Green Bay Packers (5-2) at San Francisco 49ers (4-4)
The Packers had a disappointing home loss to the Vikings last week, but that didn’t really surprise me. The Vikings are significantly better than their record and the Packers were in an obvious look ahead spot, with this matchup against the 49ers coming up just 4 days later on Thursday Night Football. The 49ers embarrassed the Packers in their two matchups last season and ended their season in the NFC Championship, so I expect a significantly better effort out of the Packers’ this week. Betting on Aaron Rodgers after a loss is typically a winning proposition in normal circumstances, as he’s 37-21 ATS off of a loss in his career, and Rodgers should be especially motivated this week, given who the Packers are facing.
Even though the Packers and 49ers both were top-2 seeds and made the NFC Championship last season, the Packers were so uncompetitive in both of their matchups with the 49ers and were so far behind the 49ers in season long stats (+3.76% first down rate differential and +169 point differential vs. +0.25% first down rate differential and +63 point differential) that it seemed like the 49ers would beat the Packers 80-90 times out of a 100 last season, but this is a far cry from last year’s 49ers’ team, so Rodgers and company have a much better chance of getting their revenge.
The 49ers didn’t lose much this off-season, aside from defensive tackle DeForest Buckner, but they’ve been ravaged by injury this season and are even more depleted now, after losing quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo and tight end George Kittle for an extended period due to injury last week and then losing left tackle Trent Williams and wide receivers Kendrick Bourne and Brandon Aiyuk to the COVID list for this matchup.
In total, the 49ers are missing their starting quarterback, 3 of their top-4 running backs, their top-3 wide receivers, their dominant tight end, their top-2 centers, and their stud left tackle and that’s just from their offense. On defense, they’ve gotten healthier in recent weeks and have played better as a result, but they’re still significantly behind last season, without top cornerback Richard Sherman and their top-2 edge rushers Nick Bosa and Dee Ford.
Making matters worse, the 49ers will have to be without all of their missing players, including their newly missed players, on a short week. Underdogs are typically at a disadvantage on a short week, as non-divisional underdogs of 3+ cover at just a 41.9% rate all-time on short rest, and it stands to reason that the 49ers would be especially at a disadvantage because they have several new starters. This line has creeped up to 6.5 with all of the 49ers’ losses, but my calculated line is Green Bay -7.5, so we’re still getting enough line value for the Packers to be worth taking. I have a hard time seeing this depleted 49ers team keep up with a motivated Aaron Rodgers on a short week.
Green Bay Packers 27 San Francisco 49ers 17
Pick against the spread: Green Bay -6.5