San Francisco 49ers vs. New England Patriots Pick ATS
San Francisco 49ers (3-3 SU, 3-3 ATS) vs. New England Patriots (2-3 SU, 2-3 ATS)
Date/Time: Sunday, October 25th, 4:25 PM
Where: Gillette Stadium, Foxboro, MA
Point Spread: SF +2 / NE -2 (Bovada - Best Live Betting BAR NONE! + 50% Bonus! Credit cards work there for deposits! Rebates on your action; win, lose or draw!)
Over/Under Total: 44
The San Francisco 49ers head east to take on the New England Patriots for a late Sunday afternoon showdown at Gillette Stadium. The 49ers had the upper hand in the series up until 1995, going 7-1, but since it’s been the Patriots who have had the edge, going 5-1 including a 4-1 mark under head coach Bill Belichick.
San Fran comes into the week off a big win against the Rams that stopped a two-game losing streak. The 49ers still find themselves in sole possession of last place in the NFC West and facing a tough slate of games over the next section of the schedule, with road trips to play the Seahawks, Saints, and Rams and home matchups versus the Packers and Bills awaiting them after the Patriots this week. Thankfully all hope is not lost, as they at least seem to regain some stability in the quarterback department after a strong game by Jimmy Garoppolo against the Rams.
BOOST BY BENCHING
Garoppolo was removed after poor play in the 49ers blowout loss against Miami that cost many in knockout pools while also destroying countless teases throughout sportsbooks. The former Patriots and Tom Brady backup responded well against the Rams and on the season has thrown for seven touchdowns compared to only two interceptions. After his fourth-quarter meltdown against the Chiefs in last year’s Super Bowl, it became obvious that Garoppolo is not the superstar quarterback some expected him to be after starting off with a run of wins for the 49ers, but the job appears to be securely enough his for now over Nick Mullens. No matter who is starting at the position for the team, they will undoubtedly be relied upon more in coming weeks with the San Francisco offense continuing to deal with a rash of seemingly non-stop injuries.
The 49ers skill position players have been hit hard all year with injuries, losing wide receivers Tavon Austin and Jalen Hurd before the season even began, and since running back Tevin Coleman and tight end Jordan Reed to I.R. Now running back Jeff Wilson is questionable for Sunday and more importantly, starting running back Raheem Mostert has been placed on I.R. due to a high ankle sprain. For the backfield, this leaves just Jerick McKinnon, who is a capable enough running back but is also one of the most higher risk players in the league, having missed the entire two previous seasons due to major knee injuries. McKinnon has scored three touchdowns on the season and has rushed for 211 yards with a 5.1 yards per average while also catching 17 passes for 117 yards, but how long he can withstand the increased playing time remains to be seen.
KITTLE AND BITS
Belichick heaped high praise on 49ers tight end George Kittle this week, calling him ‘as good as anybody that I’ve ever coached.’ It’s easy to see why considering Kittle is already 1a and 1b with Travis Kelce in the upper echelon of tight ends, but what likely points him at the top is his ability to effectively block versus Kelce being a glorified wide receiver who routinely gets tossed around in blocking scenarios. He is also the only player on the 49ers with more than one receiving touchdown this season, and with all the injuries, has been relied upon even more in the passing game. Unfortunately, in the past, when that has happened too much, it hasn’t gone well for San Francisco, as they are 0-4 over Kittle’s career when he has nine or more receptions in a game. There are four other players behind Kittle that are also viable options in the passing game and could see more looks than usual with the amount of attention Kittle is likely to command in the Patriots usual strategy of trying to limit the opposing teams’ best asset; wide receivers Kendrick Bourne, Brandon Aiyuk and Deebo Samuel along with fragile running back Jerick McKinnon.
No matter how effective the Patriots are against George Kittle, they’ll still need to get their offense out of neutral if they want to have a chance this week. New England has only scored two touchdowns over their last two games, and things seemed to bottom out against the Broncos, not having looked as all around inept since the Everclear stage diving game against the Buccaneers in 1997. The Patriots are definitely a detailed oriented, practice driven team, and the many ones missed due to the run of COVID had an undeniable effect on their performance. But that excuse can only game so far to cover their terribleness a week ago, and if they want to salvage their shot at another AFC East title, they will need to get their offense unstuck from neutral. Especially with games against the Bills, Ravens, and Cardinals amongst the teams awaiting them in November
SUCCESS DESPITE SETBACKS
Cam Newton and the Patriots face a tough test this week against a San Francisco defense that ranks 5th in the league in passing and total yards allowed and 10th in scoring and rushing. This is made entirely more impressive, considering the 49ers are without some of their top talents due to injury in Nick Bosa, Solomon Thomas, Dee Ford, and Richard Sherman. How the Patriots can take advantage of this remains to be seen, as offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels seems lost without Tom Brady. Whatever early success he was able to find calling plays around Cam Newton appears to be a distant memory.
Who can possibly step up in the passing game, other than running back James White, remains to be seen. Julian Edelman continues his deep decline slide, now having posted just seven receptions over his past three games while also leading the league in drops with eleven. Cam Newton had more receptions (1) last week than N’Keal Harry, and the tight end position other than Ryan Izzo is non-existent. Damiere Byrd now appears to be the most reliable of the wideouts, but they will desperately need someone else to step up if they want to make a season of this. The first step will be getting into the endzone, as their three touchdown receptions as a team rank tied for last in the NFL.
With the Patriots passing attack struggling, opposing defenses have started finding success loading up against the run. This is an obvious issue for New England as running the ball has been the most potent part of their offense (despite last week’s terribleness, they still rank second in the NFL with an average of 167.2 rushing yards per game). They cannot just rely on Cam Newton to be the only consistently effective runner on the team. Last week Damien Harris, Rex Burkhead, and James White combined to rush for 41 yards on 15 carries, and regardless of many defenders they see up front, they will have to find more success or else the offense as a whole will continue to be a shell of its former self.
THE FINAL DECISION
The line for this game opened at 5.5, but after San Francisco easily handled the Rams and the Patriots awful showing against the Broncos, it started falling and has since settled at 2. All behind the scenes information indicate that Bill Belichick was a huge fan of Jimmy Garoppolo during his four years in Foxboro before being traded to San Francisco. This also means that the Patriots’ coaching staff knows a great deal about the 49ers now signal-caller, and I believe that additional edge is what could be one of the biggest deciding variables this weekend. In what I expect to be a low scoring game, I will be backing a Patriots team and a head coach that has historically responded well to losses. Additionally, they now find themselves with their season almost on the line with a losing record in October for the first time since 2002 and a tough schedule awaiting them the rest of the way.
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