San Francisco 49ers vs. LA Rams Week 17 Pick
San Francisco 49ers (4-11 SU, 5-10 ATS) vs. Los Angeles Rams (12-3 SU, 6-8-1 ATS)
NFL Week 17
Date/Time: Sunday, December 30, 2016 at 4:25PM EST
Where: Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, Los Angeles, California
By Loot Levinson, Expert Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: SF +10/LAR -10
Over/Under Total: 50
The San Francisco 49ers take on the Los Angeles Rams on Sunday in NFC West action from the LA Coliseum. The 49ers fell to the Bears, 14-9, on Sunday, but continue to show positive signs despite a rough-looking 4-11 mark heading into week 17. The Rams, coming off a troubling two-game losing streak, got back on the winning track with a 31-9 road-win over the Cardinals on Sunday. The Rams currently sit as the 2-seed in the NFC at 12-3. But a loss here, combined with a Bears win on Sunday, would mean they host a game on wild-card weekend. They have a lot to play for in this one. For that and other reasons, I like the Rams to get the win and cover this weekend.
Will the Sequel Be As Lopsided as the Original?
The Rams already crushed the 49ers at Levi’s Stadium on October 21 by a 39-10 score. A lot has changed obviously and the Niners might be in slightly better shape with Nick Mullens behind center and other guys having since stepped up. That was during the 49ers lowest point of the season, as they were struggling a lot more than they are now on both sides of the ball. Some things, however, might still be the same. Jared Goff was deathly-efficient against the San Fran secondary, while the Rams ran the ball with a lot of gusto in that game. And while the Niners are in better form now, the Rams also have an axe to grind. After their recent issues, going into the playoffs on a positive winning note means a lot, as does locking up the two-seed.
Where do the Rams Stand Heading into Week 17?
There is no doubt that the Rams encountered some late-season difficulty that has made them less of a go-to team to name when identifying the top contenders in the NFL. While they only played the lowly Cardinals on Sunday, we saw a lot of what made them so powerful this season. Without Todd Gurley (day-to-day), who is nursing a knee injury, newly-signed CJ Anderson ran for a big 167 yards. That line is large and in charge and kept Goff out of trouble as he sharply completed 19 of 24 passes. The 31 points scored was good after scoring just a combined 29 in their previous two games. With Gurley back, they look to turn this offense’s dial up another notch as they hit the postseason. Robert Woods and Brandin Cooks are both 1000-yards receivers and despite some injuries, they remain a robust force.
Again, it came against the Cardinals, but the Rams’ defense looks to get their act together heading into the playoffs. While it’s a problem-area to be sure, they have allowed a combined 70 points in their last four games and that includes the 30 they gave up to the Eagles a few weeks ago. So, it’s not all bad. They allowed 9 to the Cardinals last week and look to quell a 49ers’ offense that scored ten against them last time and only scored 9 points last week. This Rams’ defense has underachieved this season to a large extent, but some of those numbers are swelled-up from having faced just about every powerful offense in the league this year. In this realm, against a SF offense that isn’t that strong, they’ve been pretty solid. On Sunday, Ndamukong Suh had a sack and Luke Donald had three. Donald is 1.5 sacks away from the NFL record as he now has 21 on the season.
The Gutsy 49ers
This season’s 49ers remind us that there are different layers, even amongst teams with the same won-loss records. For a lot of teams that have this kind of record, the season is a lost cause. Heads roll. This season was ruined by injuries for the 49ers, with their injury list resembling the actual team roster. Both sides of the ball have been decimated. But a closer look shows a team that fought through it and got better over the season. This season may be a lost cause, but it sets up well for the future.
Key among the optimism are the developing tools on offense. The Niners had to dig deep in the barrel and found some gems. Mullens is not the long-term solution at QB, as he keeps the seat warm for Jimmy Garoppolo, but he has enjoyed some highlights. We see him bringing rookie Dante Pettis more into the fold, also gelling well with a growing force in TE George Kittle. With Marquise Goodwin healthier and a deep backfield with Matt Breida and Jeff Wilson, the Niners have shown a great deal of depth this season. They beat two teams in a row who both had playoff hopes, before narrowly losing on Sunday to one of the best teams in their conference. They’re not doing so badly.
The 49ers’ defense has performed well, all things considered. With a lack of support on the other side of the ball, along with a ton of injuries, they weren’t what they could be, but still pretty good. Against the better offenses they have faced, however, the more those inadequacies came into plain view. We saw that the first time around when these teams played. This is a defense that can provide resistance, but when an offense wields as many tools as the Rams, they’re in trouble.
Lay the Points on the Home Favorite
In a backwards kind of way, the Rams’ recent issues have made them more dangerous for the purposes of this game. If they had just kept winning and locked up a top-seed, you could almost see the Niners squeaking in there and giving the Rams a run for their money. But with some recent difficulty, the Rams have more of an agenda than they otherwise would have and that equals trouble for the 49ers. Granted, you’d hate to see the Rams pull starters and open the door for a backdoor cover with the number being so big. I still see this as being a pretty conclusive win for the Rams this week.
Loot’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: I’m betting on the Los Angeles Rams minus 10 points.
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