Pudge’s Picks – Thursday Night Week 4
What a disappointing bunch of picks from last week. I went 6-10 against the spread and 8-8 in straight picks last week. What can I say besides the obvious? This has not been my year so far. Despite a solid opening week, I have just missed the mark in each of the past two weeks. Last week’s results bring my season totals to 24-24 against the spread and 33-15 straight up.
I’m blaming several upsets for my poor picking last week with surprise wins from teams like the Colts, Browns, and Panthers over the 49ers, Vikings, and Giants, respectively. And it’s going to definitely affect how I pick the rest of the Week 4 games on Saturday. Several of those winners I might have underestimated, but more so I believe I overestimated some of those losers. One of those losing teams will be playing tonight.
San Francisco 49ers (1-2) at St. Louis Rams (1-2)
Thursday, September 26 at 8:25 pm ET on NFL Network
Line: Rams (+3.5)
The 49ers offense has struggled in the past two weeks, scoring a combined 10 points after reeling off 34 in the opening week against the Green Bay Packers. Colin Kaepernick has not looked good the past two weeks and his lack of weapons is starting to show. Aldon Smith is going to miss this week’s game (and likely several more) as he ventures into rehab.
The positive for the 49ers is that the Rams defense hasn’t played up to their expected standard in the first three weeks, giving up 31 points in the past two games against Atlanta and Dallas. They gave up 24 to the Falcons in the first half, and 17 to Dallas in the first half. Their offense has been stagnant to start games, as they have yet to score a point in the first quarter this season.
As I said a week ago, the conventional wisdom has always been to take the home team on the short week. That proved to be true in Week 1, where the Broncos easily covered their 8.5-point home spread. But the road team has prevailed in each of the past two weeks. And with 49ers having their backs to the wall this week, it seems like that trend will continue for a third consecutive week. They cannot afford to lose this game and go down 0-2 in the division.
But the Rams did play the 49ers very well a year ago. Mainly because they could get pressure with four on Kaepernick with Robert Quinn and Chris Long playing well. Both are off to good starts this year, but I don’t like the Rams’ secondary which I think may struggle against the ever-aging Anquan Boldin. If Sam Bradford and the Rams can’t start strong this week, then I don’t see how they can pull out the win. And in all three Thursday night games, the home team has started slow offensively.
There are some notable injuries in this one as well. Patrick Willis and Vernon Davis are both questionable, with signs suggesting only the latter is expected to play. And with Smith out, those are arguably their three best players. But the good thing for the 49ers is that they have Ahmad Brooks and Navorro Bowman to still rely on. Brooks will be facing a backup right tackle in Joe Barksdale since Rodger Saffold is again out this week, which could negatively impact things for Bradford.
Greg Zuerlein’s leg has played a key part in both of last year’s contests. Thus, this feels like it’s going to be a three-point game, which of course favors the Rams. But in the end, I’m going to have to go with the 49ers based largely off all the things I mentioned above and the fact that it is 2013, not 2012.
Spread Pick: 49ers
Straight Pick: 49ers