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The Los Angeles Rams hit the road to take on the Pittsburgh Steelers Sunday in a pivotal clash for both teams' playoff hopes. Los Angeles and Pittsburgh are both in the midst of winning streaks. The Rams have won two in a row on the backs of their defense, which allowed 10 points each to Cincinnati and Atlanta. Pittsburgh won its third straight game Sunday with a 26-24 victory over Indianapolis. A 96-yard interception touchdown return by second-year safety Minkah Fitzpatrick proved decisive. The Steelers are now back to .500 at the season's midway point.
Los Angeles boasts one of the most productive pass offenses in the NFL led by quarterback Jared Goff. Despite Goff's gaudy 2,367 passing yards, he ranks 25th in quarterback rating, plagued by seven interceptions. He's up against Pittsburgh QB Mason Rudolph, who has looked inconsistent since taking over for the injured Ben Roethlisberger.
Not much separates these two teams in defensive efficiency, as Los Angeles and Pittsburgh both give up just north of 335 yards per game. However, the Steelers are second in the NFL with a +10 turnover differential, while the Rams sit at 0 in that category.
Rams go for third straight winThe Los Angeles Rams have seen their playoff hopes improve dramatically in the last few weeks with wins over Atlanta and Cincinnati. Sunday's road trip to Pittsburgh offers more of a challenge. Quarterback Jared Goff struggled the last time he played in a road Midwest venue, throwing for two interceptions against the Cleveland Browns back in September. Goff is coming off his highest quarterback rating of the season, though, throwing for two touchdowns and 372 yards against the Bengals.
Los Angeles has a healthy and motivated defense (linebacker Bryce Hager is the only player listed questionable) that has given up 20 points over the last two games. Linebacker Corey Littleton has a team-high 66 tackles, while linebacker Dante Fowler Jr. leads the unit with 6.5 sacks.
🗣 TOUCHDOWN, LA!— Los Angeles Rams (@RamsNFL) November 7, 2019
The best offensive plays from the first half of 2019! pic.twitter.com/esmnvbwKXj
The Rams received some encouraging news Thursday when linebacker Clay Matthews and running back Malcolm Brown returned to practice. Matthews has missed the last month of play and would provide plenty of assistance in rushing the quarterback. Brown, absent the last two games, hasn't reached his full potential this year but gives the Rams some key depth at the running back position.
Steelers hope to stay hotThe Pittsburgh Steelers have turned their 2019 season around in recent weeks with three straight wins. Pittsburgh's matchup with Los Angeles will be a good measuring test to see whether the Mason Rudolph-led group has a real shot at making a playoff run. Rudolph has averaged 230 passing yards in the last two weeks including three touchdowns and two interceptions.
The biggest concern for Pittsburgh is the health of its running back core. James Conner was didn't practice Thursday due to a lingering shoulder injury. He leads the Steelers with 380 rushing yards. Running back Trey Edmunds and fullback Roosevelt Nix also missed practice for a second straight day. Running back Benny Snell Jr. is already ruled out for Sunday, and guard Ramon Foster missed Thursday's practice recovering from a concussion.
Pittsburgh's defense is almost entirely healthy. The Steelers give up 21.1 points per game which rank 13th in the NFL. The Pittsburgh secondary has 11 interceptions, third-most in the league. Four of those INTs belong to Minkah Fitzpatrick, including his 96-yarder against Indianapolis.
- Steelers are 2-5 ATS in their last seven home games vs. a team with a winning road record.
The supporting trends for this game, found on Covers.com, are:
- Rams are 6-0 ATS in their last six road games.
- Rams are 4-0-1 ATS in their last five games following a bye week.
- Rams are 6-1 ATS in their last seven games after allowing more than 250 yards passing in their previous game.
The Bottom Line What to bet on this game.
Full-Game Side Bet
The Rams opened as a one-point underdog and were quickly bet down to a 3.5-point favorite. Like a lot of bettors, I'm high on Los Angeles this week. The Rams return two key playmakers in linebacker Clay Matthews and running back Malcolm Brown. Matthews' presence, in particular, is a huge deal, as he's one of the top pass rushers in the NFL. Pittsburgh quarterback Mason Rudolph could be sweating Sunday.
Prediction: Rams -3.5
Full-Game Total Pick
The total of 44 is a pretty low o/u and with neither defense performing all that well this year, the over makes a lot of sense in this one. The Rams are starting to click offensively as Jared Goff grows more comfortable with the system. LA has scored 24 or more points in four of the last five weeks. Pittsburgh has scored 20 points or more in every game since the opening week of the season. This one is certainly trending over.
Prediction: Over 44