Monday Night Football Picks: San Francisco 49ers at St. Louis Rams Odds
by Alan Matthews - 10/9/2014
We all know that entering Week 6 the Thursday night games have been an abomination to watch so far. The Monday night games, outside of perhaps two (Chargers-Cardinals and Eagles-Colts) haven't been a heck of a lot better. Alas, I'm not sure that changes this week in what appears to be a mismatch between San Francisco and St. Louis.
Could this be the final Monday night game for Jim Harbaugh as 49ers coach? If I had a bet, I would say yes. The Niners don't play another MNF game this season, and you can't be flexed into that (sadly for ESPN). You hear a new report every week that Harbaugh will not be back next season. Ownership apparently doesn't like him much, nor does the front office nor the players. Harbaugh is a great coach, but he's so intense that he likely will always be one of those guys who can't stay somewhere more than five years without burning bridges. I don't think he wants the headaches of going back to college with recruiting, although the advantage is you run the entire show. My guess is that Harbaugh coaches the Miami Dolphins in 2015, presuming the Fins miss the playoffs and Joe Philbin gets fired -- both of which I expect.
Jeff Fisher is apparently safe in St. Louis despite a 15-20-1 mark. The Rams won seven games in each of his first two seasons, and I honestly thought they could be a wild-card team in 2014. Well, thought that until Sam Bradford blew out his knee (again) in the preseason. Then the Rams lost one of their best defensive players, end Chris Long, early in the year. He will return this season but not for several more weeks. Maybe it would be a good thing to bottom out, get a great player at the top of the 2015 draft and then contend next season. The defense has the talent to be a playoff team. The offense needs work. The question is: Would the Rams take someone like Marcus Mariota or Jameis Winston high in next year's draft? Or do they give Bradford one more season (no)? There's also the Austin Davis option.
San Francisco 49ers at St. Louis Rams Betting Story Lines
The 49ers could be 5-0, but they collapsed in the second half of their two losses. The ship appears to have been righted as San Francisco enters off close home wins over Philadelphia and Kansas City, two pretty good teams. Here is what has been the difference the past two weeks: the running game and defense. Frank Gore didn't do much the first three weeks but has had at least 107 yards rushing in the past two games. He also has gotten at least 18 carries, a number he didn't approach in Weeks 1-3. As for the defense, it held the high-powered Eagles to just 213 total yards and 11 first downs, forcing four turnovers. Last week, the Chiefs totaled only 265 yards and 14 first downs. That's Harbaugh old-school football. San Francisco is now third in the NFL in rushing and sixth in total defense. So far Colin Kaepernick hasn't had to win a game, which is probably good because he has been a bit uneven.
Injury-wise, the Niners have two key guys questionable who didn't play against Kansas City: Tight end Vernon Davis and starting offensive tackle Anthony Davis. Vernon Davis has really only been healthy for one game, and he caught two touchdowns in Week 1. Other than that he's been out or a non-factor.
The Rams have lost back-to-back games they could have won. In Week 3 they blew a 21-3 lead at home to Dallas, falling 34-31. Then last week off the bye, the Rams fell 34-28 in Philadelphia. St. Louis was down 34-7 at one point but got the ball back and had first down at midfield with 1:19 left thanks to a 43-yard pass from Davis to Brian Quick. However, St. Louis couldn't get another first down.
St. Louis turned the ball over three times in the Eagles game and had a punt and fumble returned for a score against it (then again the Eagles are doing that to everyone). Davis, who went undrafted out of Southern Miss, continues to put up big numbers. He threw for 327 yards and three scores vs. Dallas and 375 and three more against the Eagles. Fisher already has said Davis is his QB the rest of the season over Shaun Hill, who started Week 1 but was replaced.
Unfortunately for the Rams, their defensive strength is against the pass (No. 1) but weakness against the run (29th at 152.5 yards allowed per game). That plays right into San Francisco's gameplan. Another problem for the St. Louis defense: It has just one sack, the fewest in the NFL. Long is missed there. Robert Quinn was an NFL Defensive Player of the Year candidate last year but has just nine tackles and no sacks.
The 49ers swept St. Louis last year, winning each by double digits. This is the 700th Monday night game in history.
San Francisco 49ers at St. Louis Rams Monday Night Football Betting Odds and Trends
At Carbon Sports , San Francisco is a 3.5-point favorite (-110) with an "over/under" of 44. The Niners are -180 on the moneyline. Both the side -- even though San Francisco is taking a heavy lean -- and total have been pretty steady at the major books. The 49ers are 3-2 against the spread (1-1 on road) and 1-4 O/U (0-2 on road). The Rams are 1-3 ATS (0-2 at home) and 2-2 O/U (1-1 at home).
The Niners are 5-2 ATS in their past seven against teams with a losing record. The Rams have covered seven of their past nine at home vs. teams with a winning road record. St. Louis is 1-4 in its past five Monday night games. The under is 6-1 in San Francisco's past seven vs. the NFC. It is 8-2 in its past 10 following an ATS win. The under is 4-1 in the Rams' past four vs. the NFC West. It is 4-1 in St. Louis' past five vs. teams with a winning record. The home team has covered five of the past seven meetings.
San Francisco 49ers at St. Louis Rams Monday Night Football Picks and Betting Predictions
Definitely shop around here -- it is still 3 at some books but it appears to be moving up. Get that number now just in case (although it probably won't matter). I do worry this is a potential trap game for the Niners with a huge one next week in Denver. However, I simply don't see how the Rams will score enough points or stop the 49res running game. Thus, I love the under and San Francisco.
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Read more articles by Alan Matthews
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