- The San Francisco 49ers are 5-7 ATS in 2020
- Six of the past eight Washington games have seen 43 points or less scored
No matter how you boil this game down, the conversation comes back to the running backs on both sides. Can the Washington Football Team backs of JD McKissic and Peyton Barber compensate for the loss of rookie Antonio Gibson? Equally can the Washington defense keep the 49ers committee of backs under control?
Focusing first on the 49ers, who are matching up with a Washington defense that ranks 11th against the run and fourth against the pass. If Washington can force the 49ers to lean on their passing game they can look to take advantage of a passing game that has thrown the third-most interceptions. If the 49ers run game can control the ball and the clock, Washington does not have an offense than can strike efficiently enough to stay in the game.
Washington ranks 25th in points scored per drive, and 27th in yards per drive. They also rank 26th and 18th in third-down and red-zone conversion rates respectively. Without their rookie running back to control the offense, they will need to rely on the likes of McKissic and Logan Thomas as quick strike options in the passing game.
The problem there is that the 49ers have been the best team against the tight end this season, allowing just 378 yards and three touchdowns to the position. That will transition the pressure to McKissic, who is an accomplished receiving back, especially if Barber and the run game cannot find traction against the fourth-best run defense in the league.
Washington’s defense will give them every chance in this game but stopping the run and controlling the line of scrimmage will be key. They did that superbly against the Pittsburgh Steelers on Monday, although the 49ers run game is a much tougher proposition than the Steelers.
I expect this game to be a tight, low-scoring affair, meaning that my preference would be towards the underdog and the under. This is a really tough game to call, especially with the added element of this being a neutral site game and Washington having played Monday in Week 13.
NFL Expert Picks
1u – Washington Football Team +3 @ -103
1u – Under 43.5 points @ -110
NFL Free Picks
Week 14 gets underway tonight with a Thursday Night Football clash between the Patriots and the Rams. We have another chance to see Bill Belichick face off with Sean McVay. The gameweek ends with that huge divisional clash between the Cleveland Browns and Baltimore Ravens on Monday Night Football that we're all waiting for! In between we have a full slate of games, with a number of divisional games and big matchups. Elsewhere we're set to see Jalen Hurts first start for the Philadelphia Eagles who have announced him as the starter this week.
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