On the heels of an epic win in New Orleans last week, the San Francisco 49ers will look to avoid a letdown this week when they host the Atlanta Falcons. Oddsmakers list the 49ers as 11-point favorites at home with an over/under of 47.5 points.
Before orchestrating a last-minute drive and winning on a last-second field goal against the Saints, the 49ers were staring down the barrel of back-to-back losses. However, things are suddenly looking up for San Francisco after winning in New Orleans and watching the Seahawks lose in Week 14 as well. The 49ers now control their own destiny and can wrap up home-field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs if they win out. Of course, with three 10-3 teams on their heels, there still isn’t much margin for error.
Meanwhile, the Falcons are quietly coming on strong late in the year, even though it’s too little and too late. Atlanta has won three of their last five games, including a 40-20 win over the Panthers last week. Head coach Dan Quinn has spent most of the year on the hot seat, but the Falcons clearly haven’t quit on him, which is always a good sign.
The Ice Man
Things haven’t gone well for Atlanta this year, but Matt Ryan has proven that he’s still capable of playing at a high level. He’s a little more turnover prone than we’re used to seeing, but Ryan has thrown for over 300 yards in three of his last four games. He and Julio Jones are still a dangerous tandem, although the Atlanta passing attack will take a hit with Calvin Ridley suffering a season-ending injury last week.
Ryan and company will take a crack at a San Francisco defense that looked vulnerable last week after a season of dominating teams. The 49ers gave up 349 passing yards and five touchdowns to Drew Brees on Sunday while also failing to register a sack. It helps that New Orleans has a reliable running game and steady offensive line, two things the Falcons are lacking. Nevertheless, it’s a sign of hope that Ryan and Jones might be able to do some damage.
The Jimmy G Show
For large stretches of the season, teams facing the 49ers have tried to force Jimmy Garoppolo to beat them. Despite some ups and downs, Garoppolo answered the call last week, matching Brees with 349 passing yards and throwing four touchdown passes. With George Kittle appearing healthy again and Emmanuel Sanders coming over midseason, the San Francisco passing attack can be quite potent at times.
On top of that, the Atlanta defense also has to worry about a rushing attack that features three capable running backs. Raheem Mostert is the flavor of the week in San Francisco’s backfield, but Matt Breida and Tevin Coleman are also capable playmakers. With Garoppolo and the passing game looking more like a threat these days, an Atlanta defense that has struggled most of the season could have their hands full.
Prepare for Total Domination
After challenging games against quality teams, the 49ers should be able to relax a little against a weaker opponent this week. San Francisco knows they can’t afford a letdown, and if they bring their best effort, they should dominate the Falcons on both sides of the ball. Bet on the 49ers covering the 11-point spread against the Falcons. Take the 49ers over the Falcons at RealBookies.com, our favorite PayPerHead bookie site.
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