The Los Angeles Rams were a solid NFL team a year ago, and they made the playoffs as the NFC West champions.
Their stay in the playoffs was a short one, as they dropped their wild-card playoff game to the Atlanta Falcons.
Through the first three games off the 2018 season, the Rams look like a lot more than a good team. They are 3-0 and could be the best team in the NFC. They get a chance to make a statement Thursday night when they host the Minnesota Vikings.
Minnesota was the darling of the preseason, and many expected them to get to the Super Bowl and win it with new quarterback Kirk Cousins. The Vikings may turn out to be a powerhouse, but they are not at that level right now. They are 1-1-1 after dropping their Week 3 game at home to the Buffalo Bills.
The Vikings have to try to right themselves on the road against the Rams, and that will be the most challenging assignment of the year to this point. The Rams are seven-point favorites, according to OddsShark.
If the Vikings are truly a legitimate Super Bowl contender, they can bounce back from a bad game. Quarterback Kirk Cousins has a powerful arm and is accurate, and he has a pair of fine receivers in Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs.
The Rams don't have to take a back seat to anyone. Jared Goff can make all the throws in Sean McVay's offense, and he has the best running back in the game in Todd Gurley and fine receivers in Cooper Kupp, Robert Woods and Brandin Cooks.
The trends favor the Rams as well. They are 9-1 straight-up and 8-2 against the spread in their last 10 games as a favorite, and the Vikings are 1-9 straight up in their last 10 games as an underdog of 6.5 points or more, per OddsShark.
The Vikings may be as talented as the Rams, but they are not playing well at this point, and it could be tough for them to crank it up after a flat effort in Week 3. Go with the Rams to win and cover.
Week 4 NFL Odds
Minnesota at L.A. Rams (-7) | O/U 49.5
Buffalo at Green Bay (-10) | O/U 45
Cincinnati at Atlanta (-5) | O/U 51.5
Detroit at Dallas (-3) | O/U 43.5
Houston at Indianapolis (-1.5) | O/U 47
Miami at New England (-7) | O/U 47.5
N.Y. Jets at Jacksonville (-7.5) | O/U 38.5
Philadelphia (-4) at Tennessee | O/U 41
Tampa Bay at Chicago (-3) | O/U 46.5
Cleveland at Oakland (-3) | O/U 45
Seattle (-3) at Arizona | O/U 38.5
New Orleans (-3.5) at N.Y. Giants | O/U 50
San Francisco at L.A. Chargers (-10.5) | O/U 46.5
Baltimore at Pittsburgh (-3) | O/U 51
Kansas City (-4.5) at Denver | O/U 56
Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Chicago Bears
The Tampa Bay Bucs have been one of the most exciting offensive powerhouses in the NFL through the first three weeks of the season, and they have quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick to thank for it.
Fitzpatrick moved in as the starter while Jameis Winston was suspended and led the Bucs to season-opening victories over the Saints and Eagles. While the Steelers put plenty of heat on Fitzpatrick and intercepted him three times last Monday night, the quarterback led a comeback effort in the second half and nearly got the Bucs their third win of the season.
Winston's suspension is over, and he will almost certainly play in the near future. However, Fitzpatrick will do everything he can to keep winning so he can hold on to it as long as possible. Fitzpatrick is likely to start Sunday, per NFL.com insider Ian Rapoport.
If he can lead the Bucs to a road win over Chicago, he should get another week or two. However, the Bears have played ferocious defense through the first three weeks of the season and are led by linebacker Khalil Mack. He has a sack and a forced fumble in each of the first three games for the Bears, and his teammates have been following his lead.
If second-year quarterback Mitchell Trubisky can do his part against a Tampa Bay defense that is not as accomplished as the offense, the Bears could win by a touchdown or more.
The Bears are three-point favorites, and they should win and cover the spread.
New Orleans Saints at New York Giants
In Week 3, the Saints rallied to beat the Falcons in overtime, while the Giants beat the Houston Texans on the road to earn their first win of the season.
Giants head coach Pat Shurmur would love to see a similar effort against the Saints, because the offense protected Eli Manning and allowed him to have the time to find his receivers and stay upright.
The Giants have three skill-position stars in Manning, Odell Beckham Jr. and rookie Saquon Barkley. They should be able to move the ball well against a New Orleans Saints defense that has struggled through the first three games of the season.
The Saints can move the ball and score against the Giants defense as well. The combination of Drew Brees and Michael Thomas is one of the most explosive QB-WR duos in the league.
The total in this game is 50 points, and we expect these two teams to fly past that total in the fourth quarter. Take the over in this game.
Football bettors who are interested prop bets can make a wager on the first touchdown scorer in the Minnesota Vikings-Los Angeles Rams Thursday night game.
Oddschecker lists Todd Gurley as the 7-2 favorite (wager $100 to win $350) to score the opening touchdown, and those odds seem reasonable considering Gurley's involvement in the offense.
He has scored five touchdowns (four rushing, one receiving) in the first three games. Rams wide receiver Brandin Cooks is listed at 8-1, and so are fellow wideouts Cooper Kupp and Robert Woods.
Running backs Dalvin Cook and Latavius Murray are listed at 10-1 for the Vikings, while Minnesota receivers Adam Thielen, Stefon Diggs and Kyle Rudolph are listed at 12-1.
We usually like to go with something of a long shot for this prop, but Gurley is just too powerful to ignore. We'll take the 7-2 odds and go with the NFL's best running back.