NFL Game Preview for December 26, 2010: San Francisco 49ers @ St. Louis Rams

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NFL Game Preview for December 26, 2010: San Francisco 49ers @ St. Louis Rams
J. Meric/Getty Images
Sam Bradford

Betting Overview:

The San Francisco 49ers are 5-9 and the St. Louis Rams are 6-8, and this is a battle for the lead in the NFC West.

The preseason NFL predictions for the NFC West were weak, but few NFL betting experts expected the division winner to possibly be below .500.

The NFL scores that the San Francisco 49ers have been putting up lately indicate a team playing desperate football and trying to string together enough wins just to stay in playoff contention. 

The St. Louis Rams are trying to develop a winning team. The decisions the Rams are making and the way they are playing their games indicate a team that has confidence in its plan.

The team also has confidence in rookie quarterback Sam Bradford, who looks like he could develop into a future great quarterback. The Rams have a potent running game led by running back Steven Jackson and an offensive line that gets better every week.

Offense:

The San Francisco 49ers cannot seem to make up their mind at quarterback. Alex Smith started the season and looked to be the guy that head coach Mike Singletary was going to develop into the team’s starting quarterback.

Then Alex Smith was benched in favor of the more mobile Troy Smith and the buzz started that the 49ers had found their starting quarterback.

Two weeks ago, Troy Smith was benched and Alex Smith came in to win a game. Now Alex Smith is the starting quarterback.

The way the 49ers are handling the quarterback position is a thumbnail sketch of how they have handled the entire season.

The Rams are impressed with rookie quarterback Sam Bradford, and are looking to build an offense around him. The offensive line may be looking at a few changes for next season, and the receivers may need a slight overhauling.

But running back Steven Jackson has shown that he belongs as a major part of this offense now and in the foreseeable future. It has been a long time since Jackson was on a winning team and this Rams team could be going to the playoffs.

Defense:

The one thing that may give Steven Jackson problems in this game is San Francisco’s seventh ranked run defense.

The 49ers are only allowing around 100 total rushing yards per game, and they may be able to limit Jackson’s ability to bail out Bradford if the rookie quarterback should start feeling the heat of the 49ers’ pass rush.

But the 49ers have not shown any ability to get pressure on the quarterback this season, which is good news for the Rams offense.

The Rams defense is ranked 17th in the league, but it is getting better. The Rams are limiting other teams to an average of 21 points per game, and have been tough when it comes to goal line stands this season.

The Rams’ ability to hold in the red zone against weaker offenses may be the big difference in this game.

The Bottom Line:

As soon as Singletary figures out what he is doing in San Francisco, that team should start to be able to put wins together.

The NFC West is up for grabs for the next few years, but it looks like it is the Rams that are willing to take advantage of the situation.

Pick: St. Louis Rams

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