Week 10’s Monday Night Football matchup will see the Los Angeles Rams (7-2) travel to Levi’s Stadium for a divisional showdown against the San Francisco 49ers (3-5).
- Scheduled Start Time: 8:15 p.m. EST on Monday, November 15th
- Location: Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, CA
- TV Channel: ESPN
- Spread: Rams -3.5
- Over/Under: 50.5 Points
- WR Robert Woods
- QB Bryce Perkins
- CB Dont’e Deayon
- OLB Chris Garrett
- OL Alaric Jackson
- OL Tremayne Anchrum Jr.
- TE Bryce Hopkins
- CB Dre Kirkpatrick
- RB JaMychal Hasty
- OL Colton McKivitz
- DL Maurice Hurst
What’s at Stake
The Rams have had a fair amount of success thus far this season, and they currently sit at 7-2 on the year. A win on Monday night would technically put them in a tie with the Arizona Cardinals (8-2) for 1st place in the NFC West, but the Cardinals do own the head-to-head tiebreaker at this point in time. LA will surely look to bounce back in a big way tonight after losing their most recent game versus the Tennessee Titans in a convincing fashion.
The 49ers have not had the same level of success this year. They are currently 3-5, which puts them in 3rd place in the NFC West and on the outside looking in as far as playoff contention is concerned. The Niners have lost 5 of their last 6 games and will look to end this skid tonight.
By the Numbers
The Rams’ offense has been prolific so far this season. From Week 1 through Week 9 of the 2021 NFL Season, they were first in passing yards, second in passing touchdowns, and first in 1st down percentage. Big play potential has contributed quite a bit to this success, as the Rams were also tied for first in number of 40+ yard passing plays and 3rd in Y/A over this same stretch of games. At roughly the halfway point of the 2021 NFL season, the addition of Matthew Stafford by the Rams appears to be one of the most impactful acquisitions in recent memory.
The Rams’ rushing attack has not been a weakness either. Darrell Henderson Jr. has filled in admirably for an injured Cam Akers. Through 8 games of action, Henderson has 562 yards and 5 touchdowns on the ground. Additionally, he has added 144 yards and 2 touchdowns through the air on 19 catches.
The 49ers’ offense has not had the same level of success through the air as the Rams’ offense has had thus far this season. From Weeks 1 through 9, they were in the bottom half of the league in passing yards, passing touchdowns, and completion percentage.
Their rushing offense has been somewhat more successful, as they are in the top third of the league in YPC and rushing touchdowns going into their Week 10 matchup with the Rams. They have achieved this level of success despite their backfield being far from healthy for most of the year. Starting RB Raheem Mostert was lost for the season due to a knee injury after only 1 week of play. 2021 6th round pick Elijah Mitchell has played relatively well in Mostert’s absence, but he has also struggled to remain healthy so far this season, missing Weeks 3 and 4 with a shoulder injury.
Many thought that the 49ers’ 2021 3rd round draft pick, Trey Sermon, would be the next man up following Mostert’s injury. However, he has missed time due to both a concussion and coach’s decisions. Sermon has yet to receive more than 1 carry in games when Mitchell has played, suggesting that perhaps the Niners’ coaching staff still views him as a bit of a raw prospect.
The Rams’ offense is not solely responsible for the team’s success thus far this season. In fact, it could be argued that their defense has been equally impressive. They have more interceptions (12) than passing touchdowns (10) given up through 9 weeks of play. Additionally, they also had more sacks (28) than any other team through Week 9.
The Rams’ rushing defense has also been performing well, as both their YPC and rushing yards against are in the bottom half of the league. The Rams’ defensive performance only figures to improve with the addition of OLB Von Miller (discussed below).
The Niners have had an interesting year defensively. Despite allowing one of the highest completion percentages in the NFL, they are in the bottom third of the league in passing yards allowed. However, despite this low yardage total, the Niners are still allowing one of the highest passer ratings (101.9 ) in the league. They have also struggled to make plays on the defensive side of the ball when in pass coverage, as they rank close to last in sacks (18), and INT (2). Additionally, they have allowed one of the highest totals of 40+ yard passes in the league, which is a major cause for concern when matched up against the Rams, who are tied for the league lead in 40+ yard passing plays.
What the 49ers have lacked in opportunistic pass coverage they have made up for in big hits and strategic strips of the ball. They currently rank first in the league with 12 fumbles forced. Their overall rush defense has been relatively mediocre, however, as they are in the middle of the pack in terms of rushing yards allowed on one of the highest YPC (4.4).
What to Watch for
Home Field Advantage…?
