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Submitted by Jim Hurley on Monday, December 12, 2011 at 9:17 AM

The St. Louis Rams visiting the Seattle Seahawks isn't exactly the most riveting Monday Night game of the year. But, the matchup does give us a chance to check in on a team that's stayed mostly off the radar this season. Some pundits were picking the St. Louis Rams to win the NFC West this year. We're now a few weeks away from the Rams actually qualifying for the #2 or #3 pick in next summer's NFL draft.

They just picked Sam Bradford #1 in the draft two years ago!

Should the Rams embarrass themselves tonight in Seattle...and over the final month of the season...we may be looking at a complete overhaul with the franchise. The head coach has been a major disappointment. The hotshot quarterback isn't developing at all. Management has shown no ability to recognize talent and surround Bradford with weaponry. It may be time to start from scratch, AGAIN.

It's easy to forget that last year's team almost made the playoffs. St. Louis tied Seattle with a 7-9 record that registered first place in the woeful NFC West. That came after a season finale where Seattle beat St. Louis to claim the crown. St. Louis wins that game...and they're in the playoffs. Now, with the re-emergence of San Francisco as a divisional power...St. Louis looks like they're at least 4-5 years away from the playoffs.

Consider:

  • St. Louis is in last place right now in the NFC West

  • St. Louis just played their divisional rivals in their last three games

  • St. Louis lost those matchups by a combined 73-27 even though two of the meetings were at home

  • St. Louis lost at home to John Skelton of Arizona!

  • Bradford played in all three of those games

That's as bleak as it gets. Look at the total yardage just in those three games:
Seattle 289, St. Louis 185
Arizona 374, St. Louis 272
San Francisco 389, St. Louis 157

They were about 100 yards worse than Seattle and Arizona in home games (!), and then well over 200 yards worse than San Francisco on the road.

It can be dicey blaming Bradford for too much of what's going on. He really doesn't have much to work with....and it may be hard to develop on a team that has a defensive-minded head coach. Still, Bradford was supposed to be much further along than Andy Dalton of Cincinnati at this point. Remember how everyone was saying Dalton had nothing to work with in Cincinnati? The Bengals are a playoff contender, and Dalton is making high impact plays week after week. Cam Newton looked better in his first two games at Carolina than Bradford has ever looked for St. Louis.

Tim Tebow can't even throw a spiral and he's winning games after his team traded away a top receiver!!!

It may be time to accept that the Sam Bradford-Colt McCoy tandem from the Big 12 entered the NFL with may too much optimism about their futures, and not enough recognition of their weaknesses. Sure, they were better than Jimmy Clausen out of Notre Dame that year. Who knew Jon Gruden's first quarterback camp was dealing with so many lemons?!

Amongst Bradford's passing lines this season:
16-32-1-132 vs. Baltimore
20-42-0-127 vs. Washington
15-26-1-148 at Cleveland
20-40-1-143 vs. Seattle
17-32-0-186 vs. Arizona
12-22-1-126 at San Francisco

This is a high octane year in NFL passing stats...at least in terms of starting quarterbacks playing when they're healthy (Tyler Palko and Caaleb Hanie have been hurting league stats lately!). It seemingly takes a miracle for Bradford to get past 150 yards after sack yardage is subtracted out (we're using team passing lines above).

St. Louis is 2-10. Look at what's left:
Tonight: road underdog at Seattle
Dec. 18: home underdog to Cincinnati in must-win game for Bengals
Dec. 24: big road underdog at Pittsburgh
Jan. 1: vs. San Francisco

They're best hope to be competitive is that Pittsburgh and San Francisco rest their starters because nothing's at stake. That's more likely in the finale vs. the 49ers than it is vs. Pittsburgh given the battle for byes in the AFC.

We're looking at a 2-14 finish as the most likely scenario...which means the Rams are neck-and-neck with Minnesota for the spot behind Indy in the draft order. Hello RG3?!

Of course, you can't just assume a Seattle win is safe. Let's run through our standard indicator numbers to help you handicap this final NFL game of Week 14.

DRIVE POINTS PER GAME (scored and allowed on 60 yards or more)
St. Louis: 5.3 on offense, 12.8 on defense
Seattle: 8.8 on offense, 10.3 on defense

Big edge for the Seahawks, as -1.5 is still a lot better than -7.5 even if it's a negative number. St. Louis has the worst Drive Point offense in the league this year. Worse than anemic. Seattle isn't exactly setting the world on fire themselves. It's interesting that Seattle has the better defensive numbers even though the Rams have a reputation for defense. When these teams played a few weeks ago, Seattle won Drive Points by only a 3-0 margin, but cashed in Cheap Point opportunities in a 24-7 rout.

THIRD DOWN CONVERSIONS
St. Louis: 28% on offense, 39% on defense
Seattle: 33% on offense, 37% on defense

This is like a horror movie that just keeps getting worse and worse. St. Louis doesn't have the vaguest idea how to convert third downs...and opposing defenses seem to know exactly what to do whenever Bradford has third and medium or third and long. Seattle has struggled too, but looks like world beaters in comparison. Seahawks coach Pete Carroll still seems to be in over his head at this level. It's amazing that he could finish 1st and 2nd in this division in consecutive years while never really putting anything together that's worth getting excited about.

TURNOVER DIFFERENTIAL
St. Louis: -5 (15 takeaways, 20 giveaways)
Seattle: +4 (23 takeaways, 19 giveaways)

As conservative as St. Louis plays, they're still getting the worst of it in the turnover category. Seattle has done a good job here, and it's helped hide some of their other weaknesses.

We should note that Seattle hasn't played since last Thursday in that big home win over Vince Young and Philadelphia. That's like having half a bye week! You don't get a bigger lead-in time to a game than that...Thursday to Monday...without a bye in hand. Like St. Louis needed any other bad breaks to get in their way.

JIM HURLEY knows that the Rams have been horrible this year. But, he also knows tonight's price is fairly high for a mediocre home favorite. And, divisional revenge does count for something, even in the worst divisions. He'll either have an ugly dog or an ugly favorite for you in this one...and he'll throw in a bonus basketball pick if one grades out. Don't forget that great rates are available for our BLUE RIBBON BASKETBALL here at the website or in the office at 1-800-323-4453.

Today's a good day to call the office at check on bowl rates too. The bowls officially get underway this Saturday with a tripleheader in New Mexico, Idaho, and New Orleans.

Monday's the most important wagering day of the week in Las Vegas. BE SURE YOU SPEND IT WITH JIM HURLEY'S NETWORK!

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