individually, and determine where the best value can be found. We’ll review betting against the spread, the moneyline, the over/under, as well as the interesting prop bets for Rams–Seahawks.

Rams vs. Seahawks Betting

Spread

  • Rams +16 (-105)
  • Seahawks -16 (-115)

Ordinarily, when the Rams play the Seahawks, the Seahawks are favored but there’s a definite possibility to take the upset pick. For example, in their first matchup this season, in L.A., the final score ended up at 9–3 Los Angeles. Generally speaking, these two teams know each other well, and in the absence of the playoffs the Rams defense generally views the games against Seattle as their Super Bowl.

So when the Seahawks are favored by 16 points, meaning that they could lose by two touchdowns and still cover, you would ordinarily get excited by the opportunity to take the upset pick. Adding to this line of reasoning is the fact that the Rams are 4-8-1 against the spread so far, meaning that this game could be a prime opportunity for that statistical anomaly to equalize.

Enticing as this logic may be, the last time Seattle and L.A. played each other was in Week 2, so you can throw that game out. In Week 2 neither of these two teams had their identity formulated, neither team was especially fired up, and there were no playoff implications. This game is very different, which points towards the Seahawks covering the 16-point spread.

Most importantly, there was a clear impression left in both teams by their respective games last week. On the Rams side, they were down 42–0 at one point last week against the Falcons in front of a laughably sparse Los Angeles home crowd. For the Rams, these last remaining games are much more like live-action practices for Jared Goff than they are actual contests.

On the other side, the Seahawks got the snot kicked out of them last week against a long-standing playoff rival in the Green Bay Packers, losing by four touchdowns and turning the ball over 6 times. A 5-INT game only happens once or twice in a career, and Russell Wilson and the Seattle defense will be fired up to get that bad taste out of their mouths as quickly as possible.

So while the fervor to play their division rivals close may keep the Rams’ defense fired up for a series or two, as soon as Seattle takes a lead there will be no fight left in the Rams whatsoever. Meanwhile, Seattle will have the gas pedal pushed all the way to the floor for the entire 60 minutes.

This should give you the confidence to take the Seahawks against the spread, even with the highest line of the season at -16.

Pick: Rams 6, Seahawks 38

MoneyLine

  • Rams +580
  • Seahawks -833

The moneyline holds essentially no value in this game; with a line this high, the only possible value could be in some massive surprise upset.

But even if the Rams made some incredible plays, even if there was a rash of Seattle injuries, even if Seattle turned the ball over 6 times two games in a row, and even if there was some unforeseen Act of God that all came together on Thursday to put the Rams in the position to win the game, you would still want to bet the Seahawk’s moneyline for one simple reason: playoff implications.

Put simply, Seattle needs to keep winning to secure a first-round playoff bye, with several other teams capable of taking it from them if they were to lose one or two more games. A week off could mean the difference between running back C. J. Prosise returning from injury too soon, or returning at just the right time to get hot. On the other hand, of course, the Rams are firmly and fully out of contention.

So while the opportunity to bet on a division game moneyline at nearly 6-to-1 odds is always enticing, in this case it would be utter foolishness to lay any money on the Rams’ capability to win this game.

Total Score

  • Over 39 (-105)
  • Under 39 (-115)

Along with the ATS bet, the total score bet in this matchup is one of the most intriguing. The Seahawks have been kept out of the end-zone in three games this season, and each of those times Seattle’s offense has bounced back in dramatic fashion the following game. In those three contests, against the 49ers, Saints, and Panthers, they’ve averaged over 30 points and 3 touchdowns. Given the fact that last week the Rams gave up 42 points last week, it’s almost a guarantee that the Seahawks will score a lot of points in this matchup.

However, the total score involves contributions from both teams, so you also have to ask whether or not the Rams will be able to score any points. In thinking about this you have to consider the state of the Rams’ offense in light of the firing of Jeff Fischer. For a team coming off of a terrible loss on a short week with a Rookie quarterback at the helm, the loss of the team leader and game-planner could make them even more discombobulated on offense.

Furthermore, remember the context here. The Rams gave Case Keenum the nod at quarterback for months, ostensibly because they didn’t believe that the first overall pick in the draft could be a competent starter. In Jared Goff’s first three NFL starts over the last three weeks, he has proved them right.

