NFL Expert Picks Against the Spread: Los Angeles Rams at San Francisco 49ers
I'm not going to lie to you: This week's Rams-49ers matchup looks like the worst Thursday night game of the 2017 season. Perhaps the only one in the competition would be Bills at Jets on Nov. 2. But, you can bet on Rams-Niners, so here we are.
We all know that just one team in NFL history has finished a season at 0-16: the 2008 Detroit Lions. Last year's 49ers might have equaled that if they played in a division other than the NFC West. That's because their two wins were both against the "rival" Rams. In Week 1, the 49ers won 28-0 at home in a Monday night game that bordered on unwatchable. Your starting QBs that night were Blaine Gabbert and Case Keenum, and it was probably the highlight of the one-year Chip Kelly Era in San Francisco. In Week 16 in L.A., it was 22-21 for the Niners. Colin Kaepernick threw a 10-yard touchdown pass with 31 seconds remaining and scrambled for a 2-point conversion -- the 49ers were on a 13-game losing streak so Kelly opted to try for two. Might as well.
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While I do make fun of these teams, I think they are on the right track with good first-year offensive head coaches in Kyle Shanahan (49ers) and Sean McVay (Rams). The defenses already are pretty solid and have some excellent young building blocks. These teams won't be Browns-like terrible for a decade. Maybe just another year after this one -- Rams are ahead of the 49ers, though.
Rams at 49ers Betting Story Lines
It was assumed that the 49ers would be the NFL's worst offensive team this season west of the Jets, and that has borne out to be true as the Niners have totaled four field goals in losses to Carolina and Seattle -- granted, probably two of the five best defensive teams in the NFL. Brian Hoyer was just 15-for-27 for 99 yards and a pick in Sunday's 12-9 loss to the Seahawks. He failed to complete a pass more than 8 yards past the line of scrimmage. Why even keep throwing him out there? Get a look at rookie C.J. Beathard. To be fair, the 49ers' starting receivers are Pierre Garcon and Marquise Goodwin, and their No. 1 tight end is fifth-round rookie George Kittle. Not great.
On the bright side, Carlos Hyde is a pretty good running back when healthy, and he rushed for 124 yards on 15 carries vs. Seattle and is averaging 7.0 yards per tote this far. There's no question in my mind that this next offseason Shanahan/GM John Lynch will be heavily focused on adding offense through free agency and the draft.
As noted above, there's some talent on defense. One of those guys is 2017 late-first-round pick Reuben Foster, a linebacker out of Alabama who slipped out of the Top 10 due to injury concerns. He sat out Week 2 with an ankle injury and is questionable for this one. Safety Eric Reid left twice vs. the Seahawks with a knee injury, returned both times but then sat a third time for good. So monitor his status.
The Rams (1-1) already look miles ahead offensively from last season -- especially Jared Goff. He was 21-for-29 for 306 yards with a TD and no picks in the Week 1 win over Indianapolis and then 15-for-25 for 224 yards, a TD and a pick in Sunday's 27-20 home loss to Washington, where McVay was the OC last year. The Rams hired McVay almost exclusively to work with Goff. Todd Gurley looked closer to his rookie form in the loss to Washington by rushing for 88 yards and a TD on 16 carries and catching three passes for 48 yards and a TD. He is fumbling too much, though.
After holding out all of camp and missing Week 1, Rams Pro Bowl defensive tackle Aaron Donald, maybe the best in the business, returned in Week 2. He looked out of football shape a bit and didn't do much. That's partly why, no doubt, that the Redskins gashed the Rams for 229 yards rushing. No surprise, then, that Washington held the ball for 36:19. L.A. could be very short-handed in the secondary here as cornerback Kayvon Webster missed Week 2 with a shoulder injury and fellow corner Trumaine Johnson left with a leg injury.
Rams at 49ers Betting Odds and Trends
At 5Dimes , L.A. is a 1-point favorite (-125) with a total of 40.5. On the moneyline, the Rams are -132 and 49ers +112. On the alternate lines, L.A. is -2 (-115) and -2.5 (-110). The Rams are 1-1 against the spread (first road game) and 2-0 "over/under." The 49ers are 1-1 ATS (0-1 at home) and 0-2 O/U (0-1 at home).
The Rams are 1-8 ATS in their past nine. They are 2-6 ATS in their past eight on Thursday. The Niners are 1-6 ATS in their past seven on Thursday and 1-7 ATS in their previous eight at home. The under is 8-2 in the Rams' past 10 vs. the NFC West. It's 21-8 in the Niners' past 29 at home. The under is 4-1 in the past five meetings. The Rams are 2-6 ATS in the previous eight.
Rams at 49ers Betting Prediction
I love the under here more than the side because San Francisco is just so bad on offense. It has had 21 possessions this year with 24 first downs, 11 punts, four field goals, three losses on downs, two interceptions and one lost fumble. As for the side, I doubt the Niners are going winless at home, and I don't see a lot of other options to get a W there. Plus in their past 22 games, they are 3-0 vs. the Rams and 0-19 vs. everyone else. San Francisco it is at +2.5 (I'd probably wait and buy up to 3.5). All things equal, and this nearly is, I still like the home teams in these quick turnarounds.
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Read more articles by Alan Matthews
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