NFL Picks for St. Louis Rams at Philadelphia Eagles

Matthew Jordan

Monday, September 29, 2014 7:04 PM GMT

Monday, Sep. 29, 2014 7:04 PM GMT

The Rams look to get to .500 this Sunday in Philadelphia, and they had an extra week to prepare for the Eagles as St. Louis was off in Week 4. However, Philly opened as a 7-point favorite on BetOnline's NFL odds. The total is set at 47.5.

Back To Hill For Rams?
Some people liked St. Louis as a dark-horse playoff team this season, although that outlook pretty much changed when starting quarterback Sam Bradford tore his ACL in the preseason. Predictably, the Rams struggled offensively in their first two games, but they may have found a keeper at QB in undrafted Austin Davis. He replaced an injured Shaun Hill in the opening loss to Minnesota, and Davis has started the past two games and gotten better. The Rams lost to Dallas 34-31 last time out, but Davis was pretty good, completing 30 of 42 for 327  yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions. St. Louis blew a 21-0 second-quarter lead in that one. Yet Davis might not even start this game. Coach Jeff Fisher continues to say that Hill remains his starter when healthy, and he is on track to return. St. Louis is expecting back receiver Tavon Austin, last year's first-round pick. He missed Week 3 with a knee injury.

While the Rams have a Top-10 passing attack (ninth at 264.3 ypg) they aren't great running the ball at 104.0 yards per game. Defensively, St. Louis is excellent against the pass at No. 3 overall but not against the run, ranking 30th in allowing 155.0 yards per game. Rookie first-round defensive tackle Aaron Donald has been about as good as advertised out of Pitt. Even though he has played an average of only 25.3 snaps per game, the team credits him with 16 tackles (three for loss) and a sack. That's the only sack the Rams have as a team. Pro Football Focus also grades Donald as the Rams' best defender thus far with a grade of 5.9 against the run. The team's other 2014 first-rounder, offensive tackle Greg Robinson, hasn't played yet despite being the No. 2 overall selection. That pick was the final payment from Washington in the Robert Griffin III trade.

 

Eagles Pushed Around By Niners
Philadelphia dropped from the ranks of the unbeatens on Sunday in a 26-21 loss at desperate San Francisco. The Eagles had just 11 first downs and 213 total yards while committing 10 penalties and turning it over four times. Nick Foles looked like an NFL MVP favorite in Philly's first three games, but he wasn't good against the Niners, completing 21 of 43 for 195 yards with no touchdowns and two interceptions. Philadelphia stayed close to San Francisco thanks to scores via blocked punt, interception return and punt return. After scoring 74 second-half points in their three wins, the Eagles were held scoreless in the second half by the 49ers.

And what on earth is wrong with LeSean McCoy? Last year he led the NFL in rushing and set a franchise record with 1,607 yards. This season he has 192 yards on 70 carries, a pitiful 2.7 yards-per-carry average. McCoy has totaled 39 yards on the ground in the past two games. He is the first running back since Jamal Lewis in 2004 to have fewer than 40 yards combined in consecutive games the season after winning the NFL rushing title. The Eagles have been hit hard with injuries on the offensive line. The good news is starting right tackle Lane Johnson will play this week. The No. 4 overall pick in 2013 was suspended the first four games. Center Jason Kelce and left guard Evan Mathis are out until at least November. All five starters started every game in 2013. No other team could say that.

Meanwhile, the Eagles also need to fix their run defense. The 49ers ran for 218 yards Sunday, the most given up by the Eagles since the Giants rushed for 219 yards in 2008. Philly ranks 26th against the rush. They fell to 1-37-1 in 39 games since 1978 when opponents run the ball 42 or more times.

St. Louis and Philadelphia haven't played since 2011, so history will do little for aiding our NFL picks.

NFL free picks: Give the points, especially before it jumps to 7.5, and go 'over' the total. The Eagles are 1-1 ATS at home this year and both games went 'over' the line posted on the Week 5 NFL odds boards. The Rams are 1-0 ATS on the road and that game went 'under.'

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