It’s only Week 6 of the 2014 NFL season, but the St. Louis Rams are quickly running out of time. Entering their upcoming contest at 1-3, the Rams’ hopes of making the playoffs will be severely damaged if they can’t beat the San Francisco 49ers on “Monday Night Football.”
St. Louis finds themselves in last place of arguably the toughest division in the NFL. The defending champion Seattle Seahawks are tied atop the NFC West with the 3-1 Arizona Cardinals, and at 3-2, the 49ers remain one of the favorites in the conference. With the most difficult schedule in the NFC, the Rams can hardly afford to lose a divisional matchup at home.
The Rams’ first two home games account for two of the worst losses in the 2014 season. In the opener, St. Louis lost by 28 points to the visiting Minnesota Vikings, who appear to be headed for a last-place finish in the NFC north. Two weeks later, the Rams blew a 21-0 lead, falling 34-31 to the Dallas Cowboys.
Since their blowout loss in Week 1, all of the Rams’ games have been close. They squeaked by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers with a two-point win in Week 2, and had a chance to beat the Philadelphia Eagles in the final minute of last week’s contest.
Down to the No.3 quarterback, things could be worse for the Rams than they actually are. With Sam Bradford out for the season with an injury and Shaun Hill getting hurt in Week 1, Austin Davis has been more than adequate at quarterback. He ranks in the top 10 in passing yards per game, completion percentage and quarterback rating.
If the Rams hope to pull off the upset at home, they’ll likely need Davis to have a big game. San Francisco’s offense will present a major challenge to the St. Louis defense. They rank 30th in the NFL, allowing 29.8 points per game.
The 49ers bring their No.3 ranked running offense to St. Louis against the No.29 run defense. Frank Gore leads the team with 365 rushing yards, but Colin Kaepernick has 205 yards on the ground, along with Carlos Hyde’s 132 yards.
When Kaepernick has been forced the throw the ball, the 49ers have come out on the losing end. He’s averaging 35.5 passing attempts in the team’s two defeats, and 26.2 attempts in their victories. The Rams sport the top passing defense in the league, allowing just 192.3 yards per game through the air.
Week 6 marks the Rams’ first primetime game of the 2014 schedule. The 49ers have thrived on “Monday Night Football,” holding the all-time record with 45 wins.
On the road, the betting odds at Las Vegas casinos have the 49ers as 3.5-point favorites. The Rams have only covered one point spread this season, via vegasinsider.com.
The over/under of 43.5 points is the second-lowest in Week 6. San Francisco and St. Louis rank 20th and 23rd, respectively, in scoring average. The 49ers are one of eight teams that hasn’t allowed 30 points in a game.
Prediction: The 49ers have bounced back after losing two of their first three games, and they should be able to take care of business against an inferior Rams team. San Francisco will be able to control the game with their rushing attack, and Davis could finally have some trouble against an elite defense.
Predicted Score: San Francisco 27, St. Louis 19