Cincinnati Bengals (10-3 SU, 10-2 ATS) vs. San Francisco 49ers (4-9 SU, 6-7 ATS)
NFL Week 15
Date/Time : 12/20/15 4:25 PM ET
Where : Levis Stadium, Santa Clara, CA
by Keith, NFL Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: CIN 4.5/SF +4.5
Over/Under Total: 40.5
After losing Andy Dalton with a fractured thumb, the Bengals are officially on the ropes. Since getting off to an 8-0 start, the Bengals have gone 2-3 in their last five and the loss of their starting quarterback is likely to aggravate the situation that much more, as the Steelers are quickly riding up the heels of the Bengals, vying for the AFC North.
In addition to the changes in their starting complement, the Bengals may actually enter this fixture unprepared. San Francisco as a team has been reduced to ashes, culminating in the quarterback crisis that left Colin Kaepernick benched for defacto starter Blaine Gabbert. Gabbert has excelled since taking the reigns but the 49ers have won just one game in their last four outings and that sole victory came against another disenfranchised squad, the Chicago Bears. Needless to say, overtime was required for San Francisco to earn the victory but nonetheless the 49ers appear to be a cupcake ready for the Bengals to snack on. As mentioned, the Bengals may be caught sleeping on the 49ers as they might carelessly look ahead to a huge match-up on the road against the Broncos in week 16 and a season finale against the hated Baltimore Ravens. This narrative once again sets up for San Francisco to emerge as a quality play.
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San Francisco will come in to this game free-rolling. The 49ers have nothing to lose and will likely take many risks and play with reckless abandon. While the gambles may not payoff, the 49ers are still a dangerous team to face. The pressure component resides solely with Cincinnati. Cincinnati as we have covered is fighting for a playoff berth, divisional title and possible first round bye if circumstances align on their side. San Francisco has no post-season to play for and in all likelihood many of their inexperienced personnel will see an enhanced amount of playing time. In light of this, many of these players will have much to prove and will hope to make a splash by making a big play with whatever opportunities they acquire. Doing so against a vulnerable playoff contender is the perfect venue.
Some suggest that San Franciscos porous defensive front will fall prey to the rushing attack of Cincinnati. Many prognosticate that the 49ers will see a heavy dose of Jeremy Hill, complemented by a dash of Giovanni Bernard. The 49ers will likely develop their gameplan around this and will likely stack the box to force second year quarterback A.J McCarron to throw the ball. McCarron has weapons, most notably University of Georgia standout A.J Green. Green has been brilliant, posting typical numbers that have earned him mention in the elite category of wide receivers in the game. In addition, Tyler Eiffert has emerged as a solid option at tight end but his chemistry with McCarron is to be determined. McCarrons big game experience in the NFL is virtually a clean slate and how he handles the pressure at this level is a nebulous narrative that will cause us to stay clear of playing on Cincinnati. Regardless of the precepts, much of the public feels otherwise but we affirm that the Bengals are far too risky to play on this week.
The stage is set for Cincinnati to lay an egg. A playoff contending team with a divisional foe hot on their heels creates enough pressure in itself with a healthy team. Adding in a key injury to a signature player on the offense in Andy Dalton makes the situation all the more volatile for Cincinnati. San Francisco as we have mentioned will enter this game with nothing lose, motivated by pulling off a signature win of their own in front of their home crowd. The season for San Francisco has been disappointing as a whole and needless to say the lofty aspirations of the San Francisco faithful have been shattered by underachievement. A win against Cincinnati will provide a sense of consolation to both the 49ers team, staff and supporters and further fuel this team in to the 2016-17 season. For these reasons, we like San Francisco as a home dog and like the potential for the 49ers to pull off the upset outright. At the bare minimum taking back a decent set of points provides a lot of upside, well take San Francisco.
Keith Picks San Francisco +4.5 to Cover the Point Spread :< /b>
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