On top of concerns about how Jared Goff will fare against a true defensive test, the Los Angeles Rams have been less than convincing as a big home favorite in the last 12 months.
The host Rams, with Goff behind center, are 7-point favorites on the NFL odds against the Dak Prescott-led Dallas Cowboys with a 49.5-point total at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com in a Divisional Round matchup at the Los Angeles Coliseum on Saturday.
The Rams’ loss at this stage of last season’s playoffs was the start of a stretch where they have gone 6-2 straight-up and 3-4-1 against the spread as a home favorite of 5.5 or more points. The OddsShark NFL Database also notes that the Cowboys are 6-1 ATS in their last seven games as the underdog.
The Cowboys, 11-6 SU and 9-7-1 ATS, seem well-constructed for traditional playoff football, and the fact that the total has gone UNDER in 10 of their last 12 road games, with an average combined score of 36.0 points, might augur well for their chances of hanging around if Goff struggles for the Rams.
Prescott will have to avoid turnovers, and he could have a depleted receiving corps with wide receiver Allen Hurns (leg/ankle) done for the year and slot receiver Cole Beasley (ankle) hurt, but running back Ezekiel Elliott is facing a defense that allowed an NFL-worst 5.1 yards per rush.
The Rams are 13-3 SU and 7-7-2 ATS, and had a tailspin late in the regular season. Between Goff having a regression and leading rusher Todd Gurley (knee) being limited in practice this week, there are concerns with their pivotal performer in each offensive phase, which could pile on to the uneasiness about the Rams being 0-5 ATS in their last five Saturday games.
Gurley and other Rams’ runners will contend with a Dallas run defense that was the league’s fifth-most proficient (3.8 yards per rush). The Rams are much healthier in Dallas in the receiving corps, with Robert Woods, Brandin Cooks and tight end Gerald Everett facing a team that allowed a pedestrian 7.4 yards per pass.
Also on Saturday, the Kansas City Chiefs are 5.5-point betting favorites against the Indianapolis Colts with a 57-point total in the early Divisional Round matchup.
The Colts are 11-6 SU and 9-7-1 ATS, which includes being 10-1 SU and 7-3-1 ATS over an 11-game run that has been distinguished by a proficient pass-run balance between quarterback Andrew Luck and running back Marlon Mack. Luck’s offensive line has allowed the fewest sacks in the league while the Chiefs, for all their defensive woes, tied for the league lead in the regular season, so someone will have to give.
Luck’s favorite receiver T.Y. Hilton has been nursing a sore ankle but is expected to play on Saturday. Mack is facing a team whose 5.0 yards per rush allowed was second-worst in the NFL.
The Chiefs are 12-4 SU and 9-6-1 ATS, and prolific young quarterback Patrick Mahomes and his supporting cast might be asked to win a scorefest. The narrative of the Chiefs being 1-11 SU and ATS in their last 12 games in the playoffs will be there until it isn’t, but what will be more relevant is that they also thrived at avoiding disruptions (26 sacks allowed) and the Colts lack a strong pass rush.
On the back end of the pass defense, the Colts could have their hands full with speedy wide receiver Tyreek Hill and Kansas City’s ability to use tight end Travis Kelce. Spencer Ware (hamstring) is Kansas City’s likely starter at running back.
Five of the Chiefs’ last six games have gone OVER at sports betting sites, with an average total of 65.6 points.
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