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Monday Night NFL Picks — Rams’ Mission: Slow Down Ravens’ MVP Hopeful Jackson

It is quite possible that there is no better team in the NFL right now than the Baltimore Ravens. We hear objections to certain teams out there, who haven’t played and beaten enough “quality opposition.”

Dallas has heard it. Buffalo has. Green Bay has.

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Well, the Ravens have, over the last four games, beaten Seattle, New England and Houston by a combined 65 points.

The Los Angeles Rams would be left out of the playoffs if the season ended right now. So this is no joke. They are not going to win the NFC West, in all likelihood, and they are facing a lot of competition in the wild card race.

This game, at the L.A. Coliseum, kicks off at 8:15 PM ET. And you can make in-game wagers with the technology available from Sports Betting Ultra.

Let’s take a look at the Monday night NFL odds as they have been posted with reduced juice at BetAnySports:

Baltimore Ravens -3.5 (-101)
Los Angeles Rams +3.5 (-109)

Over 47 points (-107)
Under 47 points (-103)

There are a few ways you can go when you analyze this game.

If you want to follow the public (and probably the “smart money” as well), you would probably be leaning with the Ravens in this one. When we look at the number we see that it opened as a pick at least someplace, and now it is up to the 3.5 points (or three with a higher price than -110) that you see below.

If you are considering the fundamentals, you’d have to look at the Ravens very closely.

They’ve got an explosive offense; in fact, they gain more yardage on a per-drive basis that any other team in the NFL. Lamar Jackson is in the process of making history, as he should wind up setting the one-season record for most rushing yards for a quarterback. Being the leading rusher on the leading rushing team in the NFL is incredibly significant. And then there’s Mark Ingram, so you see what we mean?

And the Rams simply aren’t happening lately. Remember all that magic from Sean McVay the last couple of years? It’s not there right now. I don’t know; maybe the loss of assistants like Matt LaFleur and Zac Taylor has taken its toll. Maybe the New England Patriots set a great blueprint for the rest of the league when they put the clamps on the Rams in the Super Bowl.

Or it could be that there are other teams emulating what they were doing, so it’s not that “new” and “innovative” anymore. It’s kind of like when you were a kid and your family was the first with a satellite dish and everybody wanted to come over your house to watch it, but then everybody else got one and you weren’t so cool anymore.

Then again, it could be because of CJ Anderson. Or rather, NO CJ Anderson. Everybody already knows that Todd Gurley was a monster in the Rams’ backfield. And BECAUSE he was a monster, Jared Goff was able to perform play-action to freeze defenders, making the passing game all the more effective.

Then Gurley suffered that injury that was kept such a mystery to the press. And then he wasn’t a monster anymore. Thankfully the Rams had picked CJ Anderson off the waiver wire, and he became sort of a mini-monster to pick up the slack. This season Gurley’s numbers have been, if you can forgive us, pretty ho-hum. He’s got 525 rushing yards, and he’s averaged 4.1 yards a pop. Ho-hum. And he has caught only 18 passes for 117 yards. That’s less than ho-hum. It’s sub-pedestrian.

And Anderson isn’t on the roster. The Rams thought that maybe Malcolm Brown or rookie Darrell Henderson, who carved up defenses at Memphis, could fill the vacuum. But that hasn’t been the case. So now Goff looks kind of ordinary, which is what a lot of people figured he was anyway. He has a quarterback rating of 82.1, and a TD-INT ratio of 11-to-10. There’s a lot of “ho-hum” to go around.

If you feel a little queasy about laying more than a field goal on the road against the defending NFC champions, then you may want to gravitate toward the Rams.

There is another way you can go entirely.

That is, if you consider that the Rams are one of the NFL’s very best at handling what the Ravens do best. They have allowed just 3.3 yards per carry, they are extremely good at preventing long runs and their stuff rate is in the league’s top ten. Yes, they have a concern in that corraling Jackson is a unique proposition. But they have the best defensive lineman in football (Aaron Donald) and arguably the best defensive coordinator (Wade Phillips). They also have one of the very top cover corners (Jalen Ramsey).

Honestly, I can’t speak for the Rams’ offensive prospects. But I think they can come up with a big defensive effort – big enough for this game to go UNDER the total.

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