San Francisco 49ers vs. Green Bay Packers Pick
San Francisco 49ers (1-4 SU, 1-4 ATS) vs. Green Bay Packers (2-2-1 SU, 2-3 ATS)
NFL Football Week 6
Date and Time: October 15, 8:15pm ET
Where: Lambeau Field
By: Ted Walker, NFL Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: SF +9.5/GB -9.5
Over/Under Total: 46.5
I bet the Monday Night Football folks were happy with themselves when they signed up for Niners v. Packers before the season started. Just imagine the scene, an upstart San Fran team at 3-2, led by dark-horse MVP candidate Jimmy Garoppolo, heading into Lambeau to take on a 5-0 Green Bay squad that was a no-doubt playoff team. This game could have re-kindled a mini-rivalry that came from these teams meeting five times from 2012-2015. The Niners could have played spoiler like they did twice previously in past playoff games. That all could have happened and that scenario would have made for a great matchup this week but instead, these teams have have seen a rash of injuries limit their productivity and they enter Monday Night with just three total wins between them. Garoppolo is out for the season and Rodgers is out there on one good leg and neither teams looks like they are a candidate to meet pre-season expectations.
The NFL is a “next man up” situation every week but the injuries in San Francisco are the crippling kind. Alongside Jimmy G, Jerick McKinnon is on the IR and those two were going to be the offensive focal point this season. Matt Breida has filled in nicely for McKinnon, averaging 7.5 yards per rush but he is doubtful for Monday Night with a bad ankle. Alfred Morris is a capable veteran but is averaging just 3.7 yards per tote and what once was a top-5 rushing offense in San Fran is looking pretty pedestrian. C.J. Beathard has done well enough to keep the Niners close in the games since Garoppolo went down but Beathard is not a downfield thrower and has as many picks (4) as touchdown throws. Pierre Garcon, Marquise Goodwin and Dante Pettis are all listed as questionable, leaving SF very thin at wide receiver as well. As it is, this team was led in receiving by TE George Kittle (23/399/1) and FB Kyle Juszczyk (14/197/1) so the coverage task for Green Bay is not looking like a difficult one. That is a big help for a Packers secondary that is awfully beat up itself. Even with those injuries, Green Bay enters the game ranked 2nd in passing defense, allowing just 208 yards per contest. Both teams have injury woes but it looks like San Francisco has the worst of it.
How Bad Can It Get?
The Packers have seen a seasons-worth of odd things happen in just five games. An injury to their star and a wild comeback win in Week 1. A stunning defensive collapse leading to a tie in Week 2. Clay Matthews has more roughing the passer penalties than sacks and Mason Crosby just missed four field goals and an extra point in a game where Green Bay lost by eight. Through all the head-shaking moments, the Packers are still very much alive in their division and are still a top-10 passing offense with Rodgers looking healthier each week. Lost in the defeat to the Lions was the possible emergence of two young pass catchers for Green Bay. Marquez Valdes-Scantling and Equanimeous St. Brown were pressed into action with Randall Cobb and Geronimo Allison out and the rookies impressed with a combined 10 receptions for 157 yards with MV-S finding the endzone. Cobb and Allison remain on the injury report but it looks like the pas game will be just fine without them if last week was any indication. Davante Adams and Jimmy Graham haven’t lit up the league like many thought they might but those two are still probably the best skill guys on the field this weekend. With the Mike Pettine defense currently at 4th in total yards allowed and looking more comfortable each week, the Packers should be on the verge of making some things happen for themselves instead of shooting themselves in the foot.
With the Niner offense looking limited, a lot of pressure falls on the defensive side. They haven’t played poorly on defense with top-11 marks in rushing and total yards allowed but they playmaking is absent with only nine sacks to this point and their lone interception coming in Week 1. The lack of turnovers and negative plays has helped the opposing offense be very efficient and San Fran clocks in at 29th in points allowed at 29.2 per game. The Niner D also allows a 96 QB rating on average and that is not a good sign heading into Mr. Rodgers neighborhood.
Green Bay can further press what looks like a basic offensive advantage by being more versatile. Jamaal Williams gets the nod as the starting running back but Aaron Jones (6.1 ypc) and Ty Montgomery are the more elusive backs. Montgomery is one of five Packers pass catchers with at least a dozen receptions so far and Green Bay should have plenty of options available even if San Francisco finds a way to limit Adams. The vertical passing game has been mostly absent in Green Bay but the short-hitting stuff has helped the Packers average 32+ minutes in time of possession, giving their defense the time to recover and stay fresh. Mike McCarthy’s coaching seat is getting a little warm these days so don’t be surprised to see the Packers open things up at home.
You obviously would have loved to take Green Bay when this line opened at 7.5 points but I don’t think the extra two is enough to scare me off the Packers side. San Francisco has lost 7-of-10 against the spread against NFC opponents with Green Bay at 5-1 ATS in their last six at home against a sub-.500 opponent. The extra day helps the Packers injuries more as they stand to gain guys like DBs Kevin King, Kentrell Brice and Jaire Alexander. Right now, the two healthy wide receivers for the Niners – Trent Taylor and Kendrick Bourne – are both averaging less than eleven yards per catch. I just don’t see enough offense for San Fran to press the improving GB defense that now ranks 8th in QBR allowed. Rodgers missed a few passes last week but he is seldom inaccurate in back-to-back games and should improve his timing with those young receivers seeing first team reps in practice again. I don’t think there is a hangover for Crosby either and Green Bay stretches this one out in the second half to take a 27-16 win.
Your Name’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: Green Bay