Baltimore Ravens at Los Angeles Rams
SPREAD: Ravens -3.5 OVER/UNDER 47.5
Monday Night Football, 8 PM
I see you, Joe Public. You’re absolutely HYPED about the Ravens right now…
You’re looking around and thinking to yourself, “this is money in the bank. The Rams are trash and even they know it. Goff is a terrible quarterback, Gurley is washed up, the offensive line is terrible, and the receivers all have brain damage.”
You’re at the window right now grabbing the Ravens at -3 before the line jumps to four or five. You are, aren’t you? I get it. Lamar is everyone’s darling for the MVP and is the flavor of the month. Everyone who was shitting on Lamar for running so much last year is now riding his jock for reeling off a string of wins and beating the Pats. The defense is live, they just crushed the Texans, and they’re averaging around 200 YPG on the ground. Lamar has weapons all over the field and Jon Harbaugh is capable of out scheming anyone.
I get it. Really, I do. However, I have a theory so indulge me…
Offensive line issues aside, the biggest disappointment with the Rams is Gurley not getting a heavy workload. Well, the fact is that very few running backs can handle 25 or more touches per game. Bill Barnwell and every other sports writer out there repeating the stat head guy bullshit about running backs not being very valuable are completely full of shit and the fact is that McVay made it sparkling clear that he was going to manage his best player’s carries.
Now that we’re in week 12 we got a glimpse last week of what he was talking about. What, did you think it was an accident that Gurley touched the ball 28 times against a really good defense? A lot of headlines were saying it was a turn back the clock night or Gurley flashing his old form, as if he’s Adrian Peterson running for 100 yards at age 36. Sure, he does have a knee condition as does almost every other player in football. It’s just that I think the Rams figured out they needed to literally limit Gurley’s touches no matter what.
Maybe I’m way off, but I’ve been thinking that after they had a diminished Gurley in the Super Bowl they figured it would be wise to keep him fresh until the stretch run. Regardless, for the Rams to win any games they need their offense to run through play action because Goff is just not that great at making second or third read decisions. His biggest problem of late has been hitting wide open guys, but if he gets both Cooks and Woods back this week, it might put him at ease.
Baltimore’s defense gets a ton of praise, but the Rams are right there with them.
The Rams are suddenly pretty healthy on defense with only Micah Kiser and John Johnson out on IR. Aaron Donald is still there occupying two blockers on every play and while Lamar can rip up the open field any time he wants, it’s not his first option. The Ravens love to run the ball straight up and the Rams are fifth against the run. Do not sleep on Wade Phillips. This defense is elite.
Look, I know most everyone who reads this is going to see me advocating for the Rams and call bullshit. I get it, the Ravens are the hottest team in football and playing lights out on both sides of the ball. It’s not really a look ahead spot since they get the Niners at home next week. But this is a test and the Rams have been getting shit on all year because they are not winning 34-7 every week. Remember, save for a miss by Zeurlein in Seattle they’d be 7-3.
I think the Rams control the ball and Gurley sees between 25-30 touches. I think the defense does its job and gets a couple key stops. Yes, I think Lamar will get his, but the Rams hit a couple plays on defense and sack him twice. I think it stays close all game and both teams trade punches with the ground games being key for both sides. Baltimore will do everything it can to put the game in Goff’s hands and he’ll make maybe three great throws all game. I think the Rams win at home.
MONDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL PICK: RAMS +3.5 & UNDER 47.5
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