Sunday, 4:25 PM ET (FOX)
If You Must Bet: Over
Best Line Offered: BetOnline
This is a game of the haves versus the have-nots. Arguably the best team in the league, at home no less, taking on a team that will most likely secure a top-three pick in April. Should be a double-digit dose of devastation for the Niners, right? Well, the NFL odds board is hanging the Rams at about -10 right now and if this was not the last game of the regular season, with LA all but a lock to secure a first-round bye, this line would more likely be in the vicinity of 14 to 17. But that’s the kicker if you’re a dog lover because LA needs either a win or a Chicago loss in Week 17 so there is something to play for on Sunday.
However, if you’re inclined to back the Rams in your NFL picks, knowing the line is lower than normal, then I should caution you that LA’s running back extraordinaire, Todd Gurley, is likely to sit this one out so that he avoids injury and will be fresh for the Rams’ first postseason foe. In addition, if the Rams are up by a substantial margin you could very well see the first-stringers get an early reprieve as their backups take the field. Can you say backdoor cover? I hope you can because that could very likely happen as the 49ers get an opportunity late to put up meaningless points in garbage time.
That brings us to the total in this contest. Early in the game, we can see LA building a lead and approaching the 39 points they rang up against the Niners in San Francisco earlier in the season when they captured a 39-10 victory. But only this time it will be Nick Mullens in the pocket and not C.J. Beathard, who had a lackluster performance against the Rams by tossing one touchdown, two interceptions, and just 170 yards in the lopsided defeat. Mullens, the undrafted rookie out of Southern Mississippi, has had his issues but overall has surpassed any and all expectations after taking the reins of the offense due to injuries and pure serendipity.
Mullens has demonstrated he is an accurate passer, connecting on 63.5 percent of his passes this season, and he has a solid offensive line buying him time against an LA secondary that is middling at best. The 49ers offense will deliver points on Sunday and that, coupled with LA’s four or five trips into the end zone, should see this total go high.