The NFL just completed the first quarter of its 16-game regular season schedule and it is safe to say that parity is alive and well, especially in the NFC.
The New England Patriots and the Kanas City Chiefs each had to go the extra mile on Sunday to remain undefeated at a straight-up 4-0. They are the only two AFC teams to successfully navigate their way through the opening quarter of games without a loss.
Over in the NFC, the only team left with a perfect record is the San Francisco 49ers at 3-0. They are coming off a Week 4 early bye. Green Bay, Dallas and the Los Angeles Rams all lost for the first time in Week 4.
Staying in the NFC West for this week’s top underdog pick, Thursday Night Football features a great showdown between the 3-1 Rams and the 3-1 Seattle Seahawks. The Rams opened as slight one-point road underdogs for the 8:20 p.m. start on NFL Network.
However, we are already starting to see the game listed as a PICK with a few online sportsbooks. [After writing, the line has moved all the way to SEA -2. Watch the line movements leading up to kickoff]
Even though I am taking the Rams as slight underdogs early in the week, they could be slight road favorites by game time on Thursday night if the early public money keeps going their way. The current total line for this division clash is set at 49 points.
After dropping a wild 55-40 decision to Tampa Bay as a heavy nine-point home favorite, Los Angeles probably should be a one or even two-point road underdog against Seattle. The Seahawks have been an early surprise at 3-1 SU (2-2 ATS).
Keep watching for our NFL preview for this one, we will be line shopping for you, finding you the best odds for this game, whichever side you are betting.
The main reason I am betting the Rams this Thursday night is the simple fact that they are the better team in this heated division rivalry. They certainly did not play that way on Sunday, but like I mentioned earlier, parity is much stronger that expected in the NFC following the Week 4 results.
Los Angeles posted wins over Carolina and Cleveland on the road and New Orleans at home. It turns out that all three games were quality wins given those team’s recent performances. The Panthers just beat Houston on the road without Cam Newton and New Orleans handed Dallas its first loss of the season without Drew Brees. The Browns improved to 2-2 after finally living up to expectations with an impressive road win against Baltimore.
The Seahawks lost to the Saints at home and their three wins came against Cincinnati at home and Pittsburgh and Arizona on the road. Heading into Monday night’s AFC North tilt between the Bengals and the Steelers, all three of those teams are still looking for their first victory of the season. The soft schedule is not Seattle’s fault, but it is going to have to beat a quality team or two before earning a spot on my legitimate contender list.
Comparing each team’s early results is just a small part of the handicapping process for Thursday’s game. Recent betting trends also lean towards the Rams with a SU 6-2 record in the last eight matchups. Los Angeles is also 7-3 ATS in its last 10 NFC West contests.
Beating Seattle on the road is always a tall task. However, last season’s two-game SU sweep followed a 42-7 road victory against the Seahawks in the 2017 regular season.
This matchup is a matter of the old Dennis Green statement, “they are who we thought they were.” The Rams are the better overall team and that should bear itself out come Thursday night in the Great Pacific Northwest.