St. Louis Rams (2-5 SU, 2-5 ATS) vs. San Francisco 49ers (4-3 SU, 4-3 ATS)
NFL Football Week 9
Date and Time: Sunday, November 2, 2014 at 4:05PM EST
Where: Levis Stadium, Santa Clara, California
by Scott, NFL Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: STL +10.5/SF -10.5
Over/Under Total: 43.5
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The St. Louis Rams make the trip west to face the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday in an NFC West battle. St. Louis is languishing at 2-5, following a 34-7 loss at Kansas City on Sunday. San Francisco is coming off a bye week that followed a 42-17 loss at Denver that sent them to 4-3. They will naturally be looking for better results as they get into the second-half of the season.
After their win over the defending Champion Seahawks the week before, you could almost hear people thinking it looks like the Rams got their act together, as St. Louis took a 7-0 lead at Arrowhead last Sunday. Allowing 34 straight points en route to a romp threw water on that notion quickly. It was a disappointing result for a team that looked like they had been subtly rounding into form. Other than beating Seattle, they had fought hard in close losses to Dallas and Philadelphia. But with landslide defeats to the Chiefs, 49ers, and Vikings, we have seen a different St. Louis.
The first game between these division teams took place just a few weeks ago on October 13. In that MNF game, the Niners won 31-17. The Rams were looking good after taking a 14-0 lead, but not only blew the lead, they didnt even cover the spread. In the final 3 quarters of play, they could only manage 3 points of output, as the SF offense got into a groove and pulled away for a comfortable win. It was not one of the finer moments for St. Louis QB Austin Davis, as errant throws late cost the Rams a chance. Still, with a pick-six by the Niners in the waning moments, the score of that game looks a bit worse than it was, as St. Louis had a lead and was in the game practically until the end.
One of the great mysteries in the NFL is how the 49ers are consistently a bottom-half offense with all the tools they have. A good young dual-threat QB in Colin Kaepernick, the best RB in franchise history in Frank Gore, receivers like Anquan Boldin, Michael Crabtree, Stevie Johnson, and Brandon Lloyd, a top TE in Vernon Davis, and a loaded line. And still, only once this season have they surpassed 28 points.
With injuries mounting and a 1-2 start, San Francisco looked to be in trouble. Three straight wins put some wind in their sails, but they were certainly hoping for better results in their last game, even in Denver. The 25-point loss was a bitter way to go into the bye week, but despite everything this team has been through, they still have a chance to have a special season.
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The Niners were a team that prided themselves on having one of the best defenses in the game. They have fought hard to keep a depleted unit at the front of the pack. They are 8th against the pass and 4th against the run–phenomenal numbers considering all the injuries, suspensions, and player departures. Aldon Smith will rejoin the team shortly. Patrick Willis, Jimmie Ward, and Chris Culliver are all questionable for this week. In other words, as guys start to return, this group should get better later in the season and will perhaps remain fresher than some other teams.
If you want to call the Rams a bad team, that may be fair, but even bad teams can sometimes jump up and bite you. The Rams are one of those bad teams. QB Austin Davis has regressed in recent weeks, with only 315 yards in the air in the last two games. But hes put up some big numbers this season, going well over 300 yards and having three-touchdown games twice. They had a little success running the ball against the Niners the first time and maybe they can build on that with Zac Stacy, Bennie Cunningham, and Tre Mason. And Davis can perhaps build on the variety he used in the first game, where 9 different receivers caught a ball. But they now must push forward without leading receiver Brian Quick and LT Jake Long, both of whom are lost for the season. The entire line is battered, with Rodger Saffold and Scott Wells questionable for Sunday.
One may have noticed that in the Jim Harbaugh era, the Niners usually come through big in the regular season in crossroad games like this. A loss and a 4-4 record would make the second-half an excruciating grind and put them in a big hole for the division lead. Division-leader Arizona is 6-1 and the wild card picture already looks like its going to be crowded. While they are above the .500 mark and havent played half of their games yet, the 49ers need to get some good momentum started.
Coming off the bye, recharged mentally, and having given some banged-up players a chance to get better, I look for the 49ers to attack the second-half of the season with renewed vigor. The Rams are better than their record and is the type of team that can suddenly become very dangerous. I see San Francisco having a good game and covering the spread, with a depleted St. Louis team coming up just a bit short at the end.
Scott’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: Im betting on the San Francisco 49ers minus 10.5 points.