LOS ANGELES RAMS AT SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS (-6.5, 45.5)
Well that Rams renaissance didn’t last long did it? After two solid performances against one terrible and one mediocre defense, the Rams Offense went right back to how it looked most of the year. That two-week stretch combined with the 49ers’ defensive struggles in Weeks 14 and 15 have this total a little higher than it would have been a few weeks ago.
The fact remains that these are top-tier defenses (second and seventh by EPA). Despite giving up 77 points the last two weeks, the 49ers still rank fifth in points against and second in yards per play allowed. Richard Sherman coming back should also solidify the secondary against a mediocre Rams Offense, and the 49ers defense should get back on track.
The Rams, meanwhile, are an interesting story. By points allowed, they rank 15th but almost half of the points they’ve allowed (144 of 306, or 47 percent) have come in just three games, against the only three teams who have scored more than 400 points in 2019. The 49ers are a good offense, but not a great one, expect the Rams Defense to keep them in this game.
PREDICTION: Under 45.5
OAKLAND RAIDERS AT LOS ANGELES CHARGERS (-5.5, 45)
Oakland let me down last week after a promising start but I’m going back to the well here against the Chargers. The main features of both teams are a baffling inconsistency combined with a knack for finding ways to lose. Beyond that, we have two competent offenses (13th and 14th by EPA) which have struggled to convert that into points (20th and 24th respectively).
The main problem for the Chargers has been too many turnovers (29 total, third most.) This week they face a terrible Raiders Defense that ranks 31st by EPA and 31st in turnovers generated with just 14 on the season. The Bolts rank fourth overall in yards per play - if they avoid those costly turnovers - they should have no problems scoring.
The Oakland offense is less inspiring, particularly with Josh Jacobs out this week. But the Silver and Black remain a league-average offense against an inconsistent defense that ranks 21st by EPA. With a total of 45 and the Chargers likely to do more than their share, we’re not asking for much from Derek Carr and the soon-to-be Las Vegas Raiders.
PREDICTION: Over 45
PITTSBURGH STEELERS AT NEW YORK JETS (+3, 37.5)
I typically avoid taking the Under on the particularly low lines, but this one is tough to pass up. By EPA and yards per play, we have the 29th and 32nd-ranked offenses facing off against the No. 3 and No 11 defenses.
For the Jets, the numbers are particularly ugly. They have scored on just 22.4 percent of their possessions and average 4.6 yards per play - both worst in the NFL. Their big offseason acquisition is averaging 3.3 yards per carry and watching their games, it’s hard to blame Le’Veon Bell.
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Quarterback Sam Darnold, who showed so much promise in his rookie season, is clearly struggling an ranks right between Josh Allen and Mitch Trubisky in QB rating. They go up against a Steelers team that clings to the sixth playoff spot in the AFC exclusively because of its defense.
This is about as good as it gets for predicting a low-scoring game. In a season where more than 30 percent of games have seen 37 points or fewer, I’m willing to bend my typical rules.**video
PREDICTION: Under 37.5
Week 15: 1-2
Season to date: 17-28