Seattle Seahawks at San Francisco 49ers: 2016 Week 17 NFL Pick

Seattle Seahawks (9-5-1) at San Francisco 49ers (2-13)

The Seahawks are typically a very good team in the 2nd half of the regular season under Pete Carroll, going 34-12-1 ATS since Carroll’s first season in 2011 in games 9-16 of the regular season. This year they’ve been 4-3 ATS in the 2nd half of the regular season, but that’s largely because they’ve been overrated for most of the season. In the first half of the regular season, they covered the spread in just two games, squeaking out close victories as big favorites against the Dolphins, Bills, and Falcons, losing to the Saints and Rams in upset fashion, and tying the Cardinals in a game that had an even line. They only covered the spread in big victories over the Jets and these 49ers, two of the worst teams in the league. In the second half of the season, they’ve pulled the upset in New England and gotten big victories over the Eagles, Panthers, and Rams, though they’ve also lost as favorites against the Cardinals, Packers, and Buccaneers. Still, they’ve definitely been a better team in the second half of the season again.

After last week’s home loss to the Cardinals, it doesn’t seem like the Seahawks are overrated anymore. The Cardinals are an underrated team that has won the first down rate battle in 13 of 15 games and that could easily be 10-5 or even 11-4 if they didn’t blow 5 close games with special teams mistakes, but that home loss has moved this line 3 points from 12.5 on the early line last week to 9.5 this week, a significant line movement. The 49ers pulled off a close victory against the terrible Rams last week, but that was just their 2nd victory of the season and prior to that win that had lost 13 straight by an average of 15.23 points per game, including 9 losses by double digits. The Seahawks should be able to make that 10 losses by double digits, though there’s not quite enough here for me to bet money on them.

Seattle Seahawks 23 San Francisco 49ers 10

Pick against the spread: Seattle -9.5

Confidence: Low

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San Francisco 49ers at Los Angeles Rams: 2016 Week 16 NFL Pick

San Francisco 49ers (1-13) at Los Angeles Rams (4-10)

These two teams met back in week 1 in what ended up being an absolute rout by the hometown San Francisco 49ers. Not only did the 49ers shutout the Rams, but they won the first down battle 28 to 10 and moved the chains at a 41.56% rate, as opposed to 16.67% for the Rams, a differential of 24.89% that is still one of the biggest single game first down rate differentials of the season. Since then though, the 49ers have lost 13 straight by an average of 15.23 points. The Rams haven’t been much better, entering this game at 4-10, with their 4 victories coming by a combined 18 points and their 10 losses coming by a combined 149 points, giving them a -131 point differential on the season, which is only ahead of the Browns and 49ers.

The 49ers actually still rank higher than the Rams in first down rate, though they’ve been ravaged by injuries this season and are missing, among others, cornerback Jimmie Ward, defensive end Arik Armstead, middle linebacker NaVorro Bowman, and safety Eric Reid for the season. All 4 of those players played in the week 1 matchup and those were arguably their best defensive players before going down. Now they’re working with a skeleton crew on defense and things are not much better on offense, where left tackle Joe Staley, easily their best player on either side of the ball, will miss his 3rd straight game with a hamstring injury. The Rams have had some injuries this season, most notably to defensive end Robert Quinn, their top pass rusher who is out for the season, but they definitely have an advantage in terms of injury situations.

Despite that, we’re still getting line value with the 49ers as 5 point underdogs in Los Angeles. The Rams are probably a little bit better of a team, but this line should be much closer to 3 in favor of the host, as these two teams are more or less even. That being said, there’s not enough here for me to be confident in the 49ers, especially since both teams are in a pretty good spot. The Rams have lost back-to-back games by 21+ and teams are 44-29 ATS in that spot since 2002, as teams tend to be overlooked, embarrassed, and undervalued in that spot. However, they are not undervalued as 5 point home favorites. They probably won’t be overlooked by a team that has lost 13 straight. And, they probably aren’t entering this game any more embarrassed than the 49ers are. On the flip side, for the 49ers, road underdogs on a 7+ game losing streak are 56-32 ATS since 1989, as teams also tend to be overlooked, embarrassed, and undervalued in that spot.

