Monday Night Football Picks: Los Angeles Rams at San Francisco 49ers Odds
by Alan Matthews - 9/8/2016
Let me just say a few things right off the bat about the Monday nightcap in Week 1 between the Los Angeles Rams and the San Francisco 49ers at Levi's Stadium, host of last year's Super Bowl:
1) I'm fairly confident I won't be previewing a game for either of these two teams the rest of 2016 as neither is really all that interesting and both are likely to finish below .500 -- the 49ers well below;
2) I am not going to get into 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick's antics before the National Anthem and whether I think they are right or wrong, just that I wouldn't do it. Kaepernick won't play on Monday unless starter Blaine Gabbert gets hurt, so the anthem isn't relevant;
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3) ESPN wasn't going to show the anthem because it usually doesn't in a sporting event. But because it's newsworthy, the network will this time. However, I will be watching this game with the sound down because Chris Berman will be the play-by-play guy. Berman is a Hall of Fame sportscaster, but his talent is in hosting studio shows like Sunday NFL Countdown or the former NFL Primetime. He and the recently retired Tom Jackson were great in those shows, but Berman is a horrible play-by-play guy. Incidentally, this is Berman's final season at ESPN.
Rams at 49ers Betting Story Lines
If you are like me, you can't wait every summer for HBO's "Hard Knocks", and this year the Rams were the featured team. The NFL basically told the Rams they had to do it after the league approved the team's move to Los Angeles this past offseason. This is the Rams' first game that matters back as L.A.'s team since Christmas Eve 1994 when the Rams lost 24-21 at Anaheim Stadium to the Washington Redskins.
I thought the Rams vastly overpaid in draft picks to land the No. 1 overall pick in this year's draft because there was no franchise QB available. And a lot of scouts thought the same thing. Yet the Rams mortgaged the future to select Cal's Jared Goff. If you watched "Hard Knocks," Goff has a long way to go. He's not only not starting this game, he won't be active. Incumbent starter Case Keenum gets the call, and his backup will Sean Mannion, a 2015 third-round pick out of Oregon State. Punter Johnny Hekker will be the emergency backup! Goff was originally the second-favorite to win NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year honors because No. 1 overall picks almost always start from the get-go. But now Goff is +1800 at BetOnline.
Keenum is solid, I guess, but the Rams are clearly going to run the ball a ton with Todd Gurley, the reigning Rookie of the Year. He should only be stronger one more year removed from ACL surgery. There's not much more to like on that offense. The defense should be very good and there's no better tackle in the NFL than Aaron Donald. He's the +500 second-favorite behind J.J. Watt (+300) to win Defensive Player of the Year.
I project the Rams to probably go 6-10 or so yet somehow Coach Jeff Fisher will not be fired again. The worse the Rams do, the better for the Tennessee Titans as they hold L.A.'s 2017 first-round pick.
This will be the regular-season head coaching debut with the 49ers of former Eagles coach Chip Kelly. I think Philly should have simply stripped Kelly of personnel power and kept him as coach as the team was 26-21 under him. This stop will certainly be Kelly's last chance in the NFL to succeed, but just about any major NCAA program would hire him after his Oregon success. Why do I think he will be USC's coach in two years?
The 49ers are going to be one of the NFL's worst offensive teams with Blaine Gabbert at quarterback. You may not even have heard of two of three starting receivers on the Week 1 depth chart: Jeremy Kerley (just acquired in trade) and Quinton Patton. Running back Carlos Hyde has some potential but can't stay healthy. Naturally, he's coming of a concussion suffered in the team's final preseason game but is looking like he will play Monday. Hyde is +1600 to lead the NFL in rushing yards.
The San Francisco defense should be pretty solid with guys like NaVorro Bowman, Ahmad Brooks, 2015 first-round pick Arik Armstead and 2016 first-rounder DeForest Buckner. This team will probably be in a lot of 24-14 games and on the wrong side of most. To have the NFL's worst record, the Niners are +600 second-favorites behind Cleveland (+400).
Rams at 49ers Betting Odds and Trends
At 5Dimes , the Rams are -2.5 (-115) with a total of 43.5. On the moneyline, the Rams are -140 and 49ers +120. Just one alternate line as of this writing, with L.A. at -3 (+110). The Rams were 2-5-1 against the spread on the road last year and 1-7 "over/under." The 49ers were 5-3 ATS at home and 1-7 O/U.
The Rams are 3-12 ATS in their past 15 in Week 1. They are 1-5 ATS in their past six on Monday. The 49ers have covered five straight in Week 1. They are 2-7-1 ATS in their past 10 vs. the NFC West. The under is 6-1 in the Rams' past seven. It is 8-2 in the 49ers' past 10 vs. the NFC West. The under is 4-1 in the past five meetings.
Rams at 49ers Betting Prediction
The teams split last season, each winning at home. Kaepernick was still the starter in San Francisco's 27-6 loss in St. Louis in Week 8. It was Keenum vs. Gabbert in Week 17, a 19-16 49ers OT win.
This is an interesting one because I don't see the 49ers going without at least two wins in 2016. But I only give them a shot of winning in perhaps 3-4 home games (none on the road). This is one of them. I would give the 2.5 points, however. I rarely like a total better than a side in an NFL game, but I absolutely love the under here.
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Read more articles by Alan Matthews
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