Bet the Total for 49ers vs. Rams Monday Night Football Picks

Jason Lake

Saturday, October 11, 2014 3:14 PM UTC

Saturday, Oct. 11, 2014 3:14 PM UTC

The San Francisco 49ers have a reputation as a strong defensive team. But it’s their struggles on offense that make the UNDER worth investigating for Monday night’s matchup against the St. Louis Rams.

Jason’s record after Week 5: 19-16 ATS, 5-7-1 Totals

Profit: plus-0.1 units

Something is not right with the San Francisco 49ers. It isn’t just the fact that they’re playing in the middle of a parking lot 45 miles away in Santa Clara. We’re talking about what used to be one of the very best offenses in the NFL. The Niners are experiencing some serious technical difficulties getting into the end zone, and people betting the UNDER have taken advantage, getting paid four out of five times.

Will the Niners make it 5-for-6 on Monday Night Football? It looks promising; their hosts for the evening are the St. Louis Rams, who are scoring at an even lower rate than San Francisco. As we go to press, our Week 6 NFL odds board shows a total of 43.5 points for this contest, same as it was at the open, with 60 percent of bettors pounding the OVER according to our consensus reports.

18 Again
Let’s go directly to the data. Here are the DVOA rankings at Football Outsiders for San Francisco’s offense, covering each of Jim Harbaugh’s four seasons at the helm.

2011: No. 18 (No. 13 pass, No. 24 rush)
2012: No. 5 (No. 5 pass, No. 3 rush)
2013: No. 8 (No. 4 pass, No. 14 rush)
2014: No. 18 (No. 21 pass, No. 8 rush)

Offense goes up, offense goes down. We can trace San Fran’s improvement to the change in coaching regime, and the change at quarterback in mid-2012 from Alex Smith to Colin Kaepernick. But let’s not forget, the Niners offense was humming along quite nicely that year with Smith (104.1 passer rating) under center. Kaepernick had a 98.3 passer rating in 2012 over the same 218 throws that Smith made.

The Hard Option
It was the running (6.6 yards per carry) that made Kaepernick so much more valuable to the Niners. Sadly, it doesn’t look like we’re ever going to see those 2012 numbers again, whether it’s from Kaepernick or Robert Griffin III (6.8 yards per carry) or Cam Newton (5.8 yards). They’ve taken too many hits while running with the ball, especially Griffin. The only quarterback weaving that level of magic these days is Russell Wilson (7.2 yards), and he’s very smart about it, sliding and getting out of bounds and otherwise avoiding trouble.

Kaepernick is still giving the Niners 4.8 yards per carry this year, better than RB Frank Gore (4.7 yards) and his running mate, Carlos Hyde (3.9 yards). But as we discussed in our look at the opening odds, these yards are coming at a price. Here are Kaepernick’s career DVOA stats for rushing:

2012: minus-1.5 percent (No. 24 overall)
2013: plus-11.8 percent (No. 19)
2014: minus-15.9 percent (No. 30)

Yes, that’s a negative DVOA in Kaepernick’s breakout season. He fumbled the ball seven times that year – the other price you pay for scrambling around like that. Kaepernick was much more efficient in 2013 because he only fumbled three times. This year, he has just the one fumble in five starts, but his yardage is down and he hasn’t rushed for any touchdowns yet.

That could change Monday night (8:30 p.m. ET, ESPN). The St. Louis Rams only have the No. 30-ranked defense in the league; however, against the run, they’re in the middle of the table at No. 18. More specifically, the St. Louis defensive line ranks No. 4 in run blocking, and No. 1 in stuffing opponents at the line of scrimmage. When making your NFL picks keep in mind those defenders should have a freshness advantage over San Francisco after taking the early bye in Week 4. Let the hammer fall.

Free NFL Pick: Bet one unit on UNDER 43.5 (+106) at William Hill

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