Baker Mayfield engineered a 14-point comeback victory in his debut with the Rams two Thursdays ago. He returns to prime time Monday night, leading his new team into Lambeau Field to face the Green Bay Packers. While neither team is mathematically eliminated from the postseason, the game doesn’t carry nearly the level of importance that many had hoped for the first time they saw this matchup on the schedule. With both teams essentially playing for pride with an eye on the future, it makes it a little more difficult to handicap. Green Bay hasn’t been a favorite of this size since Week 6, and without Aaron Donald, Matthew Stafford, or Cooper Kupp, the Rams don’t even resemble the team from the first half of the season. However, it’s the only game on the schedule, and there is value at the current number. So let’s dive into this Monday night matchup.

It’s been a struggle for Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers this season. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

If you read any of my preseason predictions for the Panthers, you know I didn’t expect much from the Rams after signing Mayfield. Also, Mayfield’s magical comeback had more to do with Raiders coach Josh McDaniels’ incompetence. My brain tells me Los Angeles has completely packed it in. However, my eyes see a team that has found a new purpose to finish the season strong. I won’t pretend to know what to expect from the Rams, but I can’t lay seven points with the Packers against any team with a pulse. And, if nothing else, the Rams now have a pulse.

Green Bay has failed miserably in the favorite role all season. Aaron Rodgers still owns the Bears, but against the rest of the league, he is 0-6 ATS as a favorite. The Rams have covered as underdogs in consecutive weeks against the Seahawks and Raiders. The foundation of Sean McVay’s offense is the running game, and its lack of success has been the main reason for the offense’s struggles. If there is one team that the Rams can get the running game humming against, it’s the Packers. Green Bay has the league’s worst rush defense, according to Football Outsiders DVOA metric, and ranks last in rush EPA allowed in non-garbage time situations.

Covering a seven-point spread is hard when the opponent can just hand the ball off to move the chains. A sustainable rushing attack allows the Rams to control the tempo and keep Mayfield out of third-and-long, when its pass protection can be exposed. The less they need Mayfield to do in this game, the better their chance of keeping it close. I love a road dog with a strong sustainable rushing attack, so I’m convinced the Rams are the correct betting side. I expect this one to come down to the final minutes, so the chance to capture the key number of seven is far too valuable to pass up against an underperforming favorite like Green Bay.

One-game parlay +1050

If you are putting together a parlay without Christian Watson, seek immediate help. Watson has been a touchdown machine, getting in the end zone seven times over his last four games. The Rams’ secondary has been suspect on the road this year, allowing 272 yards per game, fourth-most in the NFL. We are also banking on A.J. Dillon, who has scored in two consecutive games, to keep getting fed in the red zone. On the Rams’ side, Mayfield won’t be afraid to use his wheels behind one of the worst offensive lines in football. Also, he looks Skowronek’s way when he can get the ball out, targeting him eight times last week. Rounding out the final two legs of the parlay with an investment in Mayfield’s rushing yards and his favorite target’s receptions gets us over a 10-to-1 payout.

Stats provided by Football outsiders, PFF, Rbsdm (based on 90-10 WP),

#hard #trust #Packers #big #favorites

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