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Oddsmakers are good at what they do. No team in the NFL is currently winless against the spread. Only the Dallas Cowboys are perfect against the spread. The same applies to the totals market. Currently, the Los Angeles Rams are the only team to have each of their first four games go over the total.
The general public loves betting overs. Rooting for fun, excitement and points is natural human nature. If you enjoy rooting for third down stops and punts, you're slightly abnormal. What has made the Rams an over team, and can we expect it to continue?
The Matthew Stafford effect
The Rams have been a good NFL team for years. They were in the Super Bowl three seasons ago. However, we always knew that they were being held back by Jared Goff. Sean McVay is a brilliant offensive mind, and his system made Goff look much more capable than he actually was. At the same time, Goff never allowed us to see the full potential of McVay's offensive mind.
With Matthew Stafford now at the controls, we're seeing how prolific this passing attack can be. The Rams are averaging 8.8 yards per pass attempt, the third best mark in the league. They're averaging 298 yards per game through the air, the fourth best mark of any team in the league.
Offensively, Los Angeles ranks 4th in yards-per-play and 4th in points-per-play. This demonstrates their ability to move the ball and finish drives with points. This is highlighted by their 54.4% success rate on third down, the second best mark in football.
The Brandon Staley effect
Brandon Staley is now the head coach of the Los Angeles Chargers. Last year, he was the defensive coordinator for the Rams and his defense produced insane results.
Coming into the season, the Rams replaced Staley with Raheem Morris. In an effort to continue the defensive domination from last season, Morris elected to keep Staley's defensive system in place and attempt to learn it on the fly.
This hasn't worked out overly well to begin the year. The Rams are allowing opposing offenses to gain 396.8 yards per game, the 27th best mark in the league. They're allowing opponents to convert on 50% of third downs. They're giving up 24.8 points per game and 5.7 yards per play, both ranking below league average.
In addition to losing Staley, the Rams lost John Johnson, Troy Hill and Michael Brockers from last year's roster. It's a thinner group and the coach is learning the system as he goes. Perception might be that the Rams defense is still the elite version we saw last year, but that hasn't been the case.
Up next for the Rams
Exciting Thursday night football games are the best. Most of the time, we get some mediocre matchup that we enjoy solely because it's primetime football. That's not the case this week.
The Los Angeles Rams are 2-point road favorites against the Seattle Seahawks. The total for this game is currently 54.5 points at BetMGM. This is the second highest total on the Week 5 slate behind the Buffalo-Kansas City game on Sunday night.
On paper, this game has all the makings of a shootout. Offensively, the Seahawks are averaging 6.6 yards per play, the second best mark in the league. They score touchdowns on 90% of their red zone possessions. Russell Wilson is averaging 8.9 yards per pass, the second best mark in the league.
Defensively, it's been a struggle for the Seahawks. They're allowing 4.6 yards per rush and 7.5 yards per pass, both bottom ten marks in the league. Opponents are averaging 444.5 yards per game against Seattle, making the Seahawks the worst defense in football in terms of yardage allowed.
The two main concerns for the over would be the fact that it's a divisional game and it's a short week. Familiarity often slows down offenses and short weeks can simplify offensive game plans. Even with those concerns, I'd lean toward the over. The Rams can definitely make it five straight overs to open the season.
Stats from TeamRankings.com.