Rams vs. San Francisco 49ers: NFL betting odds, lines and picks

Los Angeles Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford (9) in action during the second half.
Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford looks to hand off during a win over the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday.
(Nick Wass / Associated Press)

The Rams have a big game in Week 18. This team has answered challenges recently against playoff-caliber teams and needs to do the same here to go into the playoffs on a high note. Furthermore, a win could pave the way for what appears to be an easier opponent in the wild-card round.

It is not a must-win game for the Rams, as they’ll head to the postseason regardless, but a win shuts the door in the faces of the Arizona Cardinals in the NFC West race and could potentially keep the San Francisco 49ers out of the playoffs. It could also give the Rams a date with the New Orleans Saints at SoFi Stadium next week. The Rams cannot play the 49ers again next week. The opponent will either be the Saints or the Philadelphia Eagles.

With a division crown on the line, along with the chance to play spoiler against a divisional opponent and even set up a better first-round matchup, the Rams have a lot at stake.

San Francisco 49ers at Rams (-4½, 44½), 1:25 p.m. PST Sunday, FOX

Of course, the Rams don’t have nearly as much at stake as the 49ers. It is not a true “must-win situation” by definition, given that a Saints loss to the Falcons would still put the 49ers in the playoffs regardless, but head coach Kyle Shanahan isn’t going to let his players have those thoughts. San Francisco has control of its own destiny because an upset means a guaranteed spot in the playoffs.

That means that the Rams will face a very formidable, very motivated bunch in the regular-season finale. The Cardinals might not, as the Seahawks are playing out the string and look to be in line for some big changes this offseason. The Rams clearly have the tougher of the two games this weekend, but these types of games are important indicators because of the quality opponents that lie ahead.


Give the Rams credit. I, and many others, questioned them during a three-game losing streak against the Titans, 49ers and Packers. However, they have answered the bell with strong efforts against Arizona and the recent back-to-back road wins over Minnesota and Baltimore.

That first meeting against San Francisco does appear to be cause for concern. The Rams lost by 21 points and managed only 5.1 yards per play, which amounts to a full yard per play lower than their season average going into Week 18. Matthew Stafford threw two picks in what was the team’s first full game without Robert Woods.

Rams Jalen Ramsey and Taylor Rapp did have an argument on the field against Baltimore last week, but they’ve mended fences and moved on to 49ers game.

Jan. 6, 2022

Stafford continues to be under the microscope, as his Jekyll-and-Hyde performances are making waves. Stafford threw an egregious pick-six last week against the Ravens before going 14-of-14 in the second half for 162 yards and a touchdown. He has a 21-3 touchdown-to-interception ratio in the second halves of games this season and a league-leading 120 quarterback rating.

As concerning as Stafford can be at times, the quarterback situation for the Rams pales in comparison to what the 49ers are dealing with, as Jimmy Garoppolo tries to play through a torn UCL in his thumb. Trey Lance was good enough last week against the outmanned Texans, but this would be a different beast if called into action.

San Francisco’s most recent losses to the Seahawks and Titans came in games in which the 49ers’ offense had 6.5 and 6.7 yards per play, while their opponents had 4.8 yards per play. From a box score standpoint, those were dominating performances that fell victim to some negative variance. This is the best 8-7 football team in the league and the advanced metrics and the traditional stats are all supportive of that notion.

The Times’ Sam Farmer analyzes each matchup and predicts the winners of Week 18 of the 2021 NFL season.

Jan. 6, 2022


When these teams played on “Monday Night Football” in Week 10, the Rams were -3.5 on the road. Now that they’re at home, the line opened -6 and has been bet down to -4.5. The sharp money early in the week to drive this line down is a pretty telling indicator of how bettors view the 49ers, but I’m not sure it is an indictment of the Rams.

In a game that I expect to be close, I cannot argue with taking the points. The 31-10 result in the first meeting feels like an outlier. This should be a competitive, physical, hard-fought game and one where both teams have a lot of incentive. I’d pick the Rams to win straight up, but San Francisco to cover the spread.

Pick: 49ers +4.5

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