The third week of the NFL seaosn kicks off in San Francisco where the 49ers are looking to avoid an 0-3 start. Neil Monnery brings you his preview for Thursday Night Football...
"An 0-2 start is never a sign that your team is any good. When you couple that with through eight quarters of football, all you have to show for your efforts is four field goals, you can see why things aren't looking too rosy in the bay area."
Los Angeles Rams @ San Francisco 49ers
Start-time: Friday 22 September, 01:25 BST
TV: Live on Sky Sports Action & Main Event
For the Rams...
The starting point has to be at Quarterback where their former number one overall pick Jared Goff has seen a marked improvement in his play. Even though he's only thrown for two scores, that has come at the price of only one interception. That key pick though at the end of Sunday's 27-20 defeat to Washington was a terrible read as he stared down his receiver. This has to be avoided in the future.
Goff is unlikely to win you a game just yet but he's certainly moving away from being liable to lose you one. One key cog he needs to work on is getting on the same page as Sammy Watkins. The wide receiver came over in a trade with the Bills and he should be the deep threat. Seven catches through two games is not enough.
New head coach Sean McVay spoke in the week about getting Tavon Austin more involved in the offense. The former first round pick is the most dynamic player on the roster. Expect the play calling to see more ways of getting the ball in his hands. Todd Gurley will continue to be a workhorse in the back field and will be a good check down option in the passing game.
Defensively, Aaron Donald is a huge talent and a player the opposition must plan for. The tackle was rusty last week but expect him to be up to full speed on Thursday night. I foresee lots of pressure on 49ers QB Brian Hoyer all night long.
For the 49ers...
An 0-2 start is never a good sign for any team. Eight quarters of football have produced just four field goals, and things aren't looking too rosy in the Bay area.
One of the main reasons is the NFL is now a QB-driven league. If you don't have at least a serviceable player in that position, you are not going to go far. The longest passing play in their two games so far was for only 22 yards. That is not going to get it done.
Carlos Hyde is the lone bright spot for this offense. He scampered for 124 yards on 15 rushes for a very impressive 8.3 yd/carry against the vaunted Seahawks D on Sunday. The 27-year-old looks in excellent shape and if the 49ers are going to avoid losing three straight, their number one running back will be the reason.
Defensively, they held Seattle to just 12 points on Sunday, which is a good effort. They've also forced four fumbles so far this season. The line is getting penetration and causing issues for opposition skill players.
I like the Rams to go on the road and beat the 49ers. They are 2.5pt favourites and I would expect them to cover. My thought process is I just don't see the home side scoring much, so all LA have to do is get in the end zone twice to go along with a field goal or two and that should be more than enough. You can currently get LA-3 at an Even [2.0] on the Exchange.
Points wise this is under all the way. The line is set at 39.5. I see this as a 17-13, 20-10 type of game. Both defenses will be on top for large swathes of this encounter. At the time of writing you can get under 38pts at [2.08] on the Exchange.
In my side market play this week, I'm going with Sammy Watkins to score the first TD. With some injuries in the 49ers secondary, this is the ideal spot for him to get more involved in the offense on big plays down the field. At [13.0], he's slightly under-valued.
3pt Back LA Rams-3 to win on the handicap market at [2.0] on the Exchange
2pt Back under 38.0pts at [2.08] on the Exchange
1pt Back Sammy Watkins to score first at [13.0] on the Exchange