- The Bills rank last in the NFL in rushing success rate allowed for the season
We’ve had some questionable Monday night matchups of late, but this one should be exciting. Two of the brightest coaches in the league square off as Sean McDermott brings his forward-thinking Bills west to face Kyle Shanahan’s 49ers, who have been displaced to Arizona where this game will be played due to COVID restrictions in their home state of California.
The 49ers are still a pretty banged up team, but they are getting healthier. Deebo Samuel caught 11 of 13 targets for 133 yards last week and is back up to speed, and he’ll be joined here by rookie first-round pick Brandon Aiyuk, who missed last week on the reserve/COVID-19 list. Though he’s been in and out of the lineup, Aiyuk has averaged 10 targets, 7 receptions, and 94 receiving yards over the past three games he’s suited up for, with a pair of touchdowns in that span. The 49ers are still without George Kittle and quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, but their passing game will be more explosive than it has been of late just by being able to pair Samuel and Aiyuk together.
Their backfield has also gotten healthier, as Raheem Mostert and Jeff Wilson both returned last week alongside Jerick McKinnon, and Tevin Coleman is also off the injury report. It will be interesting to see who the 49ers suit up at running back, but they have more healthy depth there than they’ve had in months.
Meanwhile, the Bills have stayed reasonably healthy all season, though they’ll be without wideout John Brown again this week. Josh Allen is also a little banged up, but he’ll play. The question is how effective he’ll be without Brown, though he’ll still have top target Stefon Diggs and secondary weapons Cole Beasley and Gabriel Davis.
The line in this game opened with the Bills favored by 2.5 points, but has moved to San Francisco -1. Given that this is essentially a neutral site game — it’s a lot longer of a trip for the Bills than the 49ers, but neither team is in their home city — the market is really buying into San Francisco.
And it makes sense. San Francisco has thrived even without Garoppolo on the strength of misdirection and a passing approach predicated on short passes and yards after the catch. Buffalo’s run defense has struggled at times, notably ranking 25th in success rate allowed on running plays over the past six weeks and dead last for the season. Teams that have really committed to a ground attack like the Chiefs, Patriots, and Cardinals have given them fits defensively.
But the Bills have plus matchups, too, particularly if they continue their high early down passing rate. While the 49ers have mostly kept things together defensively, injuries have started to catch up to them, and they’ve been below average in success rate against the pass over the past six weeks, ranking 22nd in the league. This should be a fun one, and I’m expecting both offenses to find ways to put up points. It’s always fun when the numbers tell you to take the over and root for the shootout.
NFL Expert Picks
Over 48 @ -105
NFL Free Picks
Week 13 saw a number of divisional clashes with the Saints and Falcons, Colts and Texans, and Rams and Cardinals meeting on Sunday. Sunday Night Football gave us a back-and-forth game between the Chiefs and Broncos, and tonight we get two games, with the Washington Football Team's trip to Pittsburgh ahead of the Bills vs. 49ers meeting on Monday Night Football. We get bonus football again on Tuesday with the Ravens welcoming the Cowboys to M&T Bank Stadium.
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