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Be Wary of Big Spread

NFL Trap Game of the Week

Despite losing three on the trot, the Los Angeles Rams emerge as the biggest favorites on the NFL odds board in Week 13 of the NFL season.

Granted, a date with the woeful Jacksonville Jaguars (2-9) can do that for a team, raising their stock value in the betting and quite substantially. But the market’s insistence to overlook the Rams’ failings over the last few weeks could come at the expense of bettors buying what they’re selling at the sportsbook exchange.


Markets went to press with the Rams (7-4) tipped as the 12½-point home chalk, but the line jumped out to 13 as bettors pounded the Rams for their early wagers. At the time of writing, 85 percent  of bets coming down the wire are going toward Sean McVay’s star-studded cast.

Overwhelmingly, the expectation is that the Rams will get back on track against the Jaguars, who are undeniably one of the worst teams in the league. On paper, this is the get-right game the Rams need right now. The three-game losing streak has come at a premium and set back McVay’s side in the NFC race.

Insofar as getting the “W” in the win column here is going to be a priority, the Rams also have an all-mighty clash with the Arizona Cardinals the following week, one that they’re going to be desperate to win too. That could be a distraction, especially if they’re caught looking too far ahead.

The Jaguars might not be going anywhere this offseason, save for the golf courses of Florida. But they did make a splash a few weeks back by orchestrating an upset over Buffalo, defeating the highly-fancied Bills (-14½) in a 9-6 win. This doesn’t mean that the Jaguars will enjoy a giant killing spree at SoFi Stadium this weekend — although, nothing is entirely impossible — but they could give the Rams a run for their money to defy the odds.

Jaguars vs. Rams Betting Preview

Jacksonville Sliding

After delivering one of the biggest upsets of the season over the Bills, the Jaguars slipped back into their losing ways. They bring a three-game losing streak to Tinseltown, which includes losses to the Indianapolis Colts, the San Francisco 49ers and the Atlanta Falcons.

The Jaguars covered as 10½-point road underdogs in a 23-17 loss to the Colts. The losses to the Niners and Falcons were missed covers for the Jaguars, but that fact might have a lot to do with the rather understated point spreads bookmakers rolled out in betting online markets. The Niners were merely 6½-point road favorites while the Falcons were just 1½-point road favorites.

Overall, the Jaguars are 4-7-0 against the spread with a 10-point losing margin on average and a -4½ differential versus the spread. As the road team, the Jaguars are 2-2-0 ATS with a 12-point losing margin on average and a -7.6 differential versus the spread.

Only four times this season have the Jaguars lost by more than 13 points: by 16 in a 37-21 loss to the Houston Texans, by 18 in a 37-19 loss to the Tennessee Titans, by 24 in a 31-7 loss to the Seattle Seahawks and by 20 in a 30-10 loss to the Niners.

The Jaguars’ failure to take advantage of a porous Falcons defense and up-and-down Matt Ryan-inspired offense probably contributed to the market outlook for their date with the Rams. On one side, the Jaguars outgained the Falcons, but they scored merely 14 points. Turnovers reared their ugly head again as rookie quarterback Trevor Lawrence tossed an interception and James Robinson fumbled the ball to set up the Falcons with an easy ensuing touchdown.

Turnover Stafford

Speaking of turnovers, Matthew Stafford is the epitome of the gift that keeps on giving. In the last three games, he’s had multiple turnovers in each. In total, he’s thrown five interceptions — three of which were returned for pick-sixes. In the 38-22 defeat to the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field last Sunday, he threw one interception and had a fumble lost that led to an Aaron Rodgers touchdown.

To say that this wasn’t in the script for Los Angeles’ glitterarti is an understatement. The Rams were the vogue NFL pick going into the season to win Super Bowl 56. The honeymoon phase of the marriage between McVay and Stafford was going so well. And McVay’s “win-now” trade moves were the talk of the punditocracy, which only further underscored the Rams’ contender credentials.

Few saw quite such a nosedive in form coming or the re-emergence of the dreaded Detroit Lions version of Stafford in LA. If there’s a bright side to these last few weeks, it’s the fact that the Rams still control their destiny in the playoff race. However, a loss against the Jaguars would put a spanner in the works, never mind it would force a rethink of the Rams in the wider spectrum. [Insert dramatic shiver]

The Rams are merely 4-7-0 ATS this season with a 3.3 winning margin on average and -3.2 differential versus the spread on average. At home, the Rams are 2-3-0 ATS with a 2.0 winning margin on average and a -5.1 differential versus the spread.

Twice this season, the Rams were tipped as the double-digit favorites and both times they failed to cover. They missed the cover as the 16½-point favorite in a 28-19 win over the Detroit Lions and again as the 16½-point fave in a 38-22 win over the Texans.

Mind the Trap!

The Rams may very well come through with the victory over the Jaguars, but to trust them to come through for NFL picks against the spread is another matter entirely, and especially with a hefty point spread.

The last time the Rams covered was against the New York Giants in a 38-11 win. Ironically, since Stafford faced his former team in Week 7, the Rams haven’t covered a single game. Given current form, the mounting pressure on Stafford, McVay and Co, the upcoming date with the Cardinals … all of this gives pause for concern, and that makes this point spread feel like a bit of a trap.

Pick: Jacksonville Jaguars +13

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