Breakdowns

Monday Night Football Preview: Los Angeles Rams at San Francisco 49ers

Los Angeles Rams at San Francisco 49ers

Here’s a preview of Monday night‘s matchup between the Los Angeles Rams and San Francisco 49ers, courtesy of STAT Stack:

LOS ANGELES RAMS (7-2) AT SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS (3-5), 8:20ET

Line: Rams -3.5, Total: 50.5

ONE THING THAT EVERY FAN NEEDS TO KNOW

Home is Where the Losses Pile Up  

It seems that the theme of STAT Stack this week is homefield advantage … or lack thereof. In this case, when talking about the 49ers, it’s the lack thereof. The 49ers, who played the second half of their home games in Arizona last season and have finally returned to Levi’s Stadium in 2021, are 1-11 in “home games” since the beginning of last season, including 0-4 in Santa Clara this season. The last time San Francisco won a game in which it was considered the home team was over a year ago — October 18 of last year the Niners beat the Rams, 24-16, on Sunday Night Football in Week 6. Since then, they’ve dropped eight straight.

That was also the last home game that Jimmy Garoppolo played in 2020, as he hit injured reserve before the team returned to Arizona. It was arguably his best game of the season, too. Jimmy G completed 23-of-33 passes for 268 yards, three touchdowns, zero interceptions, and zero sacks — it was the only game out of the six he played where he did not take a sack. It was one of just two games last season where the Rams defense did not record at least one sack and the only game where they recorded zero sacks and zero interceptions.

While the Niners have struggled at home, the Rams have been perfect on the road, going 4-0 this season, one of three NFL teams undefeated away from home (Cardinals, Patriots). Their defense has recorded at least two sacks in every game and are averaging more than three sacks per game on the road. They’ve also intercepted at least one pass in every road game, with at least two picks in three out of four.

Garoppolo, who’s thrown zero interceptions and taken one sack in three road games, has been picked off and sacked at least once in every home start this season and has thrown five interceptions and taken 12 sacks in four Levi’s Stadium games. Last week, at home against the Cardinals, Garoppolo was dropped five times, a season-high. With Leonard Floyd (7.5 sacks this season, eighth in the NFL), Aaron Donald (6.0 sacks, tied for 12th) and possibly the LA debut of Von Miller (4.5 sacks with Denver) coming to the Bay Area Monday night, it could be a long night for the 49ers’ signal-caller.

TRENDS THAT EVERY SPORTS BETTOR NEEDS TO KNOW

Home is Where the ATS Losses Pile Up

This will come as no surprise after reading the previous section, but the 49ers are quite a terrible bet at home. You would think that the spread would help even things out a bit, but it really doesn’t. San Francisco has covered just two of its last 14 games at home; the good news, at least as it pertains to this game, is that the team was underdogs in both of those occurrences, just like in this matchup.

The Niners have covered five of their last seven as a home underdog, though they have yet to face that situation in 2021. Although it doesn’t apply to this matchup, it’s worth noting that the 49ers have failed to cover 11 straight games as a home favorite, including losing 10 of those matchups straight-up.

San Francisco has dominated this matchup, though, going 8-3 against-the-spread vs. the Rams since January of 2016. And when the 49ers are home underdogs against the Rams, they are 4-1 ATS during the same stretch and 8-3 ATS since 2001. It seems as though the pro bettors like SF’s track record against the Rams more than their track record at home because despite LA attracting 73% of the bets, 57% of the money — including sharp action — is on the 49ers according to Action Network.

ANALYTICAL ANALYSIS THAT EVERY SPORTS NERD NEEDS TO KNOW

Inside the Redzone = Inside the Endzone

San Francisco has been one of the worst teams in the NFL in terms of turnovers, generating a minus-9 differential that is tied with Jacksonville and Kansas City for the second-worst in the NFL (the Jets are the worst at minus-12). The Niners, Jags and Jets are all tied for the fewest takeaways with five; the other 29 teams all have at least seven. In half of its games this season, San Francisco has failed to turn its opponent over even once, going 1-3 in such contests.

Generally speaking, teams that don’t turn over their opponents struggle to score, as takeaways can often flip the field. Case-in-point, the Jets and Jags both average 18 points or fewer per game and are in the bottom six in the NFL in scoring. But San Francisco averages 23.1 points per game, which is 18th. A big reason for this is the team’s ability to punch the ball in once it gets close. The Niners lead the NFL in percentage of red-zone drives that end in touchdowns at 77.3%. Along with Seattle (75.0%), they are the only teams in the league that scored TDs on at three out of every four red-zone trips. This week, they face the Rams defense, which allows opponents to convert only 51.6% of red-zone trips into touchdowns, the seventh-best mark in the league.

Unfortunately, San Francisco’s defense doesn’t do its part keeping opponents out of the end zone once they reach the red area. The team ranks ninth-worst, allowing 67.9% of red-zone drives to end in touchdowns. Now, they face a Rams offense that is tied with Tampa Bay for most trips to the redzone per game at 4.6 and converts 63.4% of them into at least six points. If the 49ers are going to keep pace in the division with one of the NFC’s favorites, they’re going to need to continue to convert in the red zone on offense, tighten up on red-zone defense and force a couple of turnovers — something Rams QB Matthew Stafford showed he was more than capable of providing in last Sunday’s loss to Tennessee with two interceptions, including a pick-6.