It is the farewell game for Candlestick as our attention turns to San Francisco for the last instalment of MNF in 2013. When scheduling was done prior to the season, I think they were expecting that this game was going to have important implications as far as the playoffs are concerned. Unfortunately for the Falcons they didn’t fulfill their end of the bargain, heading into tonight with a pitiful record of 4-10, they are also 1-6 on the road this season. The 49ers are looking to secure a position in the postseason, against a Falcons team that has never been this bad in the Matt Ryan era. Colin Kaepernick felt the heat early in the season after a shaky start, but I think some of his haters have backed off as he has quietly led the ‘Niners into a position where they could turn a few heads in the playoffs. It feels like in a way they will be playing the underdog role in this capacity. However, with Michael Crabtree healthy in the receiving core, I don’t think you can call them underdogs at this juncture. The 49ers now have a unit that features Anquan Boldin, Crabtree, and Vernon Davis for Kaepernick to target. So, you can’t discount them in January.
Solid day and night of football for me yesterday, finishing the day off with a clean sweep of the NFL card, 3-0. Another winning week is guaranteed in that regard, and now we’re looking for a sweep of week 16. I tend to play week 17 lightly with some games, considering many have nothing to play for and are just gearing up for the playoffs, so let’s hit a big winner for MNF.
Falcons vs. 49ers Betting Odds:
Atlanta Falcons +14(-110)
@Baltimore Ravens -14(-110)
Betting odds provided by Bovada.lv
Falcons vs. 49ers Pick:
The Falcons are still equipped with Matt Ryan and Roddy White, so one would think the Falcons wouldn’t have fallen this far off the map. Once Julio Jones went down it seemed like the world came crumbling down for Atlanta. They can make all the excuses they want with the injuries on the offense, but quite frankly, they weren’t going anywhere with this defense. The Falcons have the 29th ranked defense in the NFL and are giving up 28 points per game. You may argue that in the NFL today defense that bad can give you a playoff spot, correct, but for the D to be that porous you need to have an elite offense. The Falcon offense is still good minus Julio Jones, but not quite great and elite. They are pretty bad in both areas, against the run and pass, but they are especially bad against the run. Against this 49ers’ running game they should have some trouble trying to contain it effectively.
Given the return of Michael Crabtree, the offense is elevated to another level. The Kaepernick to Crabtree connection is a large reason for why San Fran was in the Super Bowl last season. Both Crabtree and Kaepernick benefit from each others presence, as Crabtree didn’t show this much with Alex Smith at quarterback. As a result, the running game improves as well. The 49ers are 5th in the NFL there, spearheaded by Frank Gore at the running back position. The strong between the tackle runner has had himself a pretty productive 2013, rushing for 1,017 yards and 8 touchdowns. He hasn’t gotten much recognition, but he most definitely deserves it, as I think he is the most important player on the Niner offense. The passing game is all the way back in 31st for the 49ers, but again, it will improve drastically as Crabtree and Kaepernick get more comfortable. And against this defense of the Falcons, I think they’ll get into quite the rhythm on MNF. The 49ers’ offense is averaging a solid 25 points per game.
San Francisco will be going for the jugular in this game, and I can see them piling up the points on this abysmal defensive unit. The offense has shown flashes of last year this season, and other times have looked lost. Tonight I think we will see the offense of the Super Bowl team with Crabtree injected into the lineup. The line of -14 is large, and while I think the 49ers can cover it, I am scared of the backdoor cover in this game. The Falcons still have a passing game with Ryan leading the way, ranked 8th in the NFL, there has been virtually no running room, so I think they’ll air it out often. I see the 49ers getting on the board early, forcing the Falcons to throw the ball around. With the total at 46, I like the OVER in this spot, the ‘Niners may flirt with 35-40 points when it is all said and done Monday night.
PICK: OVER 46(-110)