Dallas Cowboys at San Francisco 49ers: 2017 Week 7 NFL Pick

Dallas Cowboys (2-3) at San Francisco 49ers (0-6)

The 49ers are 0-6, but their last 5 losses have all come by 3 points or fewer, so they could easily have a couple victories. The Cowboys, meanwhile, were not playing well before the bye, losing at home to the Rams and Packers. However, I do like the Cowboys here as 6 point road favorites for a few reasons. The biggest reason is that they are healthy. Linebacker Sean Lee, arguably their best defensive player, missed the losses to the Rams and Packers, but will return for this one, a huge re-addition. On top of that, left tackle Tyron Smith, who was playing through an injured back, should be better after the bye week.

Speaking of the bye week, the Cowboys are in a great spot coming out of the bye, not just because they’re healthy, but because road favorites of 3+ are an incredible 41-13 ATS since 2002 after a bye. The 49ers, meanwhile, are in a tough spot because they have to turn around and play in Philadelphia next week, a game in which they will likely be double digit underdogs (+10.5 on the early line). Teams are 46-73 ATS since 2012 before being double digit underdogs and underdogs of 6 or more are 52-85 ATS before underdogs of 6 or more again the following week, over that same time period. It’s very tough for inferior teams to keep it close against a superior opponent when they have another tough opponent on deck.

Six is a fair amount of points to with Dallas, but I have this line calculated right at -6, given that the Cowboys are healthy, that the 49ers are not (now missing defensive end Arik Armstead), and that the Cowboys have a national fanbase and are a strong road team (29-21 ATS on the road since 2011). There isn’t enough here for me to bet on the Cowboys because the 49ers could end up keeping this one close again, especially if rookie quarterback CJ Beathard surprises in his first career NFL start or gets a backdoor cover, but the Cowboys should be the right side.

Dallas Cowboys 28 San Francisco 49ers 20

Pick against the spread: Dallas -6

Confidence: Low

San Francisco 49ers at Washington Redskins: 2017 Week 6 NFL Pick

San Francisco 49ers (0-5) at Washington Redskins (2-2)

When this line was -7 last week on the early line, I liked Washington a decent amount, as it looked like they continued to be underrated, as they have been throughout the season. However, for some reason, this line has moved from 7 to 10.5 in the past week, despite the Redskins being on bye and the 49ers losing in overtime in Indianapolis. That’s too many points, especially since the Redskins enter this game banged up. Top cornerback Josh Norman is out, while left tackle Trent Williams will play at less than 100% if he even plays this week. The 49ers, meanwhile, could get promising rookie linebacker Reuben Foster back for the first time since week 1.

I have this line calculated at about -9, so we’re getting decent line value with the 49ers. The 49ers haven’t won a game yet, but they’ve been coming awfully close, taking their last two opponents (Arizona and Indianapolis) to overtime and losing their last 4 games by a combined 11 points. They haven’t faced the toughest schedule, but they should be able to keep it within 10 points in Washington. The Redskins are also in a terrible spot because they have to go to Philadelphia next week, so they could easily overlook the lowly 49ers this week. The early line has the Redskins as 6.5 point underdogs next week and favorites of 6+ are understandably just 54-88 ATS since 2002 before being underdogs of 6+ the following week. There’s not quite enough here for me to be confident in the 49ers, but they seem like the smarter pick.

Washington Redskins 28 San Francisco 49ers 20

Pick against the spread: San Francisco +10.5

Confidence: Low

San Francisco 49ers at Indianapolis Colts: 2017 Week 5 NFL Pick

San Francisco 49ers (0-4) at Indianapolis Colts (1-3)

These are two of the worst teams in the league, but I think the 49ers are a little worse, at least as long as talented rookie middle linebacker Reuben Foster remains out with injury. The Colts, meanwhile, are actually getting healthier, with cornerback Vontae Davis returning last week and center Ryan Kelly back in the lineup this week. Quarterback Andrew Luck and safety Clayton Geathers remain out indefinitely, so this team still has problems, but I think the Colts’ roster is a little bit more talented than the 49ers’ right now.

This line, -1.5 in favor of the hometown Colts, suggests the opposite, that the 49ers are a little bit better. That might be true if Scott Tolzien was still the Colts’ quarterback, but Jacoby Brissett has done a decent job stabilizing this offense after Tolzien’s week 1 disastrous performance. We’re getting a couple points of line value with the Colts, who haven’t lost at home in regulation this season. They should be able to beat the 49ers, but there’s not enough for me to be that confident in them this week.

Indianapolis Colts 23 San Francisco 49ers 20

Pick against the spread: Indianapolis -1.5

Confidence: Low

San Francisco 49ers at Arizona Cardinals: 2017 Week 4 NFL Pick

San Francisco 49ers (0-3) at Arizona Cardinals (1-2)

The Cardinals finished the 2015 season #1 in first down rate differential when they finished 13-3 and then they finished #1 in that metric again in 2016, despite going 7-8-1, as they could have easily won 10-12 games if not for numerous special teams errors in close games. However, this Cardinals team is not the same team as the past 2 seasons. They lost five defensive starters in free agency, including defensive end Calais Campbell, safety DJ Swearinger, and safety Tony Jefferson, all of whom were among the best players in the league at this position in 2016. On top of that, they’ve been ravaged by injuries, most importantly a wrist injury to David Johnson that has him sidelined indefinitely.

As a result, the Cardinals are just 1-2, with their one win coming in overtime against the lowly Colts. The good news is they have arguably their easiest game of the season this week with the 49ers coming to town. After starting the season with back-to-back games on the road and then a home game against the Cowboys, this is a welcome sight for them. They’re also getting healthier, with middle linebacker Deone Bucannon set to make his season debut and left tackle DJ Humphries returning to the lineup for the first time since the first half week 1.

