Denver Broncos (7-2, 5-4 ATS) @ St. Louis Rams (3-6, 3-6 ATS)

*ATS= against the spread

BETDAQ Line: Denver -9 (50.5)

Significant Injuries

Denver: TE Virgil Green (doubtful– knee), RB Ronnie Hillman (out– foot)

St. Louis: DT Alex Carrington (questionable– quadricep), LB Daren Bates (doubtful– groin), CB Lamarcus Joyner (doubtful– groin), WR Damian Williams (doubtful– hamstring), CB Marcus Roberson (out– ankle)

Recent Trends

Denver is 19-7 ATS in their last 26 games vs. a team with a winning record

Denver is 5-1 ATS in their last 6 games overall

St. Louis is 7-1-1 ATS in their last 9 home games vs. a team with a winning record

St. Louis is 2-5 ATS in their last 7 games following a loss of more than 14 points

St. Louis is 2-5 ATS in their last 7 games overall

The underdog is 4-0 ATS in the last 4 meetings between these 2 teams

The OVER is 4-0 in Denver’s last 4 games following a win

The OVER is 16-7 in Denver’s last 23 road games

The OVER is 4-1 in St. Louis’ last 5 games vs. a team with a winning record

Three reasons to back Denver

1. This is as blatant of a mismatch as you will find in the NFL: the Broncos are superior in every facet of the game, and their last 5 wins have all come by 14 points or more. The lingering memory of St. Louis beating both Seattle and San Francisco is all that has kept this line below double-digits, and Denver is an absolute steal at the current number (-9). Last week they were 12.5-point road favorites over Oakland and won 41-17, while the Rams lost by 17 in Arizona.

2. The Broncos have an explosive offense that is averaging just a shade under 32 points per game, and St. Louis has been horrifically bad on defense this season, surrendering nearly 360 yards and 28 points per game despite a schedule that has been rather light on high-scoring teams (only one opponent currently ranks in the top-8 in points scored). This is a recipe for disaster for the Rams.

3. The Rams have one of the NFL’s worst offenses, a unit that averages just 18.1 points per game and has produced fewer yards than all but two teams leaguewide. They’re making a change at quarterback this week, benching Austin Davis in favor of journeyman Shaun Hill. Hill was terrible in his only start this season, a 28-point loss to Minnesota, so it’s difficult to imagine him having much success against a Denver defense that ranks 5th in total yards allowed. And if Hill doesn’t have success then the Rams will be totally unable to mov the ball, because the Broncos lead the NFL in rushing defense, surrendering just 67 yards per game on the ground.

Three reasons to back St. Louis

1. The Rams are the consummate “live dog”– they’ve won twice in the past month as underdogs of 7 points or more, and those wins have come against San Francisco and Seattle, two of the NFC’s best teams. They’re better than most seem to realize, and they always seem to rise to the challenge when faced with quality opposition at home, going 7-1-1 ATS in their last 9 home games against teams with winning records.

2. The Broncos have one of the league’s worst offensive lines, a mix-and-match unit that has seen 4 lineup changes over the past month due to injuries and ineffectiveness. The strength of the St. Louis defense, meanwhile, is the line, and the specific strength of that line is their ability to rush the passer. The Rams have tallied 16 sacks in their last 4 games, so expect them to be in Peyton Manning’s lap all game long.

3. This is Denver’s third straight road game, they’re vulnerable in the secondary (19th in passing defense), they have a one-dimensional offense, they’re surrendering over 25 points per game on the road, they’re one Peyton Manning sprained ankle away from being a sub-.500 team, and they’re a 9-point road favorite over a team that has a habit of winning games they’re not supposed to win. Take the points here, it’s the only sensible play.


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