Free Pick Breakdown, Odds & Prediction: Rams vs. Chargers (1/1/2023) - Taking Vegas

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Free Pick Breakdown, Odds & Prediction: Rams vs. Chargers (1/1/2023)

By Michael Savio
December 28, 2022
Photo by: Kirby Lee - USA TODAY Sports

Los Angeles Rams vs Los Angeles Chargers (1/1 @ 4:25 PM EST)

Spread: Chargers -6.5
Money Line: Rams +230 / Chargers -275
Total: 41

Overview and Billing Info

The Los Angeles Rams (5-10) and Chargers (9-6) will face off on Sunday in the battle for LA. This will be the second meeting between these two teams since they moved to LOA, with the Rams winning the 2018 matchup. The Chargers have locked in a wild card spot while the Rams have been eliminated.

The Rams are 5-8-2 against the spread this season, going 4-4-2 over their last 10 games. They are 6-9 in favor of the under, and they’ve gone under the total in three of their previous five games.

The Chargers are 9-5-1 versus the spread and have covered their last three games. They are 5-9-1 in favor of the under, going under in the point total in their previous four games.

Los Angeles Rams

While it’s been a forgettable season for the Rams, they come into Sunday having won two of their last three games. The offense is averaging 305.1 yards (30th in NFL) and 18.7 points (26th in NFL) per game and is coming off a game where they scored 51 points. They will again turn to Baker Mayfield at quarterback, who has thrown for 571 yards and four touchdowns in his three games with the Rams. The veteran completed 85.7% of his passes last week, a sign he is settling into this offense. Mayfield has been playing with a banged-up receiving corps without Cooper Kupp and Allen Robinson II, leaving tight end Tyler Higbee (576 yards, 3 TD) as the team’s top receiver. The talented tight end has been quiet this season, but he had his best game of the year last week, where he went for 94 yards and two touchdowns. He will join Ben Skowronek (376 yards, 0 TD) and Van Jefferson (231 yards, 3 TD) to round out the Rams’ pass attack.

The Rams are only averaging 89.9 yards on the ground, but they’ve gotten a boost from the resurgence of Cam Akers (559 yards, 7 TD). The running back struggled to begin the season, but he’s broken out over the last four weeks with 285 yards and six touchdowns. His recent play is the biggest reason the Rams have won two of their previous three. When Came Akers isn’t in the backfield, look for rookie Kyren Williams to see some carries. The back has potential but has managed just 133 yards in seven games.

The Rams’ defense is allowing 347.1 yards and 22.3 points per game this season. Their strength is against the run, allowing just 104.5 rush yards per game (5th in NFL). They have been led by the play of linebacker Bobby Wagner who has a team-high 126 tackles to go with six sacks and two interceptions. Wagner joins Leonard Floyd (8 sacks) to form an impressive pass-rushing duo that has thrived without Aaron Donald. The secondary has been led by the play of Cobie Durant (3 INT, 5 PD) and Jalen Ramsey (2 sacks, 14 PD, 2 INT, 3 FF). Ramsey is among the best defensive backs in the league and should play a significant role on Sunday against this talented Charges pass game.

Los Angeles Chargers

The Chargers have won three straight and locked up a playoff spot. Their offense is averaging 368.5 yards and 22.1 points per game. The Chargers’ success is primarily thanks to a passing offense that is third in the NFL (270.1 YPG). They are led by Justin Herbert, who has thrown for 4,254 yards (3rd in NFL) and 21 touchdowns. He’s been moving the ball well all season but has three interceptions and zero touchdowns over his last two games. Despite this, he still completed 71% of his passes for 548 yards during that span. Herbert will again have his receiving corps healthy, led by Mike Williams (769 yards, 4 TD) and Keenan Allen (590 yards, 2 TD). Williams has a play of 25 or more yards in his last three games, while Allen has totaled 282 yards during that time. When Herbert isn’t looking their way, expect to see Joshua Palmer (730 yards, 3 TDs) and tight end Gerald Everett (532 yards, 2 TD) get plenty of looks.

Austin Ekeler leads a Chargers backfield averaging 84.9 yards per game on the ground (31st in NFL). The veteran back has 759 yards and 11 touchdowns on the ground, with 647 yards and five more touchdowns through the air. He’s been a massive part of this team’s success as they dealt with several injuries. While he isn’t putting up large rushing totals, Ekeler now has four touchdowns in their last three games. His receiving numbers are down since the return of Allen and Williams, with 24 yards over his previous two games. When he isn’t on the field, watch for Joshua Kelley (224 yards, 2 TD), who has 19 carries over their last two games.

The Chargers’ defense is allowing 359 yards and 22.9 points per game this season. They’ve been playing well recently, allowing just 17 points per game over their last five. They’ve held their last three opponents (Colts, Titans, Dolphins) under the 20-point mark. The defense has been led by the play of linebackers Drue Tranquill (129 tackles, 5 sacks, 7 TFL) and Khalil Mack (8 sacks, 11 TFL), along with defensive end Morgan Fox (5.5 sacks, 6 TFL). Tranquill and Fox have been great in their last two games, combining for a total of five sacks. In the secondary, the Chargers feature star safety Derwin James Jr (109 tackles, 4 sacks, 5 TFL,2 INT). He will be questionable for Sunday’s game with a concussion, meaning the Chargers will need to rely on the play of Bryce Callahan (3 INT, 6 PD) and Asante Samuel Jr (11 PD, 2 INT) to step up and handle the Rams pass attack.

Free Pick: Chargers -6.5

While the Rams come in having won two of their last three, they’ve been playing some of the worst teams in the NFL. On the other side, the Chargers have been on fire since the return of Allen and Williams and have beaten better teams. While Herbert’s recent touchdown-to-interception ratio is cause for concern, this offense can succeed despite it. The key will be stopping Cam Akers, and the revitalized Rams run game. The Chargers have struggled against the run, but with Baker Mayfield at quarterback, they will be able to focus on containing Akers. Mayfield may make a few plays, but the Rams don’t have the offense to match what the Chargers will bring on Sunday.

We’re giving up the points to roll with the Chargers on Sunday.

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