NFL Betting Preview - Thursday September 26th
San Francisco 49ers (1-2) @ St Louis Rams (1-2)
NFL Regular Season – Week 4
Thursday Night Football goes West to open up week 4 of the NFL regular season as two teams of recent ill fates meet in a game that, although early, could have major implications.
After kicking off the season in a similar explosive vein as they closed 2012 with a dynamic victory over the still heavily favoured Green Bay Packers, very few would have imagined the San Francisco 49ers heading into week 4 with a 1-2 record. We get the feeling that the 49ers have become a somewhat of a marked team after their domination of the past two seasons saw them competing in the NFC Championship game and then the Super Bowl back in February. As a ‘heavyweight’ in the NFL it is natural process for the opposition to raise their game as your opposition, none more so than your divisional rivals which the 49ers are finding out all too often recently; having finished with a .500pct last season they have lost their opening divisional tie of 2013 and perhaps most poignantly were without a victory in 2 attempts versus the Rams last season.
It all began so well for San Francisco who seemed as though they’d never been away over the off-season. They had trounced the Green Bay Packers 28-34 in their opening game of the season and with rising star quarterback Colin Kaepernick throwing for 412 yards and three touchdowns, newly acquired receiver Anquan Boldin going over 200 on debut and their revered defense forcing fumbles and interceptions, the embryonic signs pointed towards another trip to the playoffs – at very least.
There is however always the notion of peaking too soon. Since that impressive showing in week 1 the 9ers have been a mere husk of their not-so-former selves: having scored a total of just 10 points in their previous two games, whilst their star QB and wide receiver combination have failed to achieve in two outings what they totalled in that one to open 2013.
Perhaps more worryingly for head Coach Jim Harbaugh is the current plight of his once mighty 49ers defense. For the past two stellar seasons the 49ers have built their foundation for success on the other side of the ball and have ranked consistently top 5 against both the pass and the rush. In stark contrast, 3 games into this season they rank 12th on total defense yet the real cause for concern comes in their 29th ranked run defense that has allowed the highest amount of touchdowns on the ground to the opposition. Add to that mix the fact they have conceded the 8th highest amount of points to the opposition so far this season and eyebrows will begin to raise. Having lost long-standing favourites Isaac Sopoaga and Dashon Goldson between seasons, the news of Aldon Smith’s DUI and self-preservation respite will not be welcomed in a backfield and front 7 that have been run all over in consecutive weeks by Marshawn Lynch (Seahawks) and Ahmad Bradshaw (Colts). It is with this knowledge that the red and gold will be looking forward to the possible run-reprieve they’re going to get in week 4 against a Rams side that averages just 57.0 rushing yards per game this season and are 1 of 4 teams that have yet to score a rushing touchdown in 2014 – in comparison St Louis Rams hold up halfway so far at 16th against the run, though the likes of Kendall Hunter and Frank Gore will be invigorated by the fact they allowed DeMarco Murray cut loose for 175 yards and touchdown in a 7-31 mauling in Dallas last week.
PinnacleSports provides by far the best odds in the one
49ers – 1.602
Rams – 2.50
49ers (-3) – 1.877
Rams (+3) – 2.03
The odds are clearly stacked in the 49ers favour, most likely on the assumption that a team oozing with this much talent cannot possibly be unrecognizably poor for a third game in a row, though the close proximity of the handicap indicates a victory will not be as straightforward as the money line odds may first suggest.
You may be swayed by the fact that San Francisco simply have more methods of victory at their disposal than their week 4 opponents. As we have highlighted establishing the run game is the route to victory over the 49ers this season, though after losing and failing to replace franchise running back Steven Jackson in the summer, St Louis seemingly do not have the personnel at their disposal to do this.
It would be foolish however to ignore the fact that statistics can often head out of the window along with the form book when it comes to divisional ties. St Louis Rams were unbeaten in BOTH fixtures vs 49ers last season including a 13-16 victory in the Edward Jones Dome in week 13.
Back San Francisco 49ers -3 at 1.877 with Pinnacle
For those of you feeling a little more adventurous with your money this week, take a gander at PinnacleSports’ odds on there being Under 42 points in the game at 1.962.
With two limited rush attacks on display there is every chance this game may take to the skies. St Louis QB Sam Bradford ranks 8th in total passing yards so far this season yet he faces stiff competition opposite the 49ers who also rank 8th but in pass defense.
San Francisco currently averages just 14.7 points per game this season whilst St Louis have managed 19.3 up to this point. Add them up and it seems like we’re going UNDER for week 4