Hard-fought battle

The San Francisco 49ers defeated the Los Angeles Rams on Sunday in Week 2 NFL action. It was to be expected, after all, the Niners were 7.5-point favorites. And fancy that, the oddsmakers had it dead on, as San Francisco won the game 30-23. All makes sense in this crazy world of ours. Or does it? That final score, or to be more precise, the way that final score came to be, did not sit well with many a 49ers bettor.

As you can see from the above, San Francisco did not cover the spread, but no matter, there’s no such thing as a half a point in a football game, so the line was extremely accurate. They were favored by a touchdown and won by a touchdown.

It was a close game throughout. The Niners took an early 7-0 lead, but the Rams came roaring back to go ahead 17-10 before San Francisco quarterback Brock Purdy ran in for a touchdown at the end of the first half to tie it up. San Francisco grabbed a ten-point lead in the 4th quarter, L.A. got it to within 7, but then the 49ers extended it back to ten with a short field goal with three minutes remaining.

L.A. couldn’t get a quick score on either of its final two possessions, but did get into short field goal range with four seconds remaining.

Of course, they were down two scores, so there was no time to pull off a comeback. The game was over save for one final play. San Francisco bettors were likely happy but slightly nervous, knowing that the Rams might still try to throw for a 20-yard touchdown. The pass would probably fall incomplete, as the Niners would have most of their defenders in the end zone, and that would be it.

But for some reason, the Rams kicked a field goal as time expired, making the final score 30-23 and causing Niners -7.5 bettors to lose (this also, naturally, caused Rams bettors to win). From a game outcome standpoint, the field goal made no sense, as the clock was obviously going to run out and the score would just make the Rams lose by less.

Bettors want heads to roll

As such, lots of sports bettors are calling for an investigation into Rams head coach Sean McVay. After all, according to them, there could be no other reason for an absolutely meaningless field goal except if McVay had money on his team to cover.

Betting analyst Johnny Venezia tweeted: “THIS is why people think the NFL is fixed. Do people really think McVay didn’t know what the spread was!?”

He also pointed out a post from Ben Fawkes that showed that the Niners were one of the most bet sides at DraftKings over the weekend, implying I’m not sure exactly what. Venezia mentioned that there have been a number of players suspended recently for league gambling violations, implying here that it shouldn’t be out of the question that a coach might do something.

The difference there is that some of those players were suspended simply for placing bets on other sports while at a team facility. Others were suspended for betting on the NFL, but the league has found no evidence that games were compromised.

It seems unlikely that Sean McVay would so blatantly rig a score so that he or someone else could win a bet. I haven’t heard an explanation for the field goal, but it seems that the simplest explanation was faulty coaching in the moments leading up to it. He should have gone for a 54-yarder with about 20 seconds left. If they made it, they could have tried for an onsides kick and if they recovered that, gone for a hail mary to the endzone. There would have been nearly a zero percent chance for Rams to pull off that sequence of plays, but it still would have given them a non-zero chance to win the game, compared to zero chance kicking the field goal with no time remaining.

Given that the Rams got to that point with four seconds left, McVay may have simply wanted to give his field goal unit a live game rep. Or maybe he just wanted to additional points on the off chance tie breakers come into play for the playoffs at the end of the season.

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