Historically, teams that lose the Super Bowl the prior year have trouble rebounding in the current season. Until the New England Patriots won the Super Bowl last February after losing the game the prior season to the Philadelphia Eagles, no team had lost the Super Bowl one season and comeback to win it the next year since the 1972 Miami Dolphins. Don Shula’s Dolphins lost to the Dallas Cowboys in Super Bowl VI, then returned the following season to complete their perfect season with a win over the Washington Redskins in Roman numeral seven.
The Los Angeles Rams lost last season’s Super Bowl, and opened this year with three straight wins over the Carolina Panthers, New Orleans Saints and Cleveland Browns. Two of those wins, opening day against the Panthers and two weeks ago on a Sunday night against the Browns, were on the road. Their home win over the talented Saints, came in lopsided fashion while handing Sean Payton’s team a 27-9 loss in a game that still represents the only defeat this season by the Saints.
The Rams opponent tonight, the Seattle Seahawks, hosted the Saints two weeks ago and New Orleans bounced off their loss in Los Angeles with a more one-sided win over the Seahawks than the final score suggests, 33-27.
So, with that as background information, you can understand why most bettors staking a claim on this game tonight are taking the Rams with the 1½ points on the spread. Perhaps their logic goes something like this: The Rams beat the Saints and the Saints beat the Seahawks on their home field.
Do we need more information than that to join the crowd and take the defending NFC Champions tonight in Seattle?
Results in the NFL are not quite so literal. If they were, it would be a lot easier league to handicap. When my daughter was 12 years old and playing softball, their team had a perfect season, winning all their games while the last place team lost every start. The second place team lost every game to my daughter’s team, but won every game against the third and fourth place teams in the league. The third place team only won four games, the four times they played the last place team.
It was a perfect symmetry. No team considered better ever lost, and no team looking to upset the team in front of them ever won.
In the NFL, symmetry is not as common. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers can beat the Rams in the right spot, like they did last week while scorching the Rams defense for 55 points in Los Angeles while pinning them with their first loss of the season. This week, the Rams look to bounce off that setback with a road win over the talented Seahawks.
Do they get the motivation necessary to win here?
Does last week’s loss, which opens the door for Seattle to move ahead of Los Angeles tonight while both teams pursue the undefeated San Francisco 49ers in the NFC West, bode well for the Rams chances in this game?
Perhaps the answer can be found in the Rams road win two Sundays ago against the Cleveland Browns. The upstart home team gave the Rams all they could handle in the primetime matchup, in fact the Browns led the game headed to the fourth quarter. Then, the Rams winning experience proved critical, and Los Angeles edged the young Browns to pull out both the win and point spread cover, 20-13.
Off that game, which by many accounts the wrong team won, the Browns went on to trounce the Baltimore Ravens on the road, 40-25, and the Rams got hammered at home by Tampa Bay, 55-40. Does last week’s loss put the Rams back on an even keel, one in which their championship form can dictate tonight’s result?
Or, perhaps, is last week’s score and the narrow win the prior Sunday an indicator that the Rams are destined for an off year like so many Super Bowl losers have experienced in the past?
You don’t have to be having an off year to lose in Seattle, you just can’t be great … which by all early indicators, the Rams aren’t.
Qoxhi Picks: Seattle Seahawks (-1½) over Los Angeles Rams