Week 5 Thursday Night Football Betting Primer: Rams at Seahawks

LA Rams Offense vs Seattle Defense:

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  • Jared Goff was 45/68 for 517 yards, 2 TDs, and 3 INTs last week in a loss against Tampa Bay. His box score looked great, but he clearly struggled
  • In his last six road games and the Superbowl, Goff has struggled. In those games he has completed 57% of his passes for an average of 226 yards per game, 6.1 yards per attempt, 5 TDs and 8 INTs
  • Goff has only thrown more than two TDs once in his last 12 road and neutral games
  • While Goff has struggled lately, Rams running backs rank second in success rate this season
  • Among RBs with at least 20 attempts this season, Malcolm Brown ranks third in success rate at 60% and Todd Gurley ranks ninth at 55%
  • The Seattle defense has been ok against the run, ranking 13th in success rate defending the run and 15th in explosive runs allowed. It should be noted the Seahawks have faced the sixth-easiest schedule of opponent run offenses by yards per carry. Seattle’s defensive line is 21st in Adjusted Line Yards, per Football Outsiders. The Rams will be by far the most difficult opponent from an offensive running game 
  • The Rams’ offensive line has been very bad so far this year, especially the interior of that line. The OL ranks 32nd in run blocking and 31sr in pass blocking, according to PFF. Andrew Whitworth is the only Rams OL to rank above average in pass blocking and none of the Rams OL ranks above average in run blocking
  • Fortunately for the Rams, Seattle ranks 24th in pass rush grade by PFF. Jadaveon Clowney is the only Seattle pass rusher with a PFF grade above 70
  • An area the Rams might exploit is in the passing game to its RBs out of the backfield. The Seattle defense has given up the eighth-highest target share to RBs and has allowed the third-highest yards per attempt. After starting the season with virtually no targets, Gurley exploded for 11 targets, 7 receptions, and 54 yards. Don’t be surprised to see Goff target Gurley again a lot out of the backfield to combat a poor OL in a noisy environment 
  • Cooper Kupp has been by far the most productive Rams wide receiver. Kupp has excelled out of the slot, producing the fourth-highest yards per route run in the NFL at 2.35. He has caught 27 balls for 312 yards and 2 TDs from the slot this year



Seattle Offense vs LA Rams Defense:

  • Russell Wilson is having an excellent season so far completing 73% of his passes with 8 TDs, 0 INTs and an impressive 8.6 yards per attempt. Wilson is also averaging 285 yards per game
  • As great as Wilson has been, he has faced pass defenses that currently rank 31stt, 26th, 22nd, and 19th in DVOA pass defensive rankings. The Rams pass defense sits 13th in DVOA.
  • Historically Wilson has struggled a bit against the Rams defense. In his last six starts against the Rams, he averaged 199.5 passing yards and has not topped 200 passing yards in his last four starts against the Rams. He has averaged only 6.3 yards per attempt in his last four against the Rams
  • Chris Carson is averaging 3.5 receptions per game. During the preseason, Seattle offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer promised Carson would receive 50 targets this season and he has delivered on that promise. At this current pace, Carson will see 60 targets
  • Against the Rams pass rush, especially Aaron Donald, short quick throws would be expected, and Carson should benefit 
  • The Rams have allowed 12 targets in the last two games to RBs out of the backfield
  • Will Dissly has been excellent so far this season, averaging 6 receptions for 56 yards in his last three games. He has also caught four TDs in that span
  • The Rams defense is seventh in success rate defending TEs and has allowed the third-lowest yards per attempt. The Rams have faced some good TEs including Greg Olsen, Jared Cook, and O.J. Howard

ATS Side I like tonight: LA Rams +1.5 -110 (5dimes):

I have gone 4-0 ats on TNF this season so a lot of pressure to get this right. I do like the Rams +1.5 tonight and think based on recency bias, the market is over-punishing the Rams for one bad performance last week against Tampa Bay. The look-ahead line prior to Sunday’s game was LA -1.5 over Seattle and now the Rams sit at +1.5. This three-point swing in just a couple of days with no injury issue I believe is an overreaction.

Let’s step back for a moment and think about the circumstances of that Rams game against the Bucs. LA had just come off a hard-fought, emotional win against the Browns on Sunday night. Then they had to fly all the way back to the west coast and prepare for a game against Tampa. All the while, knowing that the Rams had a huge divisional game against their biggest current rival in Seattle on a short week coming up. Is it impossible to believe the Rams and McVay didn’t spend all their time preparing for their game against Tampa and could have possibly been overlooking the Bucs in advance of tonight’s big showdown in Seattle? Impossible to know for sure but it does all line-up. I tend to toss out random, bad performances like what the Rams showed on Sunday and instead focus on the longer sample.

From a pure matchup perspective, I believe the Rams line up well against Seattle. The Seahawks struggle protecting Wilson and the Rams’ ferocious DL, especially Aaron Donald, will be motivated to come out and attack after that poor performance last week. Donald has 6.5 sacks and 10 QB hits in his last three against  Seattle. The secondary which had been playing very well prior to the Bucs game should also be motivated to prove that last Sunday was a fluke. As noted above, Wilson doesn’t typically have big games against this Rams defense and Wade Philips in general.

On the other side of the ball, Wilson is fifth in the NFL in passing yards per attempt and the Seahawks have produced 15 explosive pass plays. When you dig a little deeper, you will see the Seahawks have faced the third-easiest schedule of opposing pass defenses in the NFL. Considering they faced poor secondaries like Arizona, New Orleans, and Cincinnati, going up against the 11th best pass defense, based on success rate will be a much tougher task. The Rams have also allowed the fewest explosive pass plays.

Yes, Goff has struggled on the road in his last few games, but I fully expect McVay to run the ball more often to take pressure off Goff as well as incorporating Gurley and Brown into the passing game. Seattle’s defense doesn’t have the formula necessary to take advantage of the weakness of the Rams. They don’t create much pressure up front and their secondary has been getting torched by mediocre QBs. Any time you allow Andy Dalton to throw for over 400 yards on you, it should be a warning sign.

So far this year all four underdogs have covered and won outright on Thursday night. I noted this last week when backing the Eagles but this perception that home favorites have a huge advantage on TNF is a bit of a fallacy. Historically, home favorites on Thursday nights have performed much better later in the season as injuries start piling up and motivation becomes an issue.

Looking at the last five seasons, home favorites have won 57% of their games in the first 6 weeks of the season on Thursday night and have gone 9-10-1 ats (47%). After Week 6, home favorites have won 86% of those games and are 20-8-1 ats (71%).  Seeing as how this is an in division game and both teams know each other very well, I wouldn’t expect there to be any major disadvantage for the Rams. I will take the Rams outright 26-20.