San Francisco 49ers (7-2-1 SU, 6-4 ATS) vs. New Orleans Saints (5-5 SU, 6-4 ATS)
NFL Week 12
Date/Time: Sunday, November 25th, 2012, 4:25 p.m. EST
Where: Mercedes-Benz Superdome, New Orleans, La.
TV: Fox/DirecTV 714
by Badger, Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: SF OFF/NO OFF
Over/Under Total: OFF
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Two of the elite teams in the NFC will clash in what looks to be the best game on the whole Sunday card when the San Francisco 49ers travel to the Superdome to take on the New Orleans Saints in week 12 action on Fox.
The 49ers are coming off a highly impressive victory over the Chicago Bears on Monday Night Football, 32-7, that sort of reanointed them as the team to beat in the NFC playoff chase. Backup quarterback Colin Kaepernick looked like an All-Pro in his first-ever career start, throwing for 243 yards and two scores without a single mistake as the 49ers embarrassed the Bears and turned what many expected to be a dull game into a rout.
But a funny thing happened as a result of the 49ers lopsided win a full-blown quarterback controversy. Now there are many in San Francisco, even many inside the 49ers locker room, that are calling for Kaepernick to replace starter Alex Smith even when Smith is finally cleared to play following his concussion.
Whomever lines up behind center for the Niners, they’ll likely have to score a lot of points on Sunday since it appears the New Orleans Saints and their QB Drew Brees are back. The Saints have won three in a row and five of their last six games to get back into the thick of the NFC playoff hunt following last week’s, 38-17, victory on the road in Oakland.
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Since there has yet to be a peep out of San Francisco as to who it will be, Smith or Kaepernick, the folks out in Las Vegas have yet to release a point spread or total for this game.
Regardless of who starts at QB for the 49ers, two things will still remain constant they will continue to pound the ball behind a powerful offensive line, and they’ll make Brees and the Saints earn every inch with one of the NFL’s best defenses.
San Francisco runs for over 165 yards a game on the ground, the second-best mark in the NFL, and considering the Saints have had issues stopping the run all season long (allowing 158 ypg - worst in the NFL) we could be looking at a huge day for Frank Gore and whoever else they want to hand the ball off to on Sunday.
The 49ers defense is top-10 across the board, including leading the NFL in scoring by allowing just 13 points a game through 10 games. They bring a relentless pass rush with Aldon Smith and Justin Smith off the edge, they have probably the fastest and best middle linebacker duo in the league in Patrick Willis and NaVorro Bowman, and their secondary is ranked 2nd in the league allowing just 183 yards a game in the air there really are no weaknesses or areas for the Saints to exploit.
Considering the Saints offense is very one-dimensional (296 ypg passing - 95 ypg rushing), if the Saints don’t do a good job of protecting Brees it could become another ugly game with Brees picking himself up off the carpet repeatedly. New Orleans does have a few areas where they can find mismatches, namely tight end Jimmy Graham and Marques Colston in the slot, but the windows will be tight and the opportunities will come fast even if they can protect Brees.
The last time these two met on the field came in last year’s NFC Divisional playoffs, in a, 36-32, 49ers victory when Smith found TE Vernon Davis for the game-winning score with only nine second to play. The game featured four touchdowns in the final four minutes and almost 900 yards of total offense, causing it to soar way over the closing total of 47.
Prior to the Niners winning that playoff game, the Saints actually won six straight games against San Francisco going back to the 2002 season, going 4-2 ATS during that stretch as well.
Surprisingly, the under is actually 7-2-2 in the last 11 head-to-head meeting played in the Superdome. The under is also 15-2-2 in the 49ers last 19 games on fieldturf.
Badger’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: Defense will be the deciding factor in this game. I’m betting the Niners at -1!
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