San Francisco (4-0; 3-1 ATS) at L.A. Rams (3-2; 4-1 ATS)
Early line: Rams (minus-3.5 points). Total: (49)
SF 4TH OFF; LAR 13TH DEF
SF 1ST RUN; LAR 15TH vs. RUN
SF 22ND PASS; LAR 16TH vs. PASS
SF 2ND PTS; LAR 26TH PTS ALLOWED
LAR 5TH OFF; SF 2ND DEF
LAR 22ND RUN; SF 5TH vs. RUN
LAR 2ND PASS; SF 2ND vs. PASS
LAR 6TH PTS; SF 4TH PTS ALLOWED
SF T7TH TO/TA; LAR T24TH TO-TA
Niners lead all-time series 69-67-3, but Rams have won 3 of last 4 games in series, including series sweep in 2018. In Week 7 last season at SF, Rams beat Niners 39-10, outgaining SF 339-228 with defense registering 7 sacks and 4 takeaways. In Week 17 last season at LA, Rams outscored SF 48-32 with RB C.J. Anderson starring on offense (23-132-1), and LB Cory Littleton (2 INTs, including one returned for TD) starring on defense in a game in which SF outgained Rams 391-377.
Undefeated NINERS are the league’s biggest surprise, off to their best start in nearly 30 years following dominating 31-3 home win over Browns in Week 5 Monday-nighter.
Entering Week 6, NINERS have league’s top-ranked rushing attack (200.1 ypg) and are ranked second in points scored (31.8 ppg), total defense (257.5 ypg) and pass defense (175.8 ypg).
RB Matt Breida ran 83 yards for a TD on NINERS’ first play from scrimmage in Week 5, and RB Tevin Coleman added a 19-yard score as part of an overpowering ground game on a day when QB Jimmy Garoppolo passed for 181 yards and normally very reliable PK Robbie Gould missed a pair of FG attempts and had a third try blocked.
Breida and Coleman combined for 211 rushing yards, as NINERS outgained Cleveland 275-102 on the ground. That took pressure off Garoppolo, who passed for two touchdowns and completed 20 of 29 throws.
TE George Kittle led NINERS’ receivers in Week 5 win with 6-70-1 receiving on 8 targets with a long of 22 (TD).
Coming off a bye with 2 weeks to prepare, NINERS defense limited Browns to only 180 total yards and 1-of-11 3rd downs, forced 4 turnovers and registered 4 sacks in Week 5 win.
NINERS’ Week 5 defensive stars first-round rookie DLE Nick Bosa, who had 2 sacks, a FF, a FR, 5 hurries and 4 tackles; and CB Richard Sherman, who had an INT, 2 PBs and 4 tackles.
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In NINERS’ Week 7 loss to Rams last season, QB C.J. Beathard had 15-27-170-1 TD-2 INTs (56.1 QB rating) and a lost fumble; Kittle had 5-98-1 receiving on 8 targets with a long of 35; RB Raheem Mostert had 7-59 rushing with a long of 16 and 4-19 receiving on 4 targets with a long of 23; and DE Arik Armstead had a sack, 3 hurries and 5 tackles.
In NINERS’ Week 17 loss to Rams last season, QB Nick Mullens had 23-33-282-3 TDs-3 INTs (88.2 QB rating); RB Alfred Morris (signed and later released by Cowboys) had 16-111-1 rushing; and Kittle had 9-149-1 receiving on 14 targets and a long of 43 (TD);
If ultra reliable PK Greg Zuerlein had come through on 44-yard FG attempt with 11 seconds to play in Week Five 30-29 Thursday-night road loss at Seattle, RAMS would have had a long weekend to enjoy a bounce-back victory and a 4-1 start despite a multitude of issues.
Instead, Zuerlein barely missed it wide right, leaving RAMS with three days off to think about falling to 3-2 and into third place in the NFC West with only their second losing streak during head coach Sean McVay’s tenure.
RAMS aren’t publicly worried about the long-term prognosis for their season, but the short-term status of stud RB Todd Gurley (thigh, check status) could be more problematic after consecutive losses to the Bucs and Seahawks provided an early reality check the Rams never received last year while starting 8-0.
RAMS responded to their first 2-game skid under McVay late last year by winning 4 consecutive games, including 2 playoff contests, to reach the Super Bowl. Their relatively favorable upcoming schedule suggests they could reel off something similar — yet these Rams just haven’t been as good as last season’s team, even if they probably did enough to win in Seattle.
RAMS offense gained 477 total yards but had two turnovers (an INT and a lost fumble), converted only 3-of-11 3rd downs and managed only 18-82 on ground in Week 5 loss.
RAMS defense that lost LB Clay Matthews late (broken jaw) allowed Seahawks 429 total yards and registered just one sack and one takeaway in Week 5 loss.
RAMS QB Jared Goff had 29-49-395-1 TD-1 INT (83.3 QB rating) in Week 5 loss.
RB Todd Gurley, who has just one 100-yard rushing performance in RAMS’ last 10 games — none this season — after doing it 9 times in LA’s previous 15 games, ran effectively early against the Seahawks, but his 51-yard, 2-TD effort on 15 carries was no difference-maker.
RAMS TE Gerald Everett had the type of performance expected from a second-round pick in Week 5, making seven catches for a career-high 136 yards, while WR Cooper Kupp continued to excel with 9-117-1 on 17 targets with a long of 26.
RAMS’ O-line appeared to improve a bit in Week 5, keeping Goff upright without a sack and clearing space in the rushing game for 4.6 ypc when McVay opted to use it. The line also was called for just two penalties — both on its veteran tackles, not the youngsters — in noisy Seattle after struggling with discipline in September.
Undrafted rookie Troy Reeder made the most of a chance to start at MLB in place of injured Bryce Hager (check status) in Week 5, leading RAMS defense with 13 tackles.
RAMS defense will miss Matthews, who had 6 sacks in his first 5 games for his hometown team. The veteran LB got the only sack by either team in Seattle, but he is out for 4-6 weeks after Seahawks RB Chris Carson’s foot accidentally broke his jaw with 3:20 left.
Samson Ebukam will take Matthews’ place in RAMS’ starting lineup, while Dante Fowler will be counted on to increase his pass-rushing acumen.
Zuerlein has been one of the NFL’s most reliable PKs ever since RAMS moved home to LA, but he has missed 3 FGs inside 50 yards this season — including Week 5 game-decider — after missing just 4 from inside 50 in the Rams’ previous 3 LA seasons combined.
In addition to Hager, check status of RAMS WR Brandin Cooks, is going through the concussion protocol after Week 5 head-knocker.
In RAMS’ Week 7 win over Niners last season, Goff had 18-24-202-2 TDs-0 INTs (127.4 QB rating); Gurley had 15-63-2 rushing with a long of 18 and 4-23-1 receiving on 5 targets with a long of 12 (TD); RB Malcolm Brown had 13-65 rushing with a long of 10, WR Robert Woods had 5-78 receiving on 7 targets with a long of 32; Cooks had 4-64-1 receiving on 5 targets with a long of 23; DT Aaron Donald had 4 sacks, a FF, a FR, 5 hurries and 9 tackles; and LB Cory Littleton had 2 sacks and a team-high 10 tackles.
Other noteworthy performers besides Anderson and Littleton in RAMS’ Week 17 win over Niners last season were: Goff, who had 15-26-4 TDs-0 INTs (121.6 QB rating); who had 5-62-2 receiving on 9 targets with a long of 21; WR Josh Reynolds, who had 4-55-2 receiving on 7 targets with a long of 29 (TD); and Donald, who had a sack, 3 hurries and 4 tackles.