It also helps the 49ers that they’re in their 2nd of two road games. Teams are 142-108 ATS as road underdogs off a road loss since 2008, including 113-74 ATS when it’s their 2nd of 2 road games. This is because teams tend to do better in their 2nd straight road game than their first one, but lines don’t really adjust for this. Teams are 239-254 straight up in their 2nd of two road games since 2008, getting outscored by an average of 0.94 points per game, as opposed to 341-476 straight up in their 1st of one road game since 2008, getting outscored by an average of 2.96 points per game. However, with a tough home game against the Seahawks on deck, the 49ers are in a tough spot, as teams tend to struggle before tough home games, going 18-40 ATS since 2012 before being 7+ point home underdogs, which the 49ers almost definitely will be next week. I’m taking the 49ers because I’m expecting a field goal game, but I couldn’t be confident betting any money on them.

Los Angeles Rams 16 San Francisco 49ers 13

Pick against the spread: San Francisco +5

Confidence: Low

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San Francisco 49ers at Atlanta Falcons: 2016 Week 15 NFL Pick

San Francisco 49ers (1-12) at Atlanta Falcons (8-5)

Since beating the lowly Rams by 28 on Monday Night Football back in week 1, the 49ers have lost 12 straight games, by an average of 14.17 points per game. This line is very high at 13.5, but not when you consider that the 49ers have been blown out by pretty much every team that has played them and that the Falcons are one of the best teams in the league. Six of San Francisco’s 12 losses came by two touchdowns or more, enough to cover this line, so I don’t see why the Falcons couldn’t give the 49ers their 7th such loss. Atlanta ranks 3rd in the NFL in point differential, behind only New England and Dallas, and 4th in first down rate differential. In a year with so few top tier teams, the Falcons are quietly closer to elite than most realize. I couldn’t bet money on the Falcons at 13.5 without injured Julio Jones, but this should be a big Atlanta win even without him.

Atlanta Falcons 31 San Francisco 49ers 13

Pick against the spread: Atlanta -13.5

Confidence: Low

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New York Jets at San Francisco 49ers: 2016 Week 14 NFL Pick

New York Jets (3-9) at San Francisco 49ers (1-11)

The Jets were embarrassed on national television in a 41-10 Monday Night Football home loss to the Indianapolis Colts last week. This might sound counterintuitive, but that puts them in a great spot this week, as teams are 92-54 ATS since 2002 off of an against the spread loss of 28 or more (the Jets lost by 31 as 2 point underdogs). It makes sense when you think about it, as teams tend to be overlooked, undervalued, and embarrassed in that spot. I don’t know if the Jets are truly embarrassed or not, but they could easily be overlooked and I think they’re definitely undervalued.

This line shifted from 1 in favor of the 49ers on the early line last week to 3 this week, thanks to the Jets’ horrible showing on national television. That’s way too big of a line movement, especially considering the 49ers lost big as road favorites in Chicago last week. This line suggests that these two teams are more or less even, but I think the Jets are still a level above the 49ers, even down to 3rd string quarterback Bryce Petty. The 49ers’ defense has been decimated by injuries and this week they are missing left tackle Joe Staley, easily their best player on either side of the ball. They’ve lost their lost 11 straight games by an average of 14.91 points per game.

The 49ers could also easily overlook the Jets, with a tough road game in Atlanta on deck. Teams are 160-260 ATS since 2002 before being double digit underdogs, including 37-62 ATS as favorites. In a lost season, the 49ers could easily overlook a bad Jets team with a tough opponent on deck. The Jets are less likely to overlook the 49ers because of how badly they got beaten last week and the Jets are also the better team. There’s not enough here for me to put any money on the Jets as 3 point underdogs, but I think the money line at +120 is a good value.

New York Jets 17 San Francisco 49ers 16 Upset Pick +120

Pick against the spread: NY Jets +3

Confidence: Low

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San Francisco 49ers at Chicago Bears: 2016 Week 13 NFL Pick

San Francisco 49ers (1-10) at Chicago Bears (2-9)

The 49ers have lost 10 straight games, but are favored here on the road. To give you an idea of how rare that is, the 49ers are just the 5th team since 1989 to be favored despite being on a losing streak of 10+ games and just the 2nd team since 1989 to be favored on the road despite being on a losing streak of 10+ games. It’s not like most of those 10 losses were close either, as 7 out of 10 came by double digits and the average margin of defeat is 14.4 points. That being said, I couldn’t be confident enough in the Bears to put money on them unless we were getting a full field goal with them.

