If Sam Bradford can start getting it done on the road, the Rams are going to win this division. If the 49ers are going to salvage something of this season and make a push towards the postseason, they need this game, badly. Troy Smith is adding some energy to the San Francisco attack. The Rams have the most under-rated defense in the NFL. If the theory holds that the best QB in the division will generally win that division, then I like the Rams more and more. The (2-6) San Francisco 49ers will welcome the NFC West leading (4-4) St. Louis Rams in what is a must-win game for the men from the west coast, kickoff slated for 4:15 PM EST. The Rams have lost four straight and eight of 10 versus San Francisco. In the teams’ last meeting at Candlestick Park, St. Louis suffered its 14th straight loss, 35-0 on Oct. 4, 2009. It was San Francisco’ first shutout in 119 games, and the 49ers reached the end zone via special teams, offense and defense for the first time since Nov. 10, 1997.
Since a season-opening 17-13 defeat to Arizona on Sept. 12 sent them to their 14th straight home loss, the Rams (4-4) have won four in a row at the Edward Jones Dome. A 20-10 victory over visiting Carolina on Oct. 31 gave St. Louis more overall wins than it had in any of the previous three seasons. The development of No. 1 overall pick Sam Bradford, who has thrown five TDs with no interceptions in the last three games, has the Rams in the hunt for their first division title since 2003. Bradford, though, has yet to experience a road win. The Rams, who have dropped two of their three away games by a combined five points, have lost six straight away from St. Louis. Led by ends James Hall (team-high 6 1/2 sacks) and Chris Long (4 1/2) and linebacker James Laurinaitis (team-best 54 tackles), St. Louis has started to thrive under former defensive coordinator Spagnuolo. The Rams rank 10th in the NFL in total defense at 313.9 yards per game and have yielded more than 17 points twice. It’s hard to argue with the toughness of the Rams’ Steven Jackson. Six days after undergoing surgery to insert two pins into a broken left index finger, he rushed for 59 yards against the Panthers. He has run for 676 yards on the season. The Rams, opening a stretch of four of five on the road, will try to post their first road win over a West foe since a 13-9 victory over San Francisco on Nov. 18, 2007. They’ll be facing a 49ers team that’s won two of three following its worst start in 31 years.
Coach Mike Singletary has been patient, but the lack of consistent effort and inexcusable mental errors have taken a toll on his composure. With QB Alex Smith out, it’s been up to Troy Smith, who at one time had been converted to wide receiver, to direct the ‘Niners attack. The 49ers have no shortage of skilled offensive performers, but T.Smith’s adjustment hasn’t been a smooth one, especially with developing a chemistry with WR Michael Crabtree and mercurial TE Vernon Davis. Running back Frank Gore continues to be one of the league’s most unheralded players, and one has to wonder if he’ll ever get the recognition his production, durability and professional demeanor deserves. Coming off a disheartening road loss to Carolina the previous week when it allowed 10 unanswered points in the final 1:53, San Francisco (2-6) rebounded with a 24-16 victory over Denver in London on Oct. 31. Making his first start with the 49ers and third of his four-year career, Troy Smith replaced the injured Alex Smith and went 12 of 19 for 196 yards with a TD. He ran for the tying score in the fourth to spark a 21-0 49ers run. While coach Mike Singletary said this week that Alex Smith (separated left shoulder) would likely be the starter Sunday if healthy, Troy Smith took all the reps with the first-team offense Wednesday. If the 2006 Heisman Trophy winner gets his second straight start, the Rams’ eighth-ranked rush defense will likely see a lot of Frank Gore, who is fourth in the NFC with 691 rushing yards. St. Louis is allowing 97.8 yards per game on the ground. For the 49ers defense, linebacker Patrick Willis continues to make big play after big play week after week for a losing team. DE Jason Smith is another high-motor defender, while LB Manny Lawson is finally beginning to play up to his incredible physical skill level. He’ll have ample opportunity to display those skills this Sunday against a young, frisky Ram offense eager to make some noise outside of St. Louis.
Rams vs 49ers Spread, Line and Betting Odds:
St. Louis Rams +6
@ San Francisco 49ers -6
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Rams vs 49ers Prediction for Week 10
Spread Prediction (TOP PLAY) – San Francisco could very well volt themselves right back into the race for the NFC West with a win on Sunday. They are coming off of a bye week and should be well prepared to take on these resurgent Rams. The 49ers looked fairly impressive across the Ocean two Sunday’s ago when they took on the Broncos in London, England. The Rams are also coming off of a bye and are looking more and more poised each week to run away with the NFC West. These teams match up very similar to each other and it is difficult to decipher a clear advantage for both teams. I believe the 49ers are turning the corner at right around the correct time in the season and I believe they are poised for a fight the rest of the season. The 49ers are strong at home as they are 6-1-1 ATS in its last 8 games in Candlestick Park. They also have the Rams number, as San Francisco is 5-1 SU in its last 6 games when playing St. Louis and are 4-1 SU in its last 5 games when playing at home against St. Louis. St. Louis is 2-9 ATS in its last 11 games when playing San Francisco and are 1-4 ATS in its last 5 games when playing on the road against San Francisco. Sam Bradford has looked good this season but he is very questionable on the road as he owns a 75.4 QB rating away from the Edward Jones Dome. We will side with the home team in this one as they look to commence their late season push towards the postseason.
Top Play Prediction = 49ers -6
Game Total Prediction – This game is poised to play to the UNDER and I look for a very safe and calculated approach on the part of both clubs. Both teams are coming off of byes so there will take a few drives to get back into the swing of things. This game has a lot riding on it so both teams will most likely keep things on the ground and safe. The total has gone UNDER in 9 of St. Louis’s last 11 games and has gone UNDER in 8 of St. Louis’s last 11 games on the road. Sam Bradford has unquestionably been shaky on the road and the majority of the games they Rams have played on the road this season have found the UNDER. The total has gone UNDER in 7 of St. Louis’s last 8 games when playing San Francisco and the total has gone UNDER in 5 of St. Louis’s last 7 games when playing on the road against San Francisco. I look for Frank Gore and Stephen Jackson to get the ball early and often, which should chew the game clock up and produce a quick, low scoring affair. We will consider the UNDER in this very important NFC West showdown. Cheers!
Prediction = UNDER 38.5 Total Points