While L.A.’s atrocious offensive line and mediocre receiving core certainly deserves a good portion of the blame as well, there’s no denying that Goff has struggles in his first few games. He has shown himself to be skittish, to move through his reads too quickly, to throw almost no passes longer than 10 yards downfield, and to have very little escapability. Even against the average Falcons’ defense last week, Goff put up terrible numbers until the Rams were down by six scores and it was garbage time.

This is the man leading the Rams’ offense into the loud, hostile environment of CenturyLink Field, where the Legion of Boom will be looking for vengeance after giving up five touchdowns last game, and The 12th Man will be as fired up as ever to see their team bounce back after a terrible loss.

So in summary, no: The Rams will likely not score any points at all in this matchup, save perhaps a garbage time field goal or two. However, we would still consider taking the Over, as we think it very unlikely that the Seahawks will score fewer than five touchdowns in this game.

With their offense clicking and a massive time of possession disparity, there’s a good chance that the Seahawks could put up more than 39 points all by themselves. Consider taking the over.

Prop Bets

With this overall view of the game in mind, let’s take a look at some prop bets that might hold value in this matchup, posted on the sportsbook at Bovada.

The only reasonable way to put any money on L.A. this week is to gamble on who will be the next head coach hired by the Rams. The two favorites are currently Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels at +200 and Falcons offense coordinator Kyle Shanahan at +300, both of these bets banking on the idea that the Rams are interested in hiring an offensive-minded coach to usher in the regime change from defense-first Jeff Fischer.

The only other global prop bet that it’s important to include is the Seahawks Super Bowl odds, which currently feature relatively good value at +650. Keep in mind that this is coming off of a horrible loss in which the team looked very beatable; if the Seahawks put out the kind of performance that we’re predicting in this matchup, these odds could easily fall below 5-to-1 as the gambling public’s confidence in the team surges. If you want to bet on the Seahawks to win the Super Bowl, consider grabbing the odds while they’re still good.

As far as props concerning the game itself, look primarily for good value bets that involve the Seahawks scoring a lot of points in this game. Even odds for Doug Baldwin to score a touchdown are fine, but +200 for Jermaine Kearse to score, +225 for Tyler Lockett, and +250 for Russell Wilson to rush for a touchdown are all intriguing. Really, anyone on Seattle’s offense could score a touchdown, particularly if we’re predicting that there will be five TDs to go around, so there could be good value in any of those bets.

Of the many prop bets listed at the Bovada sportsbook, there are only a few more that hold positive odds in this matchup, assuming the game plays out exactly as described above. These bets are as follows:

  • Total Successful Field Goals – Rams (Over ½, +155)
  • Margin of Victory – Seahawks by 31-36 points (+1200)
  • Will a special teams or defensive TD be scored? – Yes (+175)

In addition to these bets, consider betting on any of the dozen-or-so individual prop bets for Seattle offensive players, each with close to even odds and each with promise to win. These bets could include:

  • Russel Wilson – Passing Yards (Over 255.5, -130); Touchdown Passes (Over 1.5, -175)
  • Doug Baldwin – Receiving Yards (Over 65.5, -125); Receptions (Over 5.5, -145)
  • Tyler Lockett – Receiving Yards (Over 37.5, -130); Receptions (Over 3, -125)
  • Thomas Rawls – Receiving Yards (Over 12.5, -115); Rushing Yards (Over 75.5, -135)

The only thing to note when considering individual players to wager on is that the Rams’ defense ranks 4th in the league in targets, receptions, and yards allowed to tight ends, and has only given up 4 touchdowns all season to a tight end. So perhaps consider staying away from Jimmy Graham.

Summary: Best Bets

In summary, all signs point towards an epic blowout on Thursday Night Football, with the Seattle Seahawks taking it to the Los Angeles Rams for a score of 38–6.

Best bets for this matchup include the following:

  • The Seahawks ATS (-16, -115)
  • The Over in total score (39, -110)
  • The Margin of Victory – Seahawks by 31-36 points (+1200)
  • Individual prop bets on Seattle’s offensive weapons (Wilson, Baldwin, Lockett, Rawls)

May the odds be in your favor as you bet on this Thursday Night Football Matchup!

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