NFL Picks: Jaguars vs. Rams in Week 5

Doug Upstone

Wednesday, October 2, 2013 8:48 PM UTC

Wednesday, Oct. 2, 2013 8:48 PM UTC

There are facelifts gone badly like Donnatella Versace and then there are games like the Jaguars and the Rams. NFL football handicappers have to cringe with a matchup like this, yet somebody will be on the winning side, so let’s explore how we might arrive at answer.

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Winner Winner, Chicken Dinner

Jacksonville and St. Louis are covering all spectrums of the NFL odds universe, with each posting a 0-4 spread record.

The Jaguars are not only losing by 24.5 points a contest, they are failing to even reach a push against the betting odds by more than 16.6 point a game. This is not easy to do in the NFL.

While most teams do a full-scale evaluation of their personnel and schemes at the bye week when they have the time, first-year coach Gus Bradley is already implementing this process, which suggests a higher power is already placing pressure on the head man a quarter of the way into the season.

Sportsbooks have made the assumption the Rams should be competitive with their spread ranging from -3.5 to +4 after four tries. Nevertheless, Jeff Fisher’s squad is 0-4 ATS and has lost its last two games by 24 points in each instance. 

Presumably, one team will cover the spread this week.

Where Do the Solutions Come From

The Jacksonville offense is the least cohesive unit in the NFL. The myriad of negative numbers all point to how dysfunctional this group is. Even when Blaine Gabbert or Chad Henne throws an accurate pass, the person on the other end seems to be dropping it or having it go off their hands.

The offense line cannot open a cup of soup let alone a hole for a running back. And the backs have become skittish in anticipating no creases will be available to run through.

The St. Louis offense is a collection of average to below average players and it is fair to say, there might not be more than two players who would start on other teams and that includes Sam Bradford who continues to regress.

Both defenses are surrendering over 30 points a game and continually take poor angles for tackling or do a miserable job reading keys.

What can the head coaches and their staffs do to improve, not much with the available talent. They can only stress fundamentals, preach for full effort and hope to catch a few breaks.

NFL Betting Odds and Matchup Numbers

This will be the fourth-ever contest between these teams, with St. Louis 2-1 and owning a trio of covers. The Rams have been established as 12-point home favorites and those making sports picks have lowered them to 11.5 points at about half the wagering outlets I checked.

The last time St. Louis was a double digit favorite was 2004, when Mike Martz was still the coach.

I get the impression the total of 41.5 might be an immoveable object.


What does Jacksonville do to cover?

The Rams are 30th against the run. This is the perfect opportunity for the Jacksonville offensive line to smack somebody and have success. If Maurice Jones-Drew can start to feel like he can run, the offense can gain tractions.

The return of Justin Blackmon adds talent if not good route-running, but it relieves the pressure on Cecil Shorts who has not played well as the No. 1 option.

The defense has to keep the pressure on Bradford, who is looking skittish in the pocket.

What does St. Louis do to cover?

Be aggressive in play-calling and jump on Jacksonville from the start. Push the ball down the field and make the Jaguars cover in the secondary. The O-Line has not played well, yet if they can snag an early substantial lead, Fisher can start working on the running game instead of playing behind the entire contest.

St. Louis does not have to do anything special on defense, other than prevent the big play. It is extremely unlikely the Jaguars can put together long drives without making mistakes.

Final Outcome

Though it is bad form to ask a terrible team to cover a large spread, St. Louis only has to look at the schedule and know this is their opportunity to win a game in decided fashion and build a positive vibe. Consider the Rams for your NFL picks.

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NFL Pick: Take the Rams minus the points, -11 (-110) available at William Hill

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