San Francisco 49ers at St. Louis Rams (+3, 41.5)

Less than eight months removed from a Super Bowl appearance, the San Francisco 49ers are immersed in controversy on and off the field heading into Thursday night's matchup at the St. Louis Rams. San Francisco has dropped two straight, including a stunning 27-7 defeat at home to the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday. No team played the 49ers tougher last season than the AFC West rival Rams, who battled to a 24-24 tie in San Francisco and beat them in overtime in St. Louis.

The 49ers' issues go beyond back-to-back inept performances - the team is under siege for allowing sack specialist Aldon Smith to play in Sunday's game only two days after he was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence. Smith, who has a history of off-field issues, will enter a rehab facility to receive treatment and will miss Thursday's game. St. Louis is seeking a bounce-back effort after it was demolished by the Dallas Cowboys 31-7.

TV: 8:25 p.m. ET, NFL Network.

LINE: The 49ers opened as a 3.5-point road favorites and have been bet down to -3. The total opened as high as 43.5 and has been moved down to 41.5.


49ers (-2.5) + Rams (+5.0) + home field (-3.0) = St. Louis +4.5

ABOUT THE 49ERS (1-2, 1-2 ATS): Losing in Seattle in Week 2 wasn't a surprise for San Francisco, but getting bulldozed by the Colts on both sides of the ball sent shock waves through the league. Colin Kaepernick turned in a breathtaking performance by throwing for 412 yards in the season opener but has tossed four interceptions and been limited to a combined 277 yards while leading the 49ers to only 10 points in the past two weeks. The absence of tight end Vernon Davis (hamstring) hurt versus the Colts, while the normally stout defense saw All-Pro linebacker Patrick Willis exit Sunday's game with a groin injury.

ABOUT THE RAMS (1-2, 0-3 ATS):
St. Louis posted a gritty comeback victory over Arizona in its season opener but has fallen behind by at least 21 points in back-to-back road losses to Atlanta and Dallas. Quarterback Sam Bradford threw for a season-low 240 yards and was sacked six times against the Cowboys while receiving little help from a ground game that saw starting running back Daryl Richardson play only one snap due to a foot injury. Rookie wideout Tavon Austin, the team's first-round draft pick, has six receptions in each of the first three games but is averaging only 6.6 yards per catch.


* Home team is 4-1 ATS in their last five meetings.
* Under is 5-2 in the last seven meetings in St. Louis..
* 49ers are 1-5 ATS in their last six meetings.
* Rams are 7-1 ATS in their last eight vs. NFC West.


1. Kaepernick made his third career start at St. Louis last season and had a safety and lost a fumble that was returned for a TD.

2. The Rams tied for the lead league with 52 sacks last season, but have only seven through the first three games.

3. LB Smith was second in the league with 19.5 sacks in 2012 and has registered 37 in 35 games.
Sandy Orellana 49ers Body Paint

Check out the covers.com cheat sheet for all of Thursday's NFL Week 1 preseason betting action. This is preseason Football so don't expect most teams to risk their top players. Seattle Seahawks have a great track record in the preseason and the new Chargers offense will be on display. Read our 3-step Bankroll Management Plan post learn which of these games is a Prime Wager, Action Wager or Regular Wager.

Baltimore Ravens at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-3, 35.5)

In the past, Ravens head coach John Harbaugh usually played his starters for most of the first quarter but with a rash of injuries during the summer, Baltimore may limit the action of its first stringers. 

Tampa Bay is also trying to protect its key players from injury this offseason. The Bucs aren’t sold on Josh Freeman as the No. 1, so there could be plenty of snaps for him and rookie QB Mike Glennon.

St. Louis Rams at Cleveland Browns (-4, 35.5)

St. Louis is going to give RB Daryl Richardson the starting gig heading into the preseason opener. The Rams will work in their new offensive line additions Thursday, so Sam Bradford’s workload could depend on the protection.

Cleveland won’t have RB Trent Richardson in the lineup versus St. Louis and is still without Montario Hardesty, leaving rushing duties to third and fourth-stringers Dion Lewis and Brandon Jackson. 

Washington Redskins at Tennessee Titans (-2.5, 35.5)

While Robert Griffin III says he feels great, the Redskins won’t risk throwing their franchise QB out there Thursday. Washington will go with Kirk Cousins at QB and is expected to play its starters 10-15 plays.

Tennessee head coach Mike Munchak is focusing on his rebuilt offensive line this preseason, more specifically paving the way for RB Chris Johnson. The Titans first string will play between 18 and 25 plays.

Cincinnati Bengals at Atlanta Falcons (-2.5, 37)

These two teams have shared practice time the past week, so there may be some familiarity with each other Thursday. Bengals star WR A.J. Green will sit out while nursing a sore knee and fellow WR Andrew Hawkins is out with an ankle injury.

Atlanta won’t have TE Tony Gonzalez, WR Julio Jones or LB Sean Weatherspoon in Week 1 of the preseason. Head coach Mike Smith may not keep QB Matt Ryan under center long with injuries to the offensive line this week.

Denver Broncos at San Francisco 49ers (-3, 35)

Peyton Manning is expected to see limited action all preseason but he did tell reporters he was anxious to play the 49ers Thursday, hinting that he may actually take snaps Thursday. Manning didn’t play in Denver’s Week 1 preseason game last summer.

San Francisco will give its first stringers a taste of action before turning its attention to position needs. An injury to CB Chris Culliver has left a big hole in the secondary, so there could be plenty of tinkering with the pass defense. Colt McCoy will get some face time as Colin Kaepernick’s backup.

Seattle Seahawks at San Diego Chargers (+2, 35.5)

The Seahawks have become one of the best preseason bets, going 39-26-3 ATS since 1995 including a 4-0 ATS mark last summer. Seattle QB Russell Wilson, who will see limited snaps, told reporters the Seahawks are bringing a basic offense into Thursday game.

San Diego’s new head coach Mike McCoy is stressing speed this summer, so the Bolts could be full of juice Thursday night, even though they’re missing some downfield threats. The Chargers lost WR Danario Alexander for the season after he tore his ACL this week and WR Vincent Brown is still slowed with a hamstring strain.