49ers vs. Rams NFL Week 18 Preview and Best Bet

profile image of scottkacsmar
063_1362838096-1-aspect-ratio-16-9
Quarterback Matthew Stafford #9 of the Los Angeles Rams. Rob Carr/Getty Images/AFP

The Los Angeles Rams (12-4) can clinch the NFC West with a win over the San Francisco 49ers (9-7). But San Francisco is also playing for a wild card spot and already has one decisive win over the Rams this season. Below, we’ll take a look at the early NFL odds.

San Francisco 49ers vs. Los Angeles Rams

Sunday, January 9, 2022 – 04:25 PM EST at SoFi Stadium

The Rams (8-8 ATS) are a 4-point favorite over the 49ers (8-8 ATS) at many of BMR’s top-rated sportsbooks. San Francisco coach Kyle Shanahan is 6-3 (ATS and SU) against Los Angeles coach Sean McVay since both started their jobs in 2017. But the 49ers may be going with rookie quarterback Trey Lance in their biggest game since Super Bowl LIV.

Week 10 Recap: 49ers 31, Rams 10

When these teams met on Monday Night Football in Week 10, the Rams were coming off a humbling loss to the Titans. The 49ers were a bit of an afterthought at 3-5, but a big performance would push them towards a 6-2 run that has them in a position to return to the playoffs.

In Week 10, the Rams were playing their first game with newly acquired wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. following Robert Woods’ torn ACL. Woods is one of the best security blankets in this offense, and his presence as a blocker was also missed. Matthew Stafford tried to force a deep ball to Beckham on the fourth play of the game and it was intercepted.

The Rams embarked on an 18-play, 93-yard touchdown drive. Stafford then had a pass go off Tyler Higbee’s hands to a defender for a pick-six and the Rams quickly trailed 14-0. San Francisco’s offense second and only other real possession of the first half was also a long 91-yard touchdown drive. Halves like that almost never happen in the NFL.

The 49ers were less successful in the second half, but Deebo Samuel did show off his YAC ability on a 40-yard touchdown on a fourth down. He also rushed for a touchdown as that is something the 49ers have really leaned on in the second half of the season.

In the end, the 49ers won 31-10 in an impressive fashion. It remains the only game this season where the Rams had fewer than 332 yards of offense. They had just 278 yards as the running game was absent with the early deficit forcing Stafford to play catch up the rest of the way.

Jimmy Garoppolo only had to throw 19 passes, but he completed 15 of them for 182 yards. The 49ers also rushed for 156 yards, one of the best games against a stingy Los Angeles run defense.

Eyes on the Quarterbacks

This is a big matchup with plenty on the line for both teams and both quarterbacks. Stafford could log a fourth win over a team with a winning record this season after coming into 2021 with an 8-68 career record against winning teams. This would guarantee a home playoff game for the Rams.

Garoppolo could lead the 49ers back to the playoffs, but there is no guarantee he sees the field again in a San Francisco uniform thanks to a torn ligament in his throwing thumb. Garoppolo is 5-0 as a starter against the Rams and his experience would pay off against a defense with elite veterans (Aaron Donald, Jalen Ramsey, and Von Miller) who can change games with one play.

This would be a tough spot for the rookie Lance, who had a rough first half against the lowly Texans last week before a good finish.

While the Rams also lost to Green Bay, they have won five in a row coming into this game. Stafford had to shake off three turnovers in Baltimore to lead his fourth game-winning drive of the season on Sunday.

In the last eight games, his numbers have regressed to more of what we are used to seeing from him in Detroit. He’s thrown 16 touchdowns to 11 interceptions with 7.33 yards per attempt, and a 90.1 passer rating.

In the first eight games this season, Stafford was a leading MVP candidate with 22 touchdowns, four interceptions, 9.07 yards per attempt, and a 118.0 passer rating. Stafford had some bad luck with the drop turning into a pick-six against the 49ers last time, but he has been more reckless with the ball in the second half of the season.

But the Rams are getting Cam Akers back at running back, and Cooper Kupp has been so unstoppable he could get to 2,000 receiving yards. Kupp already has set an NFL record with 12 straight games of 90-plus receiving yards.

Prediction

Five of the Rams’ seven best games on defense this season are the last five games. Stafford has 15 interceptions and five fumbles this season, and 16 of those 20 plays have come on the road. I think Stafford plays better at home this week and the Rams continue their defensive surge to win the NFC West. Take the Rams to cover for your NFL picks.

NFL Pick: Rams -4 (-120) with Bovada (visit our Bovada Review)

Bovada logo
Rams -4 (-120)
Visit Site

*The line and/or odds on picks in this article might have moved since the content was commissioned. For updated line movements, visit BMR’s free betting odds product.