New England Patriots (7-2 SU, 7-2 ATS) vs. San Francisco 49ers (1-8 SU, 2-7 ATS)
Week 11 NFL
Date/Time: November 20, 2016 at 4:25PM EST
Where: Levi's Stadium, Santa Clara, California
By Loot, NFL Football Handicapper, Lootmeister.com
Betting Odds: NE -13/SF +13
Over/Under Total: 51
The New England Patriots come to Levi's Stadium on Sunday to face the San Francisco 49ers. New England lost for the second time last week and the first time under Tom Brady with a 31-24 loss on Sunday Night Football to the Seattle Seahawks. They look to bounce back on the road this week against a team they're roundly expected to beat in the spiraling San Francisco 49ers—losers of 8 in a row. On Sunday, San Fran was gallant in a 3-point loss to Arizona, covering the spread for the first time since a week one win. Who can cover the big spread this week?
The Niners is in a lot of trouble, but they know the season is a loss in terms of anything having to do with the postseason. So they're at terms with it as they now just try to latch onto something positive. The offense has gotten a boost by the re-insertion of Colin Kaepernick behind center. On Sunday against the Cardinals on the road, he threw a TD pass, while running for another one and there is generally more life on this offense with Kap in there. He hit Jeremy Kerley for a TD, as Kerley caught 7 passes. Quinton Patton and Vance McDonald were also able to produce, as we see Kaepernick bringing more pieces into the fold in an effort to get this offense cooking. It's not easy, as they are threadbare in the playmaking department. Carlos Hyde, banged up more often than not, could come around, but he really hasn't been a consistent performer in this offense. Torrey Smith, a solid contributor with Baltimore, has disappeared in this offense. It's a disheartening situation, as Chip Kelly's offensive vision has yet to take hold in Frisco. At the end of the day, it's the 29th ranked offense in the league. And in aerial offense, they're ranked 30th.
We've seen San Fran teams prosper before without much offense, but that's when they had a stout, smothering, and playmaking defense that bridged the gap. Well, that "D" is long gone, with barely a vestige of their prior strength remaining. As of this week, they rank 32nd (dead last) in total defense, points allowed and run-defense. Their secondary has played well despite all the dysfunction surrounding them. But it's a defense that gives up a ton. Sunday's 23-point allowance to the Cardinals was a positive development for a unit that hasn't had much in the way of anything good happening. But still, it's a major team liability. And the thought of an irritated New England offense going against this group is a cause for major concern. To cover the number, the Niners will need to somehow prevent a full Patriots offensive onslaught.
The Pats had chances to win on Sunday night against the Seahawks. Late in the game and down by seven, they had first and goal up close and couldn't punch it in for the game-winning score. Still, at 7-2 and with what looks to be a sure-win this weekend, they have a stranglehold on the division and an inside track for home-field in the playoffs. Still, after covering four straight spreads since Brady's return and following a bye week, losing at home was a concern. Look for the Pats to be pining to get back on the winning track. And that could be trouble for the beleaguered Niners.
Brady wasn't bad on Sunday, but the strong Seattle secondary definitely slowed him down some. He still connected on 23 of 32 passes for 316 yards. But no touchdowns and a pick were uncharacteristic for a typical Brady stat-line. Martellus Bennett and Julian Edelman had big days, but Rob Gronkowski was lost with a chest injury and is listed as questionable for this game. The seriousness of the injury has been downplayed, so maybe it's not a big deal. But we've seen the New England offense without Gronk or with a compromised version of him and while it's just a tight end, the difference is staggering. We'll keep an eye on his progress heading into this matchup. But let's face it, to beat SF, they don't really need to be in an ideal condition health-wise. They still have more than enough to hack the ramshackle SF defense. On Sunday, LeGarrette Blount scored three times, as the Patriots offense is a well-balanced one that can get you in a variety of different ways.
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The New England defense is hardly invulnerable. They're ranked 19th against the pass and 14th against the run. That's not terribly impressive until you see they're 6th in points allowed at just 18 a game. They're a pretty clutch group, usually at their best in the most crucial of situations. Still, the pass rush has ebbed some and that was evident as the front seven struggled against the sometimes-dicey Seattle O-line on Sunday. There are good players across all phases of the "D," but they can be exploited and when needing to cover a big number, that doesn't help.
Still, there's a lot of truth in the first impression and when looking at this matchup, one shudders to imagine the possibilities and how those certainly don't favor the Niners. Best case scenario, Frisco can hang in there and give a good account of themselves and keep the score in the 10-point range. But when that's the best you can imagine, there are a lot of other scenarios that don't favor them. And most of those point to a conclusive New England win by a hefty number. I'm taking the road fave.
Loot's Prediction to Cover the Point Spread: I'm betting on the New England Patriots minus 13 points. Tired of your credit card not working for sportsbook deposit? End that problem today by signing up and betting the New England vs. San Francisco game at Bovada Sportsbook where your credit card WILL work and where you'll receive a generous 100% sign-up bonus!