Usually, the home team is considered to have an advantage in sporting events; however, that may not be the case when the Rams take on the 49ers tonight. So far this season, the Rams are undefeated in 4 games on the road. The 49ers, on the other hand, have not won a single one of their 4 home games. Will both of these trends continue, or will San Francisco be able to re-establish some semblance of home-field advantage in their home stadium?
Next Man Up
Perhaps the biggest storyline going into Monday Night Football in Week 10 is how the Rams will utilize their receivers that are not named Cooper Kupp. Robert Woods tore his ACL in practice on Friday; coincidentally, the Rams signed recently released receiver Odell Beckham Jr. that very same day.
While Woods wasn’t exactly on pace to match his impressive 2020 campaign, his presence will still be greatly missed as the Rams attempt to compete for a Super Bowl title. Prior to his injury, Woods was second on the Rams in every single major receiving category. He will likely be most immediately missed in the Red Zone, as Woods was 4th in the entire NFL in Red Zone targets through 10 weeks.
Given the difficulty of learning an entirely new playbook, it is usually unfair to expect a newly acquired WR to contribute to a pro offense right away. Odell Beckham Jr. does not figure to be an exception to this rule. While some reports do suggest that the Rams have drawn up a few plays for OBJ, his overall share in the offense will likely start out small and increase with time.
For now, receiver Van Jefferson, who has actually had a solid season in his own right, figures to pick up the bulk of the target share vacated by Woods. He is only 123 receiving yards and 1 touchdown short of Woods’ own numbers despite catching 18 fewer passes on 23 fewer targets. Tight end Tyler Higbee may also see an increase in target share, especially in the red zone and short-yardage situations.
Odell Beckham Jr. is not the only high-profile player that the Rams have acquired recently. Los Angeles traded away 2 second-day 2022 draft picks for perennial Pro Bowler Von Miller. Miller, who did not play in LA’s Week 9 loss to the Titans, has actually had somewhat of a quiet year (by his standards, at least). He was on pace for 10.93 sacks before being traded, which would have been the 3rd lowest (full season) sack total of his career despite this season having an additional game.
With that being said, it is not unreasonable to expect Miller’s production to increase now that he is on the Rams. Opposing teams still have to deal with Aaron Donald and Leonard Floyd, which should allow Miller to capitalize on the offense’s attention being focused elsewhere.
To make matters worse for the 49ers, starting RT Mike McGlinchey is done for the year due to a torn quadriceps. Miller has traditionally lined up on the left side of the defensive formation throughout his career, placing him across from McGlinchey’s likely replacement, rookie Jaylon Moore. Miller’s first game as a Ram could be a productive one if Moore is not up to par.
Is This Seat Getting Warmer?
Jimmy Garoppolo is probably more upset than anybody that McGlinchey is done for the year. The 49ers drafted Trey Lance 3rd overall in the 2021 NFL Draft, signaling that they do not view Jimmy Garoppolo as a franchise quarterback. Jimmy G has been fighting for his job ever since, though perhaps more so in media’s perception than in actuality. SF Head Coach Kyle Shanahan continues to stand by Jimmy G when questioned, stating that he remains the starter for the foreseeable future.
Some thought that Lance would take over the job when Garoppolo was forced to miss a week with an injury, but Lance did not do enough with his limited opportunity to convince Shanahan and the rest of the coaching staff that he provides more of a chance at winning than Jimmy G. The Niners seem content to let Lance sit and learn for now, but for how long is anybody’s guess. Jimmy Garoppolo’s seat only grows hotter with each loss, and he may feel additional pressure to perform in this important divisional matchup.
LA’s Kupp Runneth Over
Cooper Kupp has been an absolute revelation so far this season. Through 9 weeks of play, Kupp leads the entire NFL in catches, receiving yards, and receiving touchdowns. In other words, he has a legitimate shot at winning a receiver’s version of the Triple Crown (receptions, yards, and touchdowns). This feat has only been achieved 3 times in the Super Bowl Era (Jerry Rice in 1990, Sterling Sharpe in 1992, and Steve Smith in 2005). It remains to be seen how the loss of Woods will affect Kupp’s production, but he will surely look to extend his lead in these categories on Monday night.
The offense of the Los Angeles Rams will resume its high-flying ways despite the loss of Robert Woods, and the Rams’ revamped pass rush will ensure that the 49ers’ losing streak in their own stadium grows even longer.
LAR 28 – 17 SF
Follow the author on Twitter!
Follow Championship Sports Media on Twitter!
Check out the CSM Shop!