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49ers close as 10.5-point underdog vs. Rams

The San Francisco 49ers will face the Los Angeles Rams in a couple hours, and they will enter the game as a 10.5 point underdog at most sportsbooks. Most oddsmakers have the Rams as a big liability, with public and sharp bettors hitting the Rams pretty hard. Over at oddsmaker William Hill, 57 percent of wagers are on the Rams, while 63 percent of the money bet is on the Rams.

The Rams have plenty to play for in this game. If they win or the Chicago Bears lose, the Rams claim the No. 2 seed and a first round bye. Bears-Vikings kicks off at the same time as 49ers-Rams, so LA won’t know what their status is at the start of the game. It is possible they have a better idea at halftime if they’re up big or the Bears are down big, but the current situation will require them playing their starters and not letting their foot off the gas.

Earlier this week, I chatted with Turf Show Times editor Joe McAtee, and he offered some thoughts on how he sees this game playing out. How do you see it shaking out?

It really comes down to the first half for me. The Rams are usually pretty good with second half adjustments, so even if it’s close early I’d expect them to pull away late. If the Rams can build a large lead though, I’d expect to see us rotate some guys in to save some starters for the postseason like Goff, Whitworth, Donald and others.

I’m going with the former though mainly because of timing. The Rams have yet to lock in the #2 seed and a first-round bye. Because the other game that impacts that, between the Chicago Bears and Minnesota Vikings, also kicks off late, the Rams won’t know their playoff status at kickoff. So we’re just going to have to come out and play this game to the hilt and treat it for what it is: a game to earn the #2 seed. Given the stakes, I’m expecting them to come with it early and give the second string a chance to get some snaps early in the second half.