In a matchup dubbed the “Condiment Bowl,” The Gold Sheet handicapper Bruce Marshall is siding with ketchup, aka Tampa Bay, which is getting 2½ points from host St. Louis at every Las Vegas sports book except for Treasure Island, which has the Rams as 3-point favorites.
“It’s a strong vote for the Bucs,” said Marshall (goldsheet.com). “They’ve played well on the road and they match up pretty well against the Rams. They’re very tough against the run and St. Louis is totally dependent on getting (Todd) Gurley going. They need Gurley to run big for them to have a chance, but I don’t think he’s going to run tonight and that should give the Bucs the advantage.”
Tampa Bay (6-7) has the NFL’s eighth-best run defense and the league’s second-leading rusher in Doug Martin (1,214 yards). The Bucs are coming off a loss to the New Orleans Saints that all but knocked them out of playoff contention, but Marshall expects them to bounce back behind rookie quarterback Jameis Winston.
“Winston is making steady improvement on the learning curve and usually does not have two bad efforts in a row,” Marshall said. “The Rams haven’t been sacking anybody.”
The Rams (5-8) also might be moving to Los Angeles next season but that doesn’t seem to be a big concern for their apathetic fans.
“There are a lot of empty seats at Rams games,” Marshall said. “There’s a good chance they’re moving but there doesn’t seem to be any rallying to keep the team in St. Louis. I’m not sure they’re going to come up with a big effort.”
Marshall also leans to under the total of 41. The under is 10-4 on Thursday nights this season, the last four meetings between the teams have gone under and the Rams have gone under in 10 of their 13 games this season, including eight of their last nine.
“When Gurley is running, it’s slowing the game. When he doesn’t run, they can’t score,” Marshall said. “They’ve been a dead under team for two months.”