Monday Night Football Handicapping Week 16

Monday Night Football Handicapping Week 16 – Atlanta at San Francisco

Line:  San Francisco 49ers -14  l  Total:  46

The San Francisco 49ers ( 10-4 SU / 10-4 ATS ) host the Atlanta Falcons ( 4-10 SU /5-9 ATS ) on Monday Night football December 23, 2013. ESPN carries the coverage live from Candlestick Park in San Francisco, CA.  Let’s chip-in with some brief thoughts and analysis in a fundamental mismatch at the point of attack.

The Falcons have flown further South this season and it’s been a free fall following their loss to San Francisco in last year’s NFC Championship game.  It seems they never recovered from blowing a 17-point lead in that contest.  This year has been a disaster, and it starts on offense where they have been unable to control the point of attack or establish a ground game. Atlanta runs the ball a league-low 20 times per game while the 49er’s run the ball a NFC-high 32 times per game. If either of those teams repeats those rushing numbers in this contest, it will increase their chances of winning ATS (49ers) or losing ATS (Falcons) dramatically.  If both occur, then there is a very strong chance San Francisco will be your SU/ATS winner. The 49ers will win the individual match-ups at the point of attack on both sides of the ball.  Note the Falcons have a pair of un-drafted rookie LBs in the lineup, and they will be forced to blitz more on defense and create turnovers while also protecting the ball if they want to stay competitive in this contest.

So while we may be paying a price for betting on the 49er’s, the reality is that betting line is warranted.  So too is the 49ers play and performance as they enter on a 9-2 SU and ATS run and covered their last two times as a double-digit favorite. Yet note that like other ‘bad’, losing teams like the Jaguars and Vikings ( both 4-1 ATS last five games ), Falcons have also cashed for their betting backers in three of their last four games while seemingly playing more competitively.  But the 49ers should be focused and ready tonight in likely the final game at Candlestick Park and following another Seahawks loss Sunday with the division title not yet lost and the wild card not yet secured.

San Francisco does play Arizona in week 17 with much on the line and non-division double-digit favorites have not fared well on MNF.  That’s why we’ll keep this recommendation as an opinion, but know that if the fundamentals play out at the line of scrimmage, the chances are good that the 49ers will be you’re SU and ATS winner Monday night.

Totals players note that following back-to-back record scoring weeks the past two weeks, totals tapered off and over/unders went 4-11 in week 16.  While the Falcons offense has been better the past month, note that when they traveled to face top-tier defenses at Arizona and Carolina the end of October and early November, Atlanta could generate just 13 and 10 points.  The 49ers defense is healthier and remains one of the best in the NFC allowing just 16 PPG and #3 in both total yards per game ( 301 ) and opponents points per play.  Aldon Smith’s recent return gives San Fran a dominant and destructive player along the line that can impact both running and passing plays.  Patrick Willis provides great strength at LB and the second level while stronger play at CB has allowed the 49ers to diversify coverage and it’s shown in their recent play and performances.  The 49ers have allowed just 14, 17, 13 and 6 points their last four games and the Falcons have only recently risen to an average offense for the season gaining 341 YPG at 5.4 yards per play.   Lone concern in laying a big number is that the Falcons offensive numbers are still stronger than the 49ers.


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Author: FairwayJay

FairwayJay is a leading national sports analyst and is recognized as one of the sports industry's most insightful handicappers and professionals. Follow him on Twitter: @FairwayJay