The Los Angeles Rams could easily be staring at a potential 3-0 start when they face the San Francisco 49ers for this inter-divisional matchup Thursday night. However, they dropped a nail-biter to the Washington Redskins by a 27-20 score last week and will be looking to bounce back on a short week.
San Francisco, on the other hand, is right where most people expected it to be after its 0-2 start, but they will be looking for their fourth straight win against the visiting Rams, with the latest coming by a 22-21 margin at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on Christmas Eve.
The Rams come into their first away game of the season sporting the 10th-ranked offense in the NFL. Los Angeles is 23rd in the league in rushing with an average of only 75 yards per game, although running back Todd Gurley finally seemed to get on track last week when he carried 16 times for 88 yards, an average of 5.5 yards per carry, and one touchdown. Gurley also added three receptions for 48 yards and another score.
Los Angeles features the seventh-ranked passing attack in the league, led by Jared Goff. Goff came out on fire in the opener against the Colts, completing 21 of 29 passes for 306 yards, one touchdown and a quarterback rating of 117.9, but came back down to earth against the visiting Redskins last week.
In the loss to Washington, Goff was only 15 of 25 for 224 yards with one touchdown and one interception, and his passer rating was a more pedestrian 86.1. Rookie receiver Cooper Kupp, the Rams’ third-round selection out of Eastern Washington, has been a highlight so far with seven receptions through the first two games for 109 yards and one score.
The Rams also feature a stingy defense that is rated third in the league in Passing Yards Allowed with an average of only 153 through the first two games. That defense, which is tied for 10th in points allowed with an average of only 18 points per game, is vulnerable against the run. Los Angeles has allowed an average of 152 yards on the ground through its first two games, good for 30th in the league.
San Francisco will hope to exploit that weakness behind the running of Carlos Hyde, who is currently fourth in the league in rushing with 169 total yards and two touchdowns. But the 49ers will need help from quarterback Brian Hoyer if it hopes to break into the win column this week.
Hoyer, who is struggling to find his comfort zone behind the 49ers re-worked offensive line, was an abysmal 15 of 27 for 99 yards and one interception against Seattle last week in a game San Francisco could easily have won but for its offensive inconsistencies. Pierre Garcon has been Hoyer’s favorite target and has recorded nine receptions for 107 yards through the first two weeks.
How to watch Rams at 49ers
Date: Thursday, September 21st, 2017
Time: 8:25 p.m. ET
Location: Levi’s Stadium, San Francisco, California
TV Channel: NBC
Announcers: Al Michaels (play-by-play), Cris Collinsworth (color analyst), Pam Oliver (sideline reporter)
Odds: Rams: -3; under/over: 40 (Bovada)