Monday Night Football Picks: Los Angeles Rams at San Francisco 49ers

Los Angeles Rams at San Francisco 49ers
Levis Stadium – Santa Clara, California
Monday, September 12, 2016, 10:20 pm Eastern, TV: ESPN
Opening Line: Los Angeles -2
Current Line: Los Angeles -2 1/2 (-120)
Opening Total: 46 1/2
Current Total: 42
Opening Money Line: Rams -145 / 49ers +125
Current Money Line: Rams -150 / 49ers +130

The Rams are a slight road favorite at the rival 49ers Monday night.
The Rams are a slight road favorite at the rival 49ers Monday night.

For the first time since 1994 an NFL team based in Los Angeles will take the field for a regular season contest. The St. Louis Rams moved back to Los Angeles and will play in the famed LA Coliseum for three seasons until a new stadium is built. The home opener is next week against the Seattle Seahawks.

However, first comes a road game on Monday night against the San Francisco 49ers. The 49ers made news of their own when in the pre-season quarterback Colin Kaepernick refused to stand for the national anthem in protest of racial inequality and injustice.  He later modified it to kneeling during the anthem, and since then football players at all levels have followed his lead and even athletes in other sports. Kaepernick will be the back-up behind Blaine Gabbert.

San Francisco leads the series 66-64-3. The teams split the season series last year with each winning at home. The Rams won in St. Louis 27-6 and the 49ers won at home 19-16 in overtime.

The Rams were 7-9 last season under coach Jeff Fisher. San Francisco was 5-11 and fired coach Jim Tomsula after one season. The 49ers hired former Philadelphia Eagles head coach Chip Kelly after the Eagles fired him.

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Los Angeles scored 18 points per game and allowed 21 per game. The Rams averaged 298 yards per game on offense including 175 passing and 122 rushing. The Rams allowed 368 yards per game on defense including 254 passing and 114 rushing yards. The Rams were 56/214 on third and fourth down conversions and opponents were 82/240. The Rams forced 41 sacks and allowed 18 last season. LA was +5 in turnovers.

The Rams traded up  and drafted quarterback Jared Goff with the #1 overall pick in the NFL draft. However, Goff is currently listed as the third string quarterback and will not even suit up Monday night. The Rams released Nick Foles so Case Keenum will start. Keenum threw for 828 yards with a touchdown after taking over for Foles midway through last season. Foles has yet to sign with another team.  Sean Mannion will be the back-up.

Running back Todd Gurley had an impressive rookie season despite recovering from a torn ACL suffered during his last year in college. Gurley had 229 carries for 1,106 yards and 10 touchdowns, and had 21 catches for 188 yards. Benny Cunningham and Malcolm Brown will also get some carries. Cunningham had 26 catches for 250 yards last year.

Receiver Kenny Britt had 36 catches for 681 yards and 3 touchdowns. Tight end Jared Cook had 39 catches for 481 yards. He signed with the Green Bay Packers. Tavon Austin had 52 catches for 473 yards and 5 touchdowns and also had 52 carries for 434 yards and 4 touchdowns. Tight end Lance Kendricks had 25 catches for 245 yards and 2 touchdowns. Five defensive players are listed as questionable or out.

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San Francisco scored 15 points per game and allowed 24 points. The 49ers allowed 387 yards per game on defense including 261 passing and 126 rushing yards per game. San Francisco averaged 304 yards per game on offense including 207 passing and 97 rushing. The 49ers were 74/232 on third and fourth down conversions and opponents were 88/221. The 49ers allowed 53 sacks and forced 28. San Francisco was -5 in turnovers.

Gabbert threw for 2,031 yards with 10 touchdowns and 7 interceptions and rushed for 185 yards with a touchdown. Kaepernick threw for 1,615 yards with 6 touchdowns and 5 interceptions and rushed for 256 yards with a touchdown.

Running back Carlos Hyde is probable with a concussion. Hyde had 115 carries for 470 yards and 3 touchdowns. Back-up Shaun Draughn is questionable with a back injury.

Receiver Anquan Bolden signed with the Detroit Lions. He had 69 catches for 789 yards and 4 touchdowns. Torrey Smith had 33 catches for 663 yards and 4 touchdowns. Quinton Patton had 30 catches for 394 yards and a touchdown. Tight end Vance McDonald had 30 catches for 326 yards and 3 touchdowns. Seven defensive players are listed on the injury report.

Los Angeles is 15-37-2 ATS in September, 1-4-1 in road games, 3-12 in week one, and 1-5 in Monday games. The under is 4-1 in this series recently and 4-1 in Northern California in the series.

San Francisco is 5-0 ATS in week one, 24-6 in Monday games, 6-13 on grass, and 2-7-1 against NFC West teams.

These two were two of the worst offenses in the league last year. I don’t see much improvement for either team. Ironically, more eyes will be on the back-ups Kaepernick and Goff for very different reasons. I think the Rams win a close game on the road in a low scoring game.

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