The New England Patriots (10-3) certainly sent a message by annihilating the top seeded Houston Texans on Monday night, and now they will look to make a second statement in as many weeks vs. the San Francisco 49ers (9-3-1) out of the NFC, which may not be as easy.
The line on this game is as much a story as the game itself, as the Patriots were -3 on Monday afternoon. One 42-14 win over an 11-1 top seed in the AFC later and New England sailed up to -6 and even -6½ in some spots! The Pats have now settled as -5 favorites at home, with the total set at 46½.
1. Why San Francisco will cover the spread: Two keys to San Francisco covering this spread are two things that Houston could not do on Monday, with those being applying pressure on Tom Brady and establishing the run early. It looked like the Texans would be able to do both of those things on paper, but the difference here is that the 49ers have done it vs. a tougher NFC schedule. San Francisco ranks second in the NFL in rushing offense with 161.5 yards per game on a nice 5.3 yards per carry, and they have an added dimension that New England is not used to facing in a running quarterback in Colin Kaepernick. The Niners also rank second in the NFL in passing defense at just 184.7 yards per game on only 5.4 yards per attempt, and they are seventh with 32 sacks.
2. Why New England will cover the spread: Much like Monday night, two keys to a New England cover here are running the ball effectively and controlling the San Francisco run. Sure Brady was great, but his job was made easier by New England rushing for 130 yards, and the Pats held the vaunted Houston rushing attack to 3.7 yards per carry. If the Patriots aren’t at least mildly effective running the pigskin, even Brady could have trouble picking apart the Niners’ defense if he throws practically every down.
3. Total Talk: The Texans have now been blown out by the only two elite teams they have faced this year with the Packers being the other. The difference here is that the 49ers have already shut down Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay offense and they are more battle tested vs. the more physical teams in the NFC. With all of that being said, we have just slight leans to the ‘under’ and to the 49ers at the current +5, as we think Brady over Kaepernick will make the difference in a close game. Just do not expect the Patriots to score at will once again.
4. Betting Trends for Patriots/49ers: The 49ers are 22-9-1 ATS in their last 32 games overall and 9-4 ATS in their last 13 vs. teams with winning records. The Patriots are 1-4 ATS in their last five games after allowing less than 15 points in their previous game.
New England 24 – San Francisco 20
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