The San Francisco 49ers travel to St. Louis this evening to take on the Rams in what has shaped up to be a very important early season divisional matchup. Both teams find themselves 1-2 after three weeks and looking up at the Seattle Seahawks. If Seattle wins Sunday in Houston, the loser of tonight’s game will be three games out of the divisional lead. The Niners have never lost three straight games under head coach Jim Harbaugh.
San Francisco enters this game reeling after two defeats by a combined 46 points. The Niners, a typically physical team, have been manhandled over the last two weeks. While some believe that defenses have figured out how to stop QB Colin Kaepernick, the play calling by the Niners has been suspect. San Francisco has gotten away from one of their strengths, the running game. San Francisco is just ranked 19th in rushing offense, averaging 101 yards a game.
On the other side of the ball, the St. Louis Rams need to avoid putting themselves into a hole early. In their last two games, the Rams have been outscored 41-3 in the first half. After losing veteran RB Steven Jackson in free agency, the Rams are struggling to run the ball on offense. Ranked 29th in the league, while averaging just 57 yards per game, St. Louis needs someone to step up and assume the role of running back.
Despite a sub-.500 record last season, the Rams posted a very respectable 4-1-1 divisional record last season. St. Louis beat and tied the Niners in their two games, both going to overtime. Overall, this series is tied 62-62-3 all-time in franchise history.
Tonight, I have to give the nod to the 49ers. This is a proud team and the Rams are allowing opposing offenses to score nearly 30 points a game. Rams QB Sam Bradford was sacked six times last week against the Cowboys. St. Louis had not allowed a sack in the first two games of the regular season.
I look for the Niners to return to their physical style of play with more of a focus on the running game this week.
Vegas Line- San Francisco (-3) at St. Louis 42 points
San Francisco 26 St. Louis 20
NFL offense/defense rankings
offense passing- 23rd- 216 yards per game
offense rushing- 19th- 101 yards per game
defense against the pass- 8th 197 yards per game
defense against the run- 29th 139 yards per game
offense passing-8th 282 yards per game
offense rushing 29th 57 yards per game
defense against the pass- 23- 288 yards per game
defense against the run- 16th 105 yards per game