Los Angeles Rams vs. Indianapolis Colts: NFL Week 2 odds, analysis and picks

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Los Angeles Rams (-3.5, 48.5) at Indianapolis Colts

Sean McVay had to spend some time thinking about the risk-reward of not using Matthew Stafford in the preseason. The longtime Lions quarterback might have put on a new team’s helmet and jersey for the first time in his career in August but did not get any game reps until Week 1.

As it turned out, McVay and the Rams had nothing to worry about. Stafford looked to have a firm grip on the offense and threw for 329 yards on just 20 completions, with a near-perfect 156.1 passer rating, in the Rams' easy victory.

The task at hand gets tougher this week, as the Rams face an Indianapolis Colts team that many predict to win the AFC South, or at least make a playoff push as a wild-card contender. With a long trip to Indy for the first road game of the season, sharp and public bettors are at odds about the right side in this game.

Early look-ahead lines for this game had the Rams in the -3 range. When the Week 2 lines actually came out, the Rams opened -4.5 at most sportsbooks. That adjustment was a direct result of what happened in Week 1, as Los Angeles looked great for the most part against the Chicago Bears and the Colts looked the opposite in a loss to the Seattle Seahawks.

As the week has gone on, we’ve seen a sharp vs. public split on this game, meaning that the majority of the bets are on the Rams, but the line has gone down because of more respected betting action on the Colts. We’ve also seen the total get bet up on this game, but everybody seems to be in agreement with that line move.

Stafford was sacked only once against the Bears, who failed to apply much pressure. Stafford completed passes to six receivers, with Cooper Kupp his favorite target (seven catches for 108 yards). The Bears gave up some explosive plays in the passing game because Stafford had so much time to throw.

The Colts did sack Russell Wilson three times last week but explosive plays were the big story. Wilson threw four touchdown passes and had 254 passing yards on just 18 completions. When the pass rush didn’t get there, the Colts struggled in coverage. The move on the total seems pretty reasonable, given that Stafford could have the same results.

The questions for the Rams in this game are on the defensive side. The Bears — and David Montgomery, in particular — ran the ball effectively, but Andy Dalton was predictably inept. The Rams will have their hands full with a stable of backs that includes Jonathan Taylor and Nyheim Hines, who is also key in the passing game.

Carson Wentz was 25-of 38 passing for 251 yards in his Colts debut. Like Stafford, Wentz did not play in a preseason game, but he also missed valuable time because of an injury and a few days on the COVID-19 list. Those missed reps seemed to play a role. Twelve of his 25 completions, and 108 of his 251 passing yards, went to running backs. That will make the task at hand a little easier for the Rams' defense if the Colts cannot stretch the field vertically.

With the travel for the Rams and a semi-short week off of Sunday Night Football, you can understand why sharp money is backing the home underdog here, but the Rams looked like a more polished team last week and, more importantly, Stafford looked like a quarterback in a better rhythm than Wentz.

It’s a quarterback-driven league and the Rams have the upper hand.

Pick: Los Angeles Rams -3.5

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.