The Bears are incredibly banged up right now and might be the worst team in the league. They’re missing their top two quarterbacks (Jay Cutler and Brian Hoyer), their top-3 pass catchers (Alshon Jeffery, Kevin White, and Zach Miller), their best offensive lineman (Kyle Long), and three of their best defensive players (middle linebackers Danny Trevathan and Jerrell Freeman and cornerback Kyle Fuller), while outside linebacker Leonard Floyd, outside linebacker Willie Young, starting guard Josh Sitton, and slot receiver Eddie Royal are all expected to be gametime calls. Even if the Bears aren’t the worst team in the league, the 49ers are still in a better spot in their second of two road games, with an easy home game against the Jets on deck (in which they will likely be favored again). The Bears, meanwhile, have to turn around and go to division leading Detroit next week. I’m taking the points, but unless the line creeps up to 3 this is just a low confidence pick. The money line might be your best bet here at +110.

Chicago Bears 23 San Francisco 49ers 20 Upset Pick +110

Pick against the spread: Chicago +2

Confidence: Low

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San Francisco 49ers at Miami Dolphins: 2016 Week 12 NFL Pick

San Francisco 49ers (1-9) at Miami Dolphins (6-4)

The Browns haven’t won a game this season, but there’s an argument to be made that the 1-9 49ers are the worst team in the league this season. They don’t rank dead last in first down rate differential, but that’s only because of a 28-0 blowout win week 1 over the Rams. The Rams have not been good this year (one of two teams with a worse first down rate differential than the 49ers), but that win looks like a complete fluke given what’s happened since. Since that week 1 win, the 49ers have lost 9 straight games by an average of 15.22 points per game with all but 1 loss coming by double digits.

The Dolphins are a solid team that has a 6-4 record and that ranks 12th in first down rate differential, so they should be able to hand the 49ers another big loss. However, it’s tough to be confident in the Dolphins when they’re going to be missing at least their top-2 and maybe their top-3 offensive linemen. Center Mike Pouncey and left tackle Branden Albert remain out, while Laremy Tunsil is a gametime decision at best. Tunsil has played well this season at left guard and has also played left tackle well when Albert’s been injured, so that would be a huge loss for them if he can’t go. The Dolphins are the pick in pick ‘em pools, but I wouldn’t bet anything real on them.

Miami Dolphins 24 San Francisco 49ers 16

Pick against the spread: Miami -7

Confidence: None

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New England Patriots at San Francisco 49ers: 2016 Week 11 NFL Pick

New England Patriots (7-2) at San Francisco 49ers (1-8)

The Patriots lost last week at home to the Seattle Seahawks. It was just their 2nd loss of the season, but there’s reason for concern. The Patriots’ defense got gashed all game in their first game since the controversial Jamie Collins trade. Also controversially, the Patriots are not even bringing defensive end Jabaal Sheard on this trip with them, even though he was a starter 3 weeks ago before their bye and arguably their best defensive lineman last season. Sheard was relegated to backup snaps last week and now won’t play at all, even though he’s healthy. Between Collins, Sheard, and Chandler Jones, who was controversially traded this off-season, the Patriots are missing a big chunk of last year’s strong front 7, so how they played defensively last week is concerning. The Patriots will also be without tight end Rob Gronkowski and wide receiver Chris Hogan with injuries in this one. Gronk’s injury is obviously the more important one and he’ll miss at least this week with a chest injury.

All that being said, the Patriots get about as soft of a landing spot after last week’s loss as possible with this trip to San Francisco. The 49ers enter the game 31st in both first down rate differential and point differential, only ahead of the Browns in both categories. They also lead the league in double digit losses with 7 and their average margin of defeat is 15.5, so the Patriots don’t even really have to play that well to cover this line. The Patriots’ defense has issues, but their offense has been incredible this season, even in last week’s loss. On the season, they rank 4th in first down rate and 2nd in first down rate percentage, despite being without Tom Brady for the first 4 games of the season with suspension. Since returning, Brady has played better than any quarterback in the league and the Patriots figure to have a big offensive performance once again this week, even without Gronkowski.

The Patriots are also in a much better spot than the 49ers, as they have an easy game on deck, a trip to New York to face the Jets, while the 49ers go to Miami, which isn’t easy. The early line has the Patriots as 9 point favorites in New York, while the 49ers are 8 point underdogs in Miami. Underdogs of 6 or more are 48-76 ATS since 2012 before being underdogs of 6 or more again, while favorites of 6 or more are 89-50 ATS since 2012 before being favorites of 6 or more again. Combining the two, favorites of 6 or more are 7-31 ATS before being favorites of 6 or more again, when their opponent will next be underdogs of 6 or more again. The Patriots are also 45-24 ATS off of a loss in the Bill Belichick era (since 2010). The Patriots are battling some adversity right now, but this game still has blowout written all over it.

New England Patriots 31 San Francisco 49ers 13

Pick against the spread: New England -12.5

Confidence: Medium

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