On the heels of an utterly amazing win last week, the San Francisco 49ers will try to avoid a letdown in Week 15 when they host the Atlanta Falcons. Game time is set for 4:25 EST on Sunday, December 15 at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, California. Fans in Northern California and the Pacific Northwest, as well as those in the Atlanta area, will be able to watch the game on Fox.
Oddsmakers list the 49ers as 11-point favorites at home with an over/under of 47.5 points. Click here to get the latest betting odds for all of this week’s NFL games.
As mentioned, the 49ers were involved in possibly the most entertaining game of the year last week. More importantly, they came away winners, getting a last-second field goal to beat the Saints 48-46 in the Superdome. Coming off a loss the previous week against the Ravens, it was an important win for San Francisco, who has now won three of their last four games since suffering their first loss of the season.
Alas, the hard part isn’t yet over for the 49ers. They hold just a one-game lead over the Seahawks in the NFC West. They also have to go to Seattle in Week 17 after losing to the Seahawks earlier this season. San Francisco could lose the division and have to settle for a Wild Card spot if the Seahawks win out. On the bright side, the 11-2 49ers are in the driver’s seat for home-field advantage in the NFC playoffs. But with a trio of 10-3 teams breathing down their neck, the 49ers need to keep winning if they want the road to the Super Bowl to go through Silicon Valley.
Meanwhile, the Falcons continue to play a little better during the second half of the season. Atlanta dominated the Panthers last week, winning 40-20 to notch their third win in their last five games. That stretch also includes a road win over the Saints, indicating that the Falcons haven’t given up on the season and are capable of beating quality teams.
Of course, Atlanta has nothing on the line at this point in the season. At 4-9, the Falcons are already guaranteed a losing record. They are even a game back of the Panthers for last place in the NFC South. Nevertheless, the team is still playing hard for head coach Dan Quinn, who has spent virtually the entire season on the hot seat and whose job status after the season is yet to be determined.
The Falcons aren’t the pushover they were at times during the first half of the season. But they are still a team with considerable flaws going on the road against one of the most complete teams in football. The 49ers know they can’t afford to take their foot off the gas, so I’m inclined to think they’ll take care of business against a lesser team and cover the spread.
One of Atlanta’s biggest flaws remains the offensive line, which makes it difficult for the offense to get in a rhythm. The Falcons managed to limit Carolina’s top-notch pass rush to just one sack last week. However, they are just two weeks removed from allowing nine sacks against the Saints on Thanksgiving. The game before that, Matt Ryan was sacked six times against the Bucs.
Meanwhile, the San Francisco defense eats weak offensive lines for breakfast. Even with Dee Ford banged up, the 49ers are loaded with talent along the defensive line. Arik Armstead and Nick Bosa have combined for 18 sacks this season to lead the charge. With running back Devonta Freeman being questionable, the Falcons may not be able to establish the kind of running game that can at least slow down San Francisco’s pass rushers. If Armstead and Bosa are allowed to tee-off on Ryan in obvious passing situations, it could be a long day for the Atlanta offense.
Defensively, the Falcons could have just as many problems in this game. They’ve conceded at least 20 points in 11 of their 13 games this season, so it’s been a rare occasion that they’ve managed to hold teams in check. Specifically, the Atlanta run defense is average at best. That’s a huge concern against Raheem Mostert, who is averaging six yards per carry on the season and has had some of his best games of the season the past two weeks. Matt Breida also returned from injury last week and made an immediate impact.
If the San Francisco running game weren’t enough, the 49ers have also shown flashes of brilliance in the passing game. Jimmy Garoppolo has 11 touchdown passes in his last four games, including four last week against the Saints. Rookie Deebo Samuel is coming along late in the season, and with Emmanuel Sanders added to the mix, the 49ers finally have some outside threats to complement tight end George Kittle.
To be honest, there is some concern about a letdown from the 49ers in this game coming off such a big win. But if they play anywhere close to their full potential, they shouldn’t have a problem. The 49ers have seven double-digit wins this season, and against the lowly Falcons, this is a good time to take San Francisco to cover a big spread.