Rams vs. Patriots Odds & Picks: Betting This Thursday Night Football Total
Getty Images. Pictured: Cam Newton, Aaron Donald
Rams vs. Patriots Odds
A few weeks ago, the battle between who deserves more credit for the Patriots dynasty looked all but over: With the Patriots sitting at 2-5, many wondered if it was Tom Brady carrying Bill Belichick over the past 20 years. But after winning four of their last five games, including a 45-0 drubbing of the Chargers, those talks have quieted as the Patriots now sit at 6-6.
Given the short week, the Patriots elected to stay in Los Angeles after playing the Chargers at Sofi Stadium, practicing at UCLA to prepare for their Thursday Night Football matchup against the Rams, who have emerged as a legitimate contender in the NFC.
The Rams have beaten two of the conference’s top tier teams in the Buccaneers and Seahawks, winning three out of the last four games to sit at 8-4 after last week’s victory over the Cardinals. Now, Sean McVay and Jared Goff hope to overcome demons from their loss to Belichick in the Super Bowl two seasons ago.
Let’s find out where the betting value lies!
New England Patriots
The box score of the Patriots’ shutout of the Chargers might be one of the most fascinating we’ll see all season — New England was the beneficiary of two special teams touchdowns, a punt return for a touchdown and a blocked field goal return for a touchdown as the offense truly didn’t have to break a sweat.
Although Cam Newton made his standard impact as a dual-threat weapon, rushing 14 times for 48 yards and two touchdowns, he completed 12-of-19 passes for only 69 yards and a touchdown . Since 2000, there have been just 25 games in which a starting quarterback has thrown for fewer than 70 yards with more than 15 pass attempts and still led his team to victory. The last time? In 2012, Christian Ponder completed 8-of-17 passes for 58 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions as Adrian Peterson led the Vikings to a 21-14 victory over the Cardinals with 23 carries for 153 yards and a touchdown.
Similar to the Peterson-led Vikings, the Patriots have a dominant run game that allows them to run an efficient offense even if Newton isn’t lighting up the stat sheet like your typical modern day quarterback.
The Patriots are rushing for 4.6 yards per carry and 150.9 yards per game. They also have the NFL’s highest run vs. pass frequency (53% vs. 47%) while maintaining a 47.8% success rate and 0.070 rushing expected points added per play, both which rank first in the league.
The Patriots will face one of the league’s better rush defenses on Thursday night, so Newton will need to continue the efficient play he’s exhibited over the last six weeks. Since getting benched in their 33-6 loss to the 49ers, Newton has a completion percentage of 66.2% and a rating of 87.7, both which are above his season averages.
Free agency losses and COVID-19 opt-outs have plagued the defense all season, but this unit is actually trending upward. They’ve held the Ravens, Texans, Cardinals and Chargers to 17, 20, 17 and 0 points over the past four weeks, all well below each team’s standard offensive outputs.
Although the Patriots’ performance against the Ravens was aided by poor weather, we’ve witnessed significant improvement from Belichick’s defense: Through the first nine weeks of the season, the defense allowed a 51.2% success rate that ranked dead last in the NFL. Since Week 10, however, they rank 10th in defensive success rate (43%).
A key factor coming into this matchup is how Belichick schemed against Goff and McVay in Super Bowl 53: The Patriots held a Rams offense that averaged 32.9 points per game over the season to only three points and 260 yards of total offense en route to a 13-3 victory and sixth Super Bowl ring.
Los Angeles Rams
When handicapping games featuring Goff, there’s are a couple key questions to answer: Is he on the road? Will he face pressure?
Although he’s not on the road this Thursday, we should expect the Patriots to bring pressure — especially with the absence of Rams left tackle Andrew Whitworth (knee), Pro Football Focus’ fourth-highest graded offensive linemen.
In that Super Bowl meeting, Belichick’s defense sacked Goff four times and implemented a blitz-heavy scheme that had the quarterback out of rhythm all game. During the 52.4% of his drop backs in which he was blitzed, Goff completed only 9-of-19 passes for 118 yards and one interception according to Next Gen Stats.
Goff has already had a chance to overcome his Super Bowl demons this season: In Week 8, when he matched up against former Patriots defensive play-caller and Belichick disciple, Dolphins head coach Brian Flores. Goff failed miserably, completing 35-of 61 passes for 355 yards and one touchdown, two interceptions and two fumbles — one which was returned for a score. The Dolphins blitzed Goff on 50.8% of his dropbacks and he completed only 14-of-30 passes for 155 yards and one touchdown.
Goff had six interceptions and four fumbles between Weeks 8 and 12, but now he’s coming off a 37-of-47 performance for 351 yards with one touchdown and zero turnovers against the Cardinals. Fortunately the Rams, they have a solid rushing offense that ranks sixth in rushing success rate (43.0%) and averages 124.2 yards per game to help take the take the pressure off Goff.
With the Rams having the ninth-highest run vs. pass ratio (44% vs. 56%), we should expect a lot of runs and short passes to negate the Patriots attempts to pressure Goff.
Aaron Donald is the odds-on favorite to win Defensive Player of the Year — he’s PFF’s highest-graded defender (93.0) and has 11 sacks, 22 quarterback hits, nine tackles for loss and four forced fumbles. He leads a Rams defense that’s fourth in sacks (36) and takeaways this season (20).
The transition to first-year defensive coordinator Brandon Staley has been a success — the Rams are fourth in points allowed (20.3), fifth in defensive efficiency, fourth against the rush and ninth against the pass. This unit is also ranked fourth in expected points added per play and defensive success rate (40.2%) while allowing the second-lowest percentage of opponent third down conversions (35.29%).
The Patriots face a tough test on the ground as the Rams are allowing just 93.1 rushing yards per game and 3.9 yards per carry, third and sixth in the league.
The Patriots are 8-4 to the under this season, tied for second among NFL teams. Their four overs have come against the Seahawks, Raiders, Bills and Jets, who rank 22nd, 24th, 16th and 21st in Football Outsiders’ defensive DVOA. And in terms of defensive points per game, none of those teams rank lower than 18th.
The Rams are a much more stingy defense and have managed to limit prolific offenses like the Russell Wilson-led Seahawks to 16 points and the Dak Prescott-led Cowboys to 17 points, both of which were averaging more than 30 points per game. Ironically, the Rams tied for second as they’re also 8-4 to the under this season.
Games featuring the Patriots simply have a slower pace than the rest of the league: They have the highest run vs. pass ratio, but they also play at the 22nd-ranked pace at 28.21 seconds snap-to-snap. In the first half of games, the Patriots are playing at the third-slowest pace at 29.39 seconds snap-to-snap. And without a high flying offense, it’s no coincidence that the Patriots have scored more than 23 points just four times this season.
Interestingly enough, the Patriots face the third-highest run vs. pass ratio in the league (46% vs. 54%) and allow a 55% success rate on rushing plays. It’s no surprise that with teams running so efficiently against the Patriots, they have the slowest defensive pace in the league at 28.85 seconds snap-to-snap.
With the Rams’ top-five defense against a Patriots offense that’s ranked only 19th in explosive pass play rate — and with Belichick’s history of outclassing McVay and Goff — this feels like a low-scoring game.
My projections make this total 42.5 points, so I’ll play the under here.
PICK: Under 44.5