Today's Free Picks for
Posted at 10:30 AM EST. Odds subject to change.
Detroit -3 over L.A. Rams
8:15 PM EST. There is no shortage of drama to be had here, as former #1 overall pick Matthew Stafford will make the trek back to Detroit, where he played from 2009 to 2021. Stafford was never able to get the Lions over the hump as a winner in the playoffs, but he did lead them there in 2011, 2014, and 2016 before a three-year dry spell led to an exchange of franchise pivots with the Rams, who had been to a Super Bowl with another former #1 pick in Jared Goff, but Los Angeles would lose 13-3 to New England in Super Bowl LIII.
Goff has been labeled as someone who cannot win the "big one," but that label was once on the shoulders of Stafford until he won the big one, Super Bowl LVI, with the Rams in the 2021 season. The pressure on Goff to lead the Lions to a playoff win after leading them to their first division title in two decades is palpable, and there is the matter of a potential large extension that could be coming his way sooner rather than later.
The contrast in perceived pedigree between the two quarterbacks pales only in comparison between these two teams, as the Lions have been dregs for 60 years while the Rams have had moments in the last few years where they were a juggernaut and the roots of the Sean McVay coaching tree reach league-wide. However, the Rams were not expected to be here, and in fact, their season win total was posted at 5½ before the season. Meanwhile, expectations were high in Detroit, and all things considered, the Lions fulfilled those expectations by taking the NFC North with a 12-5 record, finishing a full three games clear of Green Bay.
Despite hosting this battle of division winners, the Lions are being given little respect by the media and the market. We get it; neither of those two entities can fathom something they haven't seen. The Lions never win in the playoffs if they are ever so fortunate to make it, so why would this time be any different, right? That sentiment is ridiculous, as the Lions are the superior team here, having finished sixth in the power rankings to the Rams' 11th.
The Rams' rise up the standings was a quick one that came late in the season, and therefore we have a roadmap that starts with the Rams being undervalued after a poor start to their stock soaring after winning seven out of eight down the stretch, including covering six of their last seven games. In Week 11, after losing three straight games, the Rams were just a -1½ favorite in a win at home over Seattle. In Week 12, L.A. was a -1-point favorite at Arizona with Kyler Murray back in the fold and would smash the Cardinals, 37-14. In Week 13 at Cleveland, the Rams were -3½ when they waffled the Browns, 39-19. In Week 15 at home to Washington, Los Angeles was a -6½-point favorite and won and covered that game as well. That takes us to Week 16, where the Rams were -4 point road chalk in New Orleans on Thursday Night Football (another win and cover), and finally, Los Angeles was a -6½-point favorite at the Giants.
It's not like Detroit's stock is down but rather it is a case of the Rams stock is absolutely soaring right now and that makes them a decemnt sell high candiddate. After paying out like a broken slot machine, the Rams are now taking back a deflated price in this game. Hell, on Thanksgiving, the Lions were -8½-point chalk over the Packers. Win or lose, the value to be had on Detroit is tremendous, which makes swallowing these points as sweet as sugar.
Detroit -3 -108 (Risking 3.16 units - To Win: 2.93)