LOS ANGELES RAMS AT SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS (-6.5, 44.5)
The Rams have been infuriatingly inconsistent one year removed from a Super Bowl appearance. One week, they look dominant in a win over Seattle, the next, they head to Dallas and let the Cowboys drop 44 on them. And it’s been like that for L.A. most of the season.
One of the reasons for that inconsistency, has been their inability to get off to goo starts in games. When you think of the Rams, you think of Sean McVay and you expect him to have an awesome first 15 plays scripted. But the Rams just haven’t executed this year (more on that later).
That has resulted in the Rams being one of the worst teams in the NFL when it comes to first quarter scoring. They rank 26th in that category averaging just 3.0 points per contest in the opening frame. While on the other side, the 49ers have scored first in nine of their 14 games. We like the Niners to be the first to light up the scoreboard in this one and to do so with a major.
Pick: First Score - 49ers TD (+160)
FIRST HALF BET
The 49ers have been one of the NFL’s most potent first-half offenses in the second half of the season, averaging 17.9 first half points per contest over their last eight games. And a big reason for that has been the development of quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo and the passing game. The 28-year-old has posted a passer rating of 110.0 or greater in four of his last five starts and has a lot of help along the way.
Pro Bowl tight end George Kittle is healthy and erupted for a career-high 13 receptions and 134 yards against the Falcons. Rookie Deebo Samuel seems to be improving each time he gets on the field and Emmanuel Sanders looks more comfortable in the Niners offense each week. While the Rams posses a strong pass rush behind Aaron Donald, Garoppolo should be able to have success in this matchup and lead the Niners into the break with a decent lead.
Pick: 49ers -3.5 First Half Spread
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It has been a tough second half of the season for Rams’ leading receiver Cooper Kupp. The third-year receiver has just 239 yards over his last six games. That equates to just 39.8 yards per game. Not good. And things get tougher this week. The Niners expect to have PFF’s No. 1 cornerback Richard Sherman back for this matchup. Getting Sherman back will only boost the No. 2 DVOA defense that has given up some big yardage over the past few weeks. Kupp was also limited to just four catches for 17 yards when these teams met back in Week 6, in a 20-7 Niners win. His receiving yardage total just seems a little to high for this matchup.
Pick: Cooper Kupp Under 58.5 Receiving Yards (-120)
FULL GAME TOTAL
You can expect a heavy does of the running game from both teams in this game. The Rams run the ball more than anyone in the NFL not named the Ravens, and while the Rams rank sixth in DVOA against the run, they have allowed the third most rushing yards over the last three games, including getting rumbled on by the Cowboys for 263 yards last week. And the Rams will have their hands full with the Niners three-headed monster at running back in Tevin Coleman, Matt Breida, and Raheem Mostert.
Meanwhile, the Rams will have to lean on Todd Gurley if they want to keep this one close. The run game is the one soft spot in the Niners defense, ranking 12th in DVOA and 26th in opponent yards per attempt, allowing 4.6 yards per carry. With a focus on the run game, defenses that combine to allow just over 40 points per game, and the fact these divisional games are usually close, we like this one to stay below the number.
Pick: Under 44.5
FULL GAME SIDE
While the 49ers have given up some big numbers through the air recently, that has come against Lamar Jackson, Drew Brees and Matt Ryan. And now Sherman is back. And to take something from Josh Inglis in this week’s edition of “NFL bets you need to make,” Jared Goff has passed for over 1,000 yards in the last three weeks, but those were against Bottom-15 DVOA defenses. Against Top-10 defenses, Goff has averaged 176 yards, including a 78-yard performance against the 49ers in Week 6. 78 yards! And he once again will have to deal with likes of Nick Bosa, DeForest Buckner and Arik Armstead will make life tough on Goff this week.
So, you can expect a heavy does of Gurley for the Rams in this matchup, but that won’t be enough. Plus, the Rams have just been far too inconsistent this season to have faith in them to cover this number, on the road, against a motivated Niners team looking to secure home field advantage.
Pick: 49ers -6.5