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Thursday Night Football Preview: L.A. Rams at San Francisco

Thursday Night Football Preview

Los Angeles Rams at San Francisco 49ers
Rams (-2.5), O/U 39.5

So far this season, Thursday Night Football has been difficult to predict. In both games, the road dog has played spoiler. Last week the 6-point underdog Houston Texans with rookie quarterback Deshaun Watson making his first NFL career start, surprised the sputtering Bengals 13-9. There were only two staff writers that picked that Texans last week in our NFL Pick’em staff contest, and it seems the trendy Thursday road dog isn’t catching for week 3.

This week is the 1-1 LA Rams take on the 0-2 San Francisco 49ers in an NFC West divisional battle. Both Franchises are in rebuild mode but have shown flashes of potential in 2017. Both teams have first-year head coaches: Sean McVay for the Rams and Kyle Shanahan for the 49ers. With the Vegas over/under line under 40 points, many people may feel this game could be slow and boring, but both young teams are desperate to make a strong prime-time impression and could put together an entertaining contest.

Los Angeles Rams

Thursday Night Football Preview

Jared GoffThe Rams started off fast beating a sad Indianapolis Colts team in week one but suffered a tough loss at home to the Washington Redskins in week two. Cooper Kupp has been the leader in targets so far. The numbers have not been fantastic, just twelve targets over two games but he is developing a good connection with quarterback Jared Goff. Kupp is somewhere in Flex range as is in the mid-twenties among fantasy receivers. Running Back Todd Gurley is second on the team in targets. Gurley has 128 yards rushing and 104 yards receiving. He also has three touchdowns so far. Gurley is currently third among fantasy running backs.

Gurley’s resurgence has helped give some stability to this offense. It has allowed Goff to play with less pressure and throw underneath routes. Kupp has been a great route runner, and it has helped Goff. The Rams defense has also improved. Los Angeles is third in fantasy points and has only given up 36 points (12th in the league). Six sacks puts the Rams ninth in the NFL.

This is a decent team that is hoping to play defensive football and not turn the ball over. The Rams have a complete zero turnover ratio.

San Francisco 49ers

Thursday Night Football Preview

The 49ers have a negative turnover ratio and a 0-2 start. Worse off, the 49ers have not scored a touchdown yet. San Francisco is setting all their offensive hopes on Carlos Hyde. Hyde is around twelfth among fantasy running backs, but the biggest problem is he has not scored any touchdowns. San Francisco did not score any touchdowns in a tough 12-9 loss in Seattle last week. Just a week earlier, the 49ers lost 23-3. Hyde has been second in targets and has a total of 220 yards from scrimmage.

Pierre Garcon leads the team in targets. He has not been able to turn this in man yards though. Fifteen targets have become just nine catches and 107 yards. Marquise Goodwin is tied with Carlos Hyde with 12 targets. Goodwin has caught just 50% of those targets for 47 yards and no touchdowns. The biggest problem is Brian Hoyer. Hoyer has not thrown for as many yards in two games as Goff had at the end of Week 1.

San Francisco has a decent defense, but there has not been a pass rush. Only three teams have fewer sacks than the Niners. This defense is not strong enough to overcome this offense.

The Game

San Francisco has only scored 12 points over two weeks. It is hard to imagine the Niners will outscore the Rams in this contest. The Niners do not have enough offensive firepower to stay with the Rams. Los Angeles is not a juggernaut, but they have enough to win and the better defense on top of that. It will most likely be something like a 17-6 game, but 24-6 is not out of the range of reality. Also, for what it is worth, this is the second straight week the Thursday Night Football Over/Under is ridiculous at 39.5.

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