Los Angeles Rams wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. (3) celebrates his touchdown catch with Cooper Kupp during the second half of an NFL football game against the Jacksonville Jaguars Sunday, Dec. 5, 2021, in Inglewood, Calif. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
- NFC West rivals clash with much at stake in Week 18, as the 49ers visit the Rams
- Betting Record: 0-1 ML; 6-6 ATS; 2-2 O/U; -0.98 units
- Read below for odds, analysis and a betting prediction
The Los Angeles Rams have multiple motivations in their finale when they host the San Francisco 49ers.
A win would clinch the NFC West division title, while also putting an end to an anomaly of a losing streak to their rivals and eliminating them from playoff contention.
For the 49ers, it’s singular: win to get in.
It makes for one of the better matchups to watch in the NFL’s first-ever Week 18 slate.
The home team is a 4.5-point favorite when they kick-off Sunday at 4:25pm ET from SoFi Stadium. The game can be seen live on FOX.
Just a reminder: as you’re making your NFL picks all weekend, be sure to find out what NFL teams are resting starters in Week 18.
49ers vs Rams Odds
|San Francisco 49ers||+4.5 (-110)||+170||O 44.5 (-110)|
|Los Angeles Rams||-4.5 (-110)||-200||U 44.5 (-110)|
Odds as of Jan 8 at DraftKings
San Francisco 49ers Outlook
In the biggest game of their season, San Francisco still hasn’t named their starter at quarterback.
Part of it is likely because they’re not convinced Jimmy Garoppolo can throw effectively after tearing a ligament in his right thumb (his throwing hand) in a Dec 23 loss to the Titans.
Will it be Jimmy G or Trey Lance in a critical game for the Niners? 🤔 pic.twitter.com/v9LjoKDi4l
— Good Morning Football (@gmfb) January 8, 2022
The other part is Kyle Shanahan likely wants to keep a scary-good Rams’ defense guessing for as long as possible.
If Jimmy G can’t go, then it will be up to rookie Trey Lance to take the reigns. He filled in nicely in last week’s 23-7 win over the Houston Texans. Lance was 16-for-23 for 249 yards and a pair of TD passes against one interception.
That win extended the 49ers’ late-season run to six wins in their last eight games, going 6-2 ATS as well. They’ve averaged 26.9 points, breaking the 30-point plateau four times, while surrendering just 17.4 points per game.
— Coach Yac 🗣 (@Coach_Yac) January 2, 2022
San Francisco’s defense, which is tied for seventh in the NFL in sacks and surrenders just 206.8 passing yards per game (5th), will be challenged in this one.
The Niners could have up to five defensive backs out with COVID, including regulars Dontae Johnson, K’Waun Williams, and Jimmie Ward. Not the best scenario when having to deal with red-hot Odell Beckham Jr and NFL triple-crown receiving leader Cooper Kupp.
Los Angeles Rams Outlook
After an 0-3 November, Los Angeles may be peaking at just the right moment, winning five straight and controling their destiny in claiming the division crown.
The latest was a come-from-behind 20-19 win on the road against the Ravens. Matthew Stafford shook off a three-INT performance — including another pick-6 — and led the team to victory. He connected with OBJ for the game-winning score with 57 seconds left.
ODELL BECKHAM JR.
Rams take the lead!
— NFL (@NFL) January 2, 2022
Beckham’s receiving totals aren’t gaudy since being released by Cleveland. In seven games, he has 25 catches and five games sub-40 yards receiving. However, he has five TD grabs in his last six contests, making defenses pay for rolling coverage over to Kupp.
Kupp will be chasing history, even if he admitted it deserves an asterisk for a 17-game total. He needs 11 grabs to top Michael Thomas’ record 149 receptions, and 135 yards to pass Calvin Johnson’s 1,964-yard mark.
Jimmie Ward returns his second pick of the game for a TD 🔥 pic.twitter.com/p0GzHIf2cq
— 49ers on NBCS (@NBCS49ers) November 16, 2021
It won’t be easy: San Francisco has dominated this head-to-head, reeling off five straight against the Rams, including a 31-10 drubbing in Week 10 — LA’s lowest scoring output all season.
Stafford was picked twice, while the run game totaled just 10 carries for 52 yards.
That may change Sunday as Sony Michel has restored a rushing game to help the passing attack. He’s run for 497 yards the last five games with three touchdowns.
49ers vs Rams Pick
San Fran may have issues at QB, but it’s hard to trust Stafford to take care of business against a stout 49ers defense, even if they are dinged up in the secondary.
While I think the Rams win this one, the spread is just enough to push me to the total. LA’s is fifth in defensive DVOA and has surrendered just 16.4 points across their winning streak.
San Francisco’s last four games have gone under, while the Rams have gone under in 16 of their last 21 at home. The last three meetings between these two teams has also gone under.
Pick: UNDER 44.5 (1.5 units to win 1.31 units)
Having worked in and around sports since 1997, Eric is truly a knowledgeable expert. The two-time journalism grad specializes in all things NBA and NFL. From TSN.ca to CTV’s Olympic Broadcast Consortium, Eric’s work has appeared in local and national publications alike.