Week 3 of the 2017 NFL season features the first divisional matchup on "Thursday Night Football." The Los Angeles Rams visit the San Francisco 49ers with both NFC West teams looking to bounce back from a loss.

The latest betting odds have L.A. favored by two points on the road, via OddsShark. Here’s a closer look at the Week 3 game, as well as a prediction against the spread:

Why the Rams could cover the spread

Los Angeles certainly isn’t as good as they looked in their 37-point Week 1 win over the Indianapolis Colts, and it showed in Sunday’s seven-point loss at home to the Washington Redskins. That doesn’t mean they aren’t improved from a year ago and considerably better than the 49ers.

The Rams get into trouble when they have to rely on their offense making big plays and putting up a lot of points. After scoring two defensive touchdowns in the season opener, L.A. was unable to match Washington’s 27 points in Week 2. Facing a team that still hasn’t scored a touchdown this season, the Rams' offense won’t be asked to do too much Thursday night.

Brian Hoyer isn’t the NFL’s worst starting quarterback, but he’s not very far from being the worst either. Only Andy Dalton and DeShone Kizer have worse passer ratings through two games. His 146 passing yards per game are the worst of any quarterback that’s made two starts, as are his 4.71 yards per attempt. Even if Hoyer has his best game of the season, that probably won’t be saying much.

It won’t be often this season that the Rams have a clear advantage at quarterback. But it was the case in Week 1 with Jared Goff improved from a dismal rookie campaign, and it appears to be the case again in Week 3. He’ll face a San Francisco defense that will be without safety Eric Reid and likely linebacker Reuben Foster.

Scoring 17 points might be enough for the Rams to win by at least a field goal in their only primetime game of the season.

Why the 49ers could cover the spread

Despite their 0-2 start, there are reasons to believe the 49ers will get their first win of the season. San Francisco has actually played well enough defensively to win, ranking 10th in yards allowed per game. They’ve got a chance to win a low-scoring game in Week 3 by keeping the game below the over/under of 40.

Facing Cam Newton and Russell Wilson, the 49ers are seventh in passing yards allowed. Opposing rushers are averaging just 3.3 yards per carry. The defensive line is the strength of San Francisco’s defense, and it has a chance to make life difficult for Todd Gurley, who has failed to rush for even 90 yards in either of the Rams’ first two games.  

Goff put up big numbers in the season opener, facing minimal pressure from the Colts. He didn’t have nearly as much time to sit in the pocket in Week 2, and the result was an interception and 82 fewer yards. Los Angeles’ offensive line is still a work in progress. If Gurley can’t run the ball effectively and Goff is asked to carry the offense, he could be forced into making poor throws by San Francisco’s defensive front.

Keeping the Rams off the scoreboard will allow the 49ers to run the ball and limit what they are forced to ask of Hoyer. Carlos Hyde averaged 5.0 yards per carry in Week 1 against the Carolina Panthers, but he only had nine rushes because the 49ers fell behind early. In a close game against the Seattle Seahawks Sunday, Hyde ran the ball 15 times for 124 yards.

L.A.’s run defense was its Achilles’ heel in Week 2. The Redskins won, not because of Kirk Cousins, but because they ran the ball 39 times for 229 yards. The 49ers will win if they come close to approaching that number in Week 3.


The Rams won two more games than the 49ers a year ago, and the gap between the two rivals should be even greater this year. L.A. has an improved quarterback that’s playing with better weapons and an upgraded offensive line. San Francisco took a step back at the game’s most important position, and a slight upgrade to their front seven won’t be enough to get them out of the NFC West’s basement.

L.A. had a chance to defeat Washington and start the season with two straight wins. Aaron Donald should be better in the second game back from his holdout, continuing San Francisco’s struggles on offense.

Thursday night games are usually sloppy. The 49ers could get blown out if they aren’t careful.

Los Angeles over San Francisco, 23-13