St. Louis Rams (7-8) at San Francisco 49ers (4-11)
The Rams have gone from being favored by 2.5 points on the early line last week to being favored by 3.5 points this week. That might not seem like a huge difference, but about 1 in 6 games are decided by exactly a field goal, so it definitely is. It’s pretty obvious why the change occurred, as the Rams pulled off an upset victory as double digit underdogs in Seattle last week. However, I love fading significant line movements whenever it makes sense and I don’t really think the Rams should be favored by more than a field goal over anyone, even the lowly 49ers, given that running back Todd Gurley isn’t expected to play. The Rams rank 30th in rate of moving the chains differential and, while the 49ers are dead last in that metric, they should be able to keep it close against a Rams teams that, without Gurley, has easily the least talented offense in the NFL.
The Rams’ victory last week was certainly a very big one, but they would have had a much tougher time winning that game if they didn’t win the turnover battle by 3 (and return a fumble for a touchdown). Turnover margins are highly inconsistent on a week-to-week basis. A team that wins the turnover margin by 3, on average, has a turnover margin of +0.1 the following week. As bad as the 49ers have been, they’re just -4 in turnovers on the year. On top of that, teams are just 50-70 ATS off of a win as double digit underdogs, dating back to 1989. That’s because teams tend to be overvalued and overconfident off of a huge upset victory like that. Eliminated from the playoffs, the Rams won their Super Bowl last week and could easily get caught off guard by the 49ers this week. They also shouldn’t be favored by this many on the road against anyone. I’m comfortable putting money on San Francisco.
St. Louis Rams 10 San Francisco 49ers 9
Pick against the spread: San Francisco +3.5