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49ers open up as 5-point underdogs against the Rams for Week 18

The biggest game of the season

NFL: Los Angeles Rams at San Francisco 49ers Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

The 49ers' playoff odds took a significant hit after a loss to the Titans. Entering that game, the Niners' playoff chances were over 80%. Now according to Football Outsiders, their playoff odds are 56.5%. ESPN gives San Francisco a 59.7% chance, while Five Thirty Eight says the 49ers have a 59% chance to make the playoffs.

A couple of different scenarios involve the 49ers making the playoffs. The easiest is by beating the Rams. The Niners are 5-point underdogs for next Sunday’s game at DraftKings SportsBook. The total on the game is 44.5.

Lookahead lines are always telling. For those that don’t know, that means what the projections were entering Week 17. San Francisco was a 6.5-point favorite. So for that line to drop a 1.5 means Vegas either wasn’t impressed with the Rams, were impressed with the Niners, or a bit of both.

The Rams have plenty to play for against the 49ers. A win in Week 18 and Los Angeles clinches the NFC West. On paper, and by reputation, you’d think the 12-win Rams were the best team in the NFL. But, when you watch them, you come away wanting more.

The NFL is all about trends. How have you been playing recently? The Rams offense ranks 20th in EPA per play since Week 10 and tenth in offensive success rate. Compare that to the 49ers ranking 6th and 9th, respectively.

During that same stretch, the Rams have the eighth-most passing plays over 20 yards but only rank 23rd when it comes to running plays over 15 yards. Explosive plays have been the name of the game for the Niners offense as of late. No team in the NFL has more passing plays over 20 yards than San Francisco since Week 10. Of course, it helps to have Elijah Mitchell healthy, as the Niners also rank tenth in the same category when it comes to running the ball.

This could be a sneaky high-scoring affair. Jimmy Garoppolo has struggled with taking care of the football, and Trey Lance has an interception in each start. Matthew Stafford has been worse than both in that department.

Stafford threw two awful interceptions Sunday against the Ravens, with one being returned for an interception. He threw three the week before against the Vikings and one the week prior against Seattle.

He will give the Niners plenty of opportunities to get their hands on the ball. The Rams are 28th on the season in interceptions per drive. The 49ers have to make Stafford pay for his mistakes, especially where Stafford throws it into triple coverage.

Odds/lines subject to change. T&Cs apply. See draftkings.com/sportsbook for details.