The St. Louis Rams have won four-straight divisional home games under Jeff Fisher including a 16-13 win over San Francisco in Week 13, 2012
The San Francisco 49ers looked ready to pick up where last season left off when they hosted the Green Bay Packers in Week 1 but the streetcar came off the tracks in Seattle and home field did little to restore any faith last week against the Colts. In Week 3 the Niners are back in the public betting spotlight as they travel to St. Louis for a primetime divisional tilt.
Sportsbook odds opened at Niners -3 and O/U 44 but injury concerns and the fact this is a short week chopped the total down to 42. One online betting shop (Sports Interaction) is tempting under bettors with a 42.5 but after crunching the numbers we came up with a prediction for the first-half total.
WEEK 4 PICKS – THURSDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL
Trips to the Northwest seldom produce wins since Pete Carroll took over in Seattle and when home won’t help, coach Jim Harbaugh’s next best thing is usually a visit to the great Midwest. The Niners were 5-2 SU/ATS last season in regular season games east of the Pacific Time zone and they only allowed 5.9 first-half points per game.
[quote_text color=”#000000″ text_color=”#ffffff”]Only one Niners road game east of the Bay saw greater than 20 points scored through the first 30 minutes in 2012 and it was against the high-flying Saints in Week 12. The other six games finished with a total of just 16.2 first-half points.[/quote_text]
The Rams allowed 136 rushing yards per game (RYPG) at home in 2012 and that was the fourth-most in the league. San Francisco rushed for 90 yards on 34 carries against Green Bay (2.6 RYPC), 100 on 20 carries against the stout Seattle D (5.0 RYPC) and then 115 vs. Indy on 23 carries (5.0 RYPC). The difference in the three games is that the Niners were trailing the past two weeks right from the get-go.
St. Louis is not a fast-start team under HC Fisher and at home, they are only scoring 3.3 PPG in the first quarter since the start of 2012 and 8.4 average first-half points. In three games this season the Rams have failed to score a single point in the first 15 minutes and their second quarter points against the Cards, Falcons and Cowboys went 10-3-0.
TE Vernon Davis (hamstring) is questionable and whether he starts or not, Harbaugh wants to stay committed to the run. Since taking over the team in 2011 the Niners have averaged 29.6 carries per game away from home and that number stays fairly consistent against divisional foes (28.9 RAPG). Expect RB Frank Gore to get at least 20 touches as the Niners try to wear down the Rams defense and look for spots to utilize WR Anquan Boldin.
With LB Patrick Willis (leg) doubtful and LB Aldon Smith away from the team for rehab, the Rams have an opportunity to get more going from their ground game and that will help keep QB Sam Bradford off the carpet. It could also benefit time of possession and try to reduce the 17.0 first-half points St. Louis is allowing through Week 3. Note that in 2012 the Rams gave up just 11.8 first-half PPG, tying the league average.
Our Thursday night play to get the week started is on the Niners and Rams to stay UNDER 21 points in the first-half.