Green Bay Packers (3-0) at San Francisco 49ers (1-2)
The 49ers have lost their last 2 games by margins of 25 (43-18) and 40 (47-7) respectively and now they face Green Bay, one of seven 3-0 teams remaining and arguably the best team in the NFL. The Packers should be able to win by double digits and cover this 9.5 point spread with ease right? Well, the public seems to think so, going heavy on the Packers this week, but, as is often the case, I’m going the other way. I love to fade heavy public leans whenever it makes sense because the public always loses money in the wrong run and doing so makes sense here.
For one thing, the 49ers’ two big losses were both on the road, but now they return home, where they looked very good week 1 in a 20-3 win over a solid Minnesota team. That was only one game, but their huge losses in Pittsburgh and Arizona were only two games and I feel like people probably just ignore their strong week 1 performance at home in favor of focusing on their two weak performances on the road. The 49ers aren’t a very good team, but they’re better than they’ve been the last two weeks.
Teams tend to bounce back off of back-to-back losses of 21+ anyway, going 41-25 ATS in that spot since 2002. On top of that, teams are 50-25 ATS since 2002 off of a loss by 35+. That’s because teams tend to be underrated, overlooked, and embarrassed off of awful showings like that. I can’t tell you for certain that the Packers will overlook them a little bit or that the 49ers will play harder trying to avenge two awful losses, but it does make sense that both sides would do that and I do think the 49ers are undervalued here as 9.5 point underdogs. This line was just 6.5 a week ago in the early line and a 3 point shift across the key number of 7 is a significant shift. Not only do I love fading the public, but I especially love fading the public when doing so also means I’m fading a huge line movement. Huge line movements like that from week-to-week are usually brought about by overreactions to a single week of play.
The Packers, meanwhile, are not nearly as good on the road as they are at home. While they are 39-7, outscoring opponents by an average of 12.04 points per game, at home, they are just 26-20 on the road, outscoring opponents by an average of just 1.28 points per game. They barely covered as 7 point favorites in Chicago earlier this year in their only other road game this season, winning by just 8, after trailing for a large portion of the game against a Bears team that is comparable to this San Francisco team. The Packers are also now more banged up than they were in that game week 1. They’re still missing wide receiver Jordy Nelson, but now they’re also missing right tackle Bryan Bulaga and likely both safety Morgan Burnett and Nelson’s replacement Davante Adams with injuries.
The Packers have had great performances at home over the past 2 weeks, but they’re far being from that same powerhouse on the road and they could easily find themselves in another battle on the road with an inferior team, this time one that is fighting for their pride and also essentially fighting for their season. It’s also worth mentioning that the 49ers have beaten the Packers in 4 straight contests. This is far from the same San Francisco team, but Green Bay defensive coordinator Dom Capers is still around and he’s never been able to figure out Colin Kaepernick’s dual threat abilities.
The only reason this isn’t my Pick of the Week is because Green Bay has another easy game on deck, hosting the Rams, against whom they are expected to be 9 point favorites. Teams are 105-65 ATS since 2010 as 6+ point favorites before being 6+ point favorites again, as they have no upcoming distractions. Meanwhile, the 49ers play the Giants on the road next week and are expected to be 7 point underdogs in that one. Teams are just 70-95 ATS as 6+ point underdogs before being 6+ point underdogs again. However, the Giants aren’t very good either and I really don’t think the 49ers will overlook the Packers just because they’re facing the Giants next week. A solid showing by the 49ers here this week could also easily drop that line closer to 4 or 5, which is where it should be. I’d still put money on San Francisco this week.
Green Bay Packers 24 San Francisco 49ers 20
Pick against the spread: San Francisco +9.5