St. Louis Rams (2-5) at San Francisco 49ers (4-3)
The Rams were blown out last week in Kansas City as 7 point underdogs, but I have reasons to believe that they won’t get blown out here as 10 point underdogs in San Francisco. One, they are in their second straight road game, rather than last week when they were in their first road game. Teams are 108-70 ATS as road underdogs off a road loss since 2008, including 92-48 ATS when it’s their 2nd straight (and not 3rd straight) road game and they next play a home game. Historically, teams cover at about a 65% rate in that situation. This is because teams tend to do better in their 2nd straight road game than their first one, but lines don’t really adjust for this. Teams are 181-184 in their 2nd of two road games since 2008, getting outscored by an average of 0.10 points per game, as opposed to 254-364 in their 1st of one road game since 2008, getting outscored by an average of 3.28 points per game.
Two, while the Rams were facing a Chiefs team that was in a great spot last week (with only a game against the Jets on deck), the Rams are getting the 49ers before they play the Saints in New Orleans next week. They will almost definitely be underdogs next week and double digit favorites are 51-69 ATS since 2002 before being underdogs. Three, I think the Rams were facing a significantly better team last week when they faced the Chiefs than they are now facing the 49ers.
The 49ers haven’t been nearly as good this season as they’ve been in previous seasons under Jim Harbaugh, as a result of guys like NaVorro Bowman, Aldon Smith, and Glenn Dorsey being out with injury and suspension. They rank just 22nd, moving the chains at a 74.04% rate, as opposed to 75.86% for their opponents, a differential of -1.82%. The Chiefs, meanwhile, rank 2nd in rate of moving the chains. This is actually going to be a much easier game for the Rams than last week’s, even before you take into account that the 49ers are in a bad spot and that the Rams are in their 2nd straight road game.
The Rams, meanwhile, rank 26th, moving the chains at a 73.33% rate, as opposed to 77.03% for their opponents, a differential of -3.70%. The 49ers are getting healthier, with Anthony Davis returning from extended absence and Patrick Willis coming back from missing the 49ers’ last game, while the Rams are now without top offensive lineman Jake Long and top wide receiver Brian Quick, but this line should still be no higher than a touchdown when you take everything into account, including the situational trends. The 49ers usually do well as big favorites, going 25-15 ATS in the Jim Harbaugh era as favorites of 3 or more, but they are just 2-3 ATS in that spot this season and I think this is going to be another ATS loss for them.
San Francisco 49ers 20 St. Louis Rams 16
Pick against spread: St. Louis +10