St. Louis Rams (5-6) at San Francisco 49ers (7-4)
The 49ers blew out the Redskins on Monday Night Football, 27-6. This is obviously good because the 49ers needed that win to stay in the 6th seed over the Cardinals, but also because teams almost always tend to carry the momentum from a huge Monday Night blowout into the next week. Teams are 30-13 ATS since 2002 off of a Monday Night win by 21 or more.
The 49ers in general seem to blowout bad teams. Colin Kaepernick has had his share of issues this season, but he’s played well against teams that currently have a .500 or worse record this season, completing 86 of 138 for 1290 yards, 10 touchdowns, and no interceptions, while rushing for 189 yards and 3 touchdowns on 38 carries in 6 games. They’ve won all 5 of those games by an average of 21.3 points per game. This is nothing new, as the 49ers are 21-11 ATS as favorites of 3 or more since Jim Harbaugh took over before the 2011 season. They generally take care of inferior competition pretty easily.
The Rams are definitely inferior competition. Sure, they’ve won their last 2 games by 21+ to put them at 5-6, but they’re not as good as their record. The way they’re winning is unsustainable. Since 1989, there have been 25 instances of a team winning by 17 or more despite losing the first down battle by 9 or more. The Rams have done that 3 times this season (and one of their other wins came against Jacksonville).
After their first game of that type, they got blown out in Carolina 30-15. After their second, they beat Chicago 42-21. However, teams are 6-18 ATS since 1989 off of that type of game, which I think is definitely worth noting. Teams tend to be overconfident and overvalued in that situation and I think both are true here. The Rams won’t be able to consistently rely on return touchdowns, big plays, and winning the turnover battle, especially not against a team like San Francisco, just like they couldn’t against Carolina.
They couldn’t do that against the 49ers the last time they played each other, losing by 24, and that was at home. And that was when they still had Sam Bradford under center and when San Francisco was without Patrick Willis and Aldon Smith and struggling during a 1-2 start. That line was 3 in the road, which would translate to about 9 at home, which is right around where this line is. I don’t think that’s right, considering how the 49ers blew them out and what’s happened since.
The only real way the Rams are better since then is they now have Zac Stacy, who has emerged as a feature back in this off-season. However, he might miss this game with a concussion, which would leave Benny Cunningham as the starter. Sure, he rushed for 109 yards and a touchdown on 13 attempts last week, but that was against the Bears’ pathetic run defense. He rushed for just 6 yards on 4 carries against the 49ers earlier this year and, again, that was when the 49ers were without Willis and Smith. The 49ers should be able to blow the Rams out here. This is my Pick of the Week as long as it’s in single digits.
San Francisco 49ers 34 St. Louis Rams 10
Pick against spread: San Francisco -9.5
Confidence: Pick of the Week