A few years ago, the NFL decided to add a second Monday Night Football game in Week 1 to see what the ratings would be like for a 10:15 p.m. ET start. And it turns out they were quite good, especially on the West Coast, which never gets games starting in prime time. The late Monday night game this year is an NFC West showdown between the Rams — in their first game back with Los Angeles in their name — against the San Francisco 49ers. The 49ers are expected play their best and an indication of that is that they are home underdogs in the NFL odds for this match.
How To Bet on LA Rams at San Francisco Week 1 Free Pick, Odds & TV Info
When: Monday, Sept. 12, 10:15 PM ET
Where: Levi’s Stadium, Santa Clara, Calif.
Radio: Los Angeles / San Francisco
Opening NFL Lines: Rams -2 (46)
Why Bet on Los Angeles?
The Rams almost had a disaster early in training camp as No. 1 receiver Tavon Austin was carted off the field with a leg/ankle injury. Austin averaged 62.2 total yards per game with eight touchdowns in Todd Gurley’s 12 weeks as the Rams’ lead back last season, versus 40.3 yards with one score in Los Angeles’ other four games. Coach Jeff Fisher has suggested Austin could catch 100 passes this season. But the injury wasn’t serious and was just a cramp.
We still don’t know who will start Week 1 for the Rams after they made a huge trade with Tennessee to get the No. 1 overall pick in the 2016 draft and take Cal QB Jared Goff. Over the opening days of training camp, it has been Case Keenum running the first-team offense, with Goff being given time to get acclimated. Keenum closed last season as the starter, replacing an ineffective Nick Foles.
“When I’m at quarterback, I’m running the show,” Keenum said. “It’s my huddle, it’s my squad, it’s my offense and I am taking ownership of it.”
The Rams also are moving one of their best defensive players, Alec Ogletree, from outside linebacker to the middle to replace James Laurinaitis, the leading tackler in team history who was cut this offseason.
“It’s been seamless,” Fisher said. “He really has a great understanding of the defense. He’s making all the calls and taking on that leadership role over. He’s off to a great start.”
The 6-foot- 2, 245-pound Ogletree is beginning his fourth season with the Rams. He has started all 36 games he’s appeared in. He led the team in tackles his first two seasons, but saw 2015 end at four games with a season-ending ankle injury.
Why Bet on San Francisco?
The Niners will be going for a two-game winning streak over the Rams. They beat the visiting Rams 19- 16 in overtime in Week 17 last season. Phil Dawson kicked a 23-yard field goal 11:33 into overtime for his fourth of the game. Blaine Gabbert passed for 354 yards and a 33-yard touchdown to Anquan Boldin for the 49ers. Boldin is gone now. Keenum went 22 of 37 for 231 yards.
The Niners are going to stink on offense this year but should be OK on defense and they locked up the best member of that unit, linebacker NaVorro Bowman, to a long-term extension this week. The deal keeps the 28-year old in the Bay Area through the 2022 season. The 49ers anticipate that the deal will ensure Bowman finishes his career in San Francisco red and gold. Bowman bounced back from a devastating knee to record a career-high 154 tackles last season for the 49ers. When healthy, Bowman has been one of the more dominant defensive players in the league. His 2013 season before the knee injury in Seattle was perhaps his best as a pro as he earned a third straight first-team All-Pro award.
The 49ers under new coach Chip Kelly have a number of new faces, including veteran offensive guard Zane Beadles. The experienced lineman who put in six combined NFL seasons with the Broncos and Jaguars looks to solidify his role in San Francisco this season. Beadles is focusing on the left side of the line, working the first-team guard spot between left tackle Joe Staley and center Daniel Kilgore.
Finally, Kelly doesn’t know if he’ll start QB Colin Kaepernick or Gabbert when the season begins. He’s not going to make that decision during camp, either. Instead, he’ll wait for the preseason to play out and decide after it shows him what he needs to see. I project it will be Gabbert.
My Free Pick
If Goff is starting Week 1, I’d lean 49ers on NFL odds. If it’s Keenum, go Rams.