This morning, I spotted my neighbor across the street who is a big 49ers fan and I shouted over to him, “How are your 49ers going to do tonight?”
“They are going to get blown out,” he said dismissively about his favorite team’s chances.
It is like that all over the Bay Area this week. It seems the San Francisco 49ers last best chance to get competitive in the NFC West race was erased last Sunday when they couldn’t win as a favorite at home over the Arizona Cardinals. Last week, the Cardinals were forced to go with backup quarterback Colt McCoy while starter Kyler Murray was sidelined with an injury.
San Francisco then watched McCoy and the Cardinals get blown out at home yesterday by the Carolina Panthers and conventional wisdom may go something like this. If the 49ers can’t beat the Cardinals on their home field without Murray, and then the Panthers blow them away on their home field the following week, the 49ers are in big trouble.
I see it differently.
It is all about motivation.
Last week, the 49ers were wagered up to a 5½ point favorite against the team that was leading their division with the best record in football. Admittedly, I even thought the need for the 49ers to win last Sunday was great enough that they would prevail, but the motivation dictated it was the Cardinals who showed up in Santa Clara with something to prove.
And they did it, beating the favored 49ers, 31-17.
With that game behind them, the overconfident Cardinals were a sitting duck yesterday for the Panthers visit. Again, it was the football elements that kept me off yesterday’s game in Arizona. I just couldn’t justify taking Carolina with P.J. Walker running their offense while Sam Darnold was sidelined with an injury.
Turns out, that was faulting thinking too, and the Panthers not only won with Walker at quarterback but also benefited from the reemergence of Cam Newton in a Carolina uniform. The result was a one-sided win by the visitors in Arizona, 34-10.
Okay, that was yesterday, how do we take all that has happened and turn it into a winner tonight?
The 49ers meet the Los Angeles Rams at Levi’s Stadium to close out Week 10 National Football League action. The 49ers are underdogs, and the public is backing the Rams like they are the only choice in the game. They are echoing the sentiments my neighbor announced in our across the street conversation this morning.
The Rams may be the best team in the National Football Conference and are coming off a home loss last Sunday night against the Tennessee Titans. Usually, a good team off a loss is a solid proposition to win.
But the Rams tonight?
Not so much.
The Rams, like my neighbor, are no doubt confident their talent is enough to beat the 49ers in this Monday Night Football matchup. As for the 49ers, they aren’t even sure their very best effort will be enough to end a dull season that has seen them lose five of their most recent six games after opening their campaign with wins over two suspect teams, the Detroit Lions and Philadelphia Eagles.
While the Rams want this one, and are looking to catch the Cardinals in the NFC West with a win tonight, the 49ers are looking into the abyss … and that is where real motivation thrives.
Qoxhi Picks: San Francisco 49ers (+3½) over Los Angeles Rams