MNF best bets: Are the 49ers still a valuable bet vs. the Rams?
Each Monday, we'll finish off the week that was in the NFL with a look at value spots in the remaining game under one condition: you promise not to chase. Whether Sunday provided a boost to the accounts or left a little to be desired, Monday Night Football provides an opportunity to show responsibility in your betting, as there will always be another wild Sunday to get lost in.
The Cardinals and Seahawks are both 2-2, so we're trying not to count them out when we say that this is the heavyweight tilt of the NFC West. After all, the Rams and 49ers met in three hotly-contested games last season - the last one deciding who would go to the Super Bowl.
While San Francisco didn't win the NFC title game, it did cover as a 3.5-point road 'dog, making the 49ers 3-0 against the spread in games against the Rams last year. In a league that comes down to matchups and scheme as often as it does the talent of the players on the field, are the 49ers still a valuable bet against the Rams?
It wasn't that long ago that we dove into this matchup before the NFC Championship Game, giving you all the reasons that the 49ers - under Kyle Shanahan - have had success against Sean McVay's Rams. Essentially, as long as Jimmy Garoppolo starts, the 49ers have been able to put the Rams' defense in a bind.
On Monday night, San Francisco will be missing star left tackle Trent Williams. However, while alleviating interior pressure created by Aaron Donald is the No. 1 priority against the Rams, Shanahan has been able to do that with scheme even when Williams has missed this matchup in the past. The 49ers' quick passing and trap-blocking counter running game can take some of the pressure off the offensive line, especially with the departure of Von Miller.
Since last year, the Rams have lost some depth on offense, while the 49ers have managed to build up their secondary - particularly at cornerback. This provides them a better chance at giving Cooper Kupp the appropriate attention while also not letting any of the other route-runners find free space too often. At 3.4 yards per carry, the Rams aren't going to threaten San Francisco on the ground, either.
The Garoppolo-Shanahan combo improves to 7-0 in the regular season against the Rams, but we'll pay a little extra to avoid the small chance the game lands San Francisco by one.
Pick: 49ers moneyline (-120)
Cam Akers under 43.5 rushing yards (-115)
The last we saw Akers, he was fumbling short of the goal line in Arizona. The Cardinals weren't able to make the Rams pay, but maybe McVay's faith in Akers is wavering. Darrell Henderson is still in the mix, averaging more yards per carry.
In the NFC title game, Akers averaged 3.7 yards per carry, while the leading rusher in their regular season matchups between the two teams didn't go over this total, either. A potential late-game, negative game script wouldn't give Akers the extra attempts needed to go over, and who knows if he'd be in line for those carries with the Rams in the lead anyway.
Jeff Wilson Jr. over 67.5 rushing + receiving yards (-115)
We found a winner last Monday night by removing the worry about whether a running back was gaining yards via the run or the pass. We'll do the same this week with Wilson. The 49ers may need to keep Kyle Juszczyk and their tight ends in to block more often to help the offensive line, so Wilson could see more targets in the short passing game to go with the carries he'll get as the tailback atop the depth chart.
Matt Russell is a betting writer for theScore. If there’s a bad beat to be had, Matt will find it. Find him on Twitter @mrussauthentic.
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