The Cardinals still have injury issues, with Johnson, defensive end Robert Nkemdiche, and left guard Mike Iupati out indefinitely, but the 49ers have injuries too, with safety Eric Reid and middle linebacker Reuben Foster out and running back Carlos Hyde limited at best with a hip injury. Given the state of these two rosters right now, I have this line calculated at -9, suggesting these two teams are about 6 points apart. We’re getting some line value with the Cardinals as 6.5 point home favorites, but there isn’t quite enough here for me to be confident in Arizona covering.

Arizona Cardinals 24 San Francisco 49ers 16

Pick against the spread: Arizona -6.5

Confidence: Low

Los Angeles Rams at San Francisco 49ers: 2017 Week 3 NFL Pick

Los Angeles Rams (1-1) at San Francisco 49ers (0-2)

This is one of the least enticing games of the week from both a watching and a betting standpoint. I typically don’t like betting on Thursday night games. They are more unpredictable than regular games because neither team is able to be at it’s best on a short week. When I do make a Thursday night bet, I typically bet on a superior home team against an inferior non-divisional opponent. That’s because it’s very tough for an inferior team to go on the road on a short week and play a superior team with which they are unfamiliar.

None of that applies here. These divisional rivals are very familiar with each other and the road team is the superior team. There aren’t that many teams that the Rams are better than, but the 49ers are one of them, as they have arguably the worst roster in football (I have them only ahead of the Jets). The Rams have to travel and start a young inexperienced quarterback on a short week though, so they’re not an enticing bet as 3 point favorites. This game is probably more of a toss up than this line suggests, so I’m taking the 49ers, but neither side is worth any sort of bet this week.

Los Angeles Rams 19 San Francisco 49ers 17

Pick against the spread: San Francisco +3

Confidence: None

Also, by request, I’m going to be posting lines I lock in early in the week during my Thursday Night writeups this season, so readers can lock them in before they move. These are not all my picks for the week, just picks where I think the line may move in an unfavorable direction (usually underdogs). The rest of the writeups will continue to be posted over the weekend as normal.

JAX +4 vs. BAL (I would take 3 or 3.5)

 

San Francisco 49ers at Seattle Seahawks: 2017 Week 2 NFL Pick

San Francisco 49ers (0-1) at Seattle Seahawks (0-1)

The Seahawks’ season opened with a tough trip to Lambeau Field, where they lost by score of 17-9 and fell to 0-1 for the first time since 2012. Their offense struggled all game, gaining just 12 first downs to Green Bay’s 26, as their offensive line looked as bad as it had all last season. That’s concerning because the Seattle have the skill position talent to be a strong offense if they can get even adequate play from their offensive line and they also have arguably the strongest defense in the league. This team has the talent to compete for another trip to the Super Bowl, but they need to play better upfront.

Fortunately, they get a much easier matchup this week with San Francisco coming to town for their home opener. The 49ers are coming off of a 20-point loss in their home opener and are arguably the least talented team in the league. They likely get safety Jimmie Ward back from injury this week, but will be without rookie linebacker Reuben Foster. Even though he’s a rookie, Foster is one of the 49ers’ best defensive players given how weak they are on that side of the ball and it made a noticeable impact when he wasn’t on the field last week.

The 49ers don’t have the talent to take advantage of the Seahawks’ issues upfront, so Seattle should be able to dominate this one. Seattle has a great track record off of a loss in the Russell Wilson era, going 15-7-1 ATS. This line is huge at two touchdowns, but the Seahawks also have a great track record as big home favorites in the Russell Wilson era, going 9-3 ATS as home favorites of 12 or more. There isn’t enough here for me to put money on the Seahawks, but they should be the right side for pick ‘em purposes.

Seattle Seahawks 27 San Francisco 49ers 9

Pick against the spread: Seattle -14

Confidence: Low

Carolina Panthers at San Francisco 49ers: 2017 Week 1 NFL Pick

Carolina Panthers (0-0) at San Francisco 49ers (0-0)

The Panthers had the best record in the league in 2015, but then they had the biggest dropoff in the league in terms of win total in 2016, falling 9 games from 15-1 to 6-10. There are a number of reasons why they dropped off, but a big one was their inability to win close games. With 6 losses by a 3 points or fewer, they could have easily been 9-7 or 10-6 if a few plays had gone their way. They also lost cornerback Josh Norman in free agency the previous off-season and Cam Newton did not live up to his career best 2015 season. In addition, middle linebacker Luke Kuechly and center Ryan Kalil missed significant time with injury.

Norman isn’t coming back and Newton’s is unlikely to live up to 2015, but Kuechly and Kalil are healthy, their young secondary could take a step forward, they added two much needed offensive playmakers in the first two rounds of the draft in Christian McCaffrey and Curtis Samuel, and they should get better offensive line play, with Matt Kalil upgrading the left tackle spot and right guard Trai Turner likely to bounce back from a down 2016 season. This team probably won’t reach their 2015 level, but should still be one of the better teams in the NFC and compete with the Falcons for the NFC South title.

Given that, this line is too low. The 49ers are one of the worst teams in football and are missing top defensive back Jimmie Ward with injury. They are also in a tough spot given that they have to turn around and face the Seahawks in Seattle next week. The 49ers will almost definitely be double digit underdogs in that games and teams are 43-68 ATS since 2012 before being underdogs of 10+ points. I’d confidently lay the 5 points with the Panthers. This line should be higher than the touchdown the Falcons are favored by in Chicago.

Carolina Panthers 27 San Francisco 49ers 16

Pick against the spread: Carolina -5

Confidence: High