Submitted by Wayne Root on Friday, November 24, 2017 at 4:00 PM
The Los Angeles Rams face what might be their most important test of the 2017 NFL season Sunday when they host the New Orleans Saints. While the rejuvenated Rams have excited locals (and many in Las Vegas) with their big improvement this season, there’s a chance this team is still mostly a pretender in terms of the playoffs.
Why would I say such a thing about a team with a 7-3 record? Only three of those 10 games came against teams who are likely to be in the upcoming postseason. The Rams’ offense looked pretty awful in those three games.
*LA Rams (-1.5) lost at home to Seattle 16-10. Seattle isn’t having one of its vintage seasons either. In that one, the Rams turned the ball over FIVE times. Jared Goff threw 25 incomplete passes, which is very high for a low scoring NFL game. This result could loom very large in a few weeks too. If the Rams can’t win the rematch up north…then Seattle will own the head-to-head tie-breaker. And, there’s a decent chance those two will end up with the same record.
*LA Rams (+1.5) won at Jacksonville 27-17, but scored on a kickoff return TD and a blocked punt return TD. The offense only scored 13 points, with Goff posting a woeful passing line of 11-21-0-107. Special teams’ points are very tough to “rely” on in the future, particularly after opponents see what you’re capable of. Don’t assume the Rams will be able to win on the road in January just because they won at Jacksonville (while getting outgained 389-249)
*LA Rams (+2.5) lost at Minnesota 24-7, losing total yardage 451-254. This was much like the Jacksonville game without the lucky special teams’ points. Goff couldn’t move the ball effectively and the offense only found the end zone once. Worse, the Rams couldn’t even score in garbage time. You saw on Thanksgiving that the Lions were able to score some second half points against the same defense.
That’s a 1-2 record (straight up and ATS) that probably should be 0-3, with an offense that’s only put 10, 13, and 7 points on the scoreboard. This new coaching staff can certainly bully bad teams. The schedule-makers gifted them with a lot of games against bad teams! In order, Indianapolis, Washington (a home loss to a non-playoff team), San Francisco, disappointing Dallas, Arizona, NY Giants, Houston. The win over the Cowboys turned out not to be as impressive as thought at the time. The early loss to Washington looks worse now.
Frankly, there’s a very good chance the Rams are just a .500 caliber team, that would be 5-5 if they had played a fair schedule. Still a big step forward from the Jeff Fisher era. But, not quite worthy of their recent hype.
And, THAT’S why they’re laying less than a field goal at home! The market is only partially influenced by hype. Last week’s poor result in Minnesota was a wake-up call. New Orleans has been in great form of late, though they did fall back to earth last week in a tough sandwich spot. The Rams will see the best of the Saints this Sunday. Can they beat them?
WAYNE ALLYN ROOT can’t post selections here in web articles. That information is for my paying clients. But, I can tell you that I’ll be studying this game closely up until my picks are released. This could easily be an upset call on New Orleans (if the game doesn’t steam to pick-em Sunday morning). Though, I will post small favorites in my ROOT TRUST if I believe there’s value. If my sources in LA are telling me that the Rams are planning to make this a statement game after last week’s embarrassment…then I might be stepping out very hard on the short favorite. So few games land on 2 that the line really doesn’t matter. Either the Saints are going to win outright while formally exposing a pretender. Or, the Rams are going to win by at least a touchdown as they make sure everyone knows their hat is still in the ring.
I hope you’re having an enjoyable Thanksgiving Weekend so far. Plenty of money still left to be won because THE KING OF LAS VEGAS doesn’t release leftovers!
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