San Francisco 49ers
(5-9, 5-9 ATS)
St. Louis Rams
(6-8, 9-5 ATS)
The race to seven wins is on in the NFC West. The St. Louis Rams can get there with a ‘W’ in NFL betting action this weekend, and they probably need to beat the San Francisco 49ers in this de facto elimination duel to stay in the playoff chase.
San Fran doesn’t quite control its own destiny for the playoffs, as it knows that the Seattle Seahawks still need to lose once more for it to gain control, but it does know that a loss is fatal and would end its season, and likely cost Head Coach Mike Singletary his job. A win would mean that the only two things that need to happen to get the Niners in the tournament would be a loss by the Seahawks somewhere along the way and a win next week against the Arizona Cardinals. In order to pull this off, Singletary is electing to go back to QB Troy Smith to lead the way. Smith gave the team a shot in the arm when original starter, QB Alex Smith was injured. The former Ohio State Buckeye put up some decent numbers, throwing for 1,023 yards and four scores, but he clearly didn’t have the “wow factor” that can win the Super Bowl. There is a question as to whether Smith will have RB Anthony Dixon to work with or not. The back out of Mississippi State has a sprained ankle, and if he can’t go, it will be up to RB Brian Westbrook to carry virtually 100% of the load.
The Rams know that the chance of the 49ers losing next week are slim to none, so if they want to get into the playoffs, they have to get to eight wins and beat both San Fran this week and the Seattle Seahawks at Qwest Field next week. Either way, there is absolutely nothing for these guys to hang their heads about. The Rams have already lost ten players to the IR this year, and they have come back from a season in which they went just 1-15 to challenge for a division title and a playoff berth. St. Louis really has a star in the making under center in the form of QB Sam Bradford. The former Oklahoma Sooner is very likely the league’s Offensive Rookie of the Year. He has 3,065 yards and 17 TDs through the air, and though he is going through some growing pains with 14 picks, we know that those numbers are going to improve in the years to come. Though the ‘D’ has slacked off just a bit in recent weeks, this unit has improved dramatically from last year as well. Allowing 21.1 points per game is a middle of the road number, and when you were right in the gutter last year, taking the stride to a middle of the herd team is a great improvement.
Though this is a do or die game for sure for the 49ers, we are absolutely certain that they are going to find a way to blow this. St. Louis is good enough to win this game, and it will do so in the regular season home finale, setting up a de facto postseason play in game against the Seahawks next week at Qwest Field.
Week 16 Free Pick: St. Louis Rams -1.5