Los Angeles Rams (7-2) at San Francisco 49ers (3-5)
The 49ers are just 3-5, but their efficiency ratings are much better than their record, especially when adjusted for their above average schedule. Overall, they rank 7th, 7th, and 13th on offense, defensive, and special teams efficiency, which is more predictive of future winning than wins or points are. The 49ers’ biggest issue has been the turnover margin, as they are tied for 2nd worst in the league at -9, but turnover margin has almost no week-to-week predictability, so the 49ers are not any more than likely than any other team to continue struggling in the turnover margin going forward and, assuming they can play turnover neutral football, they should be a tougher opponent than their record suggests for the foreseeable future.
The 49ers are still not near full strength due to injuries, but I think they are in relatively better injury shape than they have been most of the season, with key players like left tackle Trent Williams, tight end George Kittle, and safety Jimmie Ward all in expected to be in the lineup this week, the first time they have all played in the same game since week 4. The 49ers are coming off of their worst game of the season, losing at home to the Cardinals led by a backup quarterback, but Ward didn’t play in that game and it’s very possible the 49ers just looked past the Cardinals with this game on deck. The Rams didn’t have a good week either last week and yet this line shifted in San Francisco’s favor, moving from Rams -3 on the early line last week to -4 this week, a significant shift given that about 1 in 6 games are decided by exactly a field goal.
The Rams are obviously one of the top teams in the league, especially with Von Miller coming in to give them a boost on defense at the edge defender spot and Odell Beckham giving them a replacement for the injured Robert Woods, but the 49ers are much better than their record and too good to be getting 4 points at home in this game, especially with Beckham unlikely to play a full snap count in his first game with the team. My calculated line is even, so we’re getting significant line value with this line being on the other side of 3, with about 1 out of 4 games decided by 3 points or fewer. The 49ers are good enough to pull this upset at home and even if they don’t, I like their chances of keeping this close enough to cover the spread. This is a big play.
San Francisco 49ers 24 Los Angeles Rams 23 Upset Pick +170
Pick against the spread: San Francisco +4