In a rematch of Super Bowl XLVII and a potential preview of the next Super Bowl, the San Francisco 49ers and Baltimore Ravens will cross paths in Week 13. Kickoff is at 1:00 EST on Sunday, December 1 at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore. A majority of the country will be able to watch the game on Fox.
The latest odds list the Ravens as 5.5-point favorites at home. The over/under for the game is set at 46.5 points. Click here to check out a full list of the Week 13 NFL odds.
Each week, the Ravens seem to prove more and more that they’re the best team in football. Since losing back-to-back games at the end of September, Baltimore has won seven in a row. Some of their most impressive wins have come in their last two games, a 41-7 thrashing of the Texans two weeks ago and a 45-6 road win against the Rams a week ago.
With five weeks left in the season, the Ravens hold a three-game lead atop the NFC North, so it would take a terrible collapse for Baltimore not to win a division title. However, the Ravens still trail the Patriots by a game for the best record in the AFC. Baltimore has the head-to-head advantage over New England, but they still need to keep winning and get a little help in order to earn home-field advantage in the AFC playoffs.
The 49ers, on the other hand, continue to hold the best record in the NFC. San Francisco stumbled on a Monday night against the Seahawks a few weeks ago and then had a close call with the Cardinals the following week. But the 49ers got back to dominating their opponents last week with a 37-8 win over the Packers.
San Francisco’s problem continues to be the Seahawks, who remain just a game back in the NFC West. Not only are both Seattle and New Orleans both a threat to take away their top seed, but the 49ers could easily fall to a Wild Card spot if they slip up late in the year. The 49ers also have a brutal schedule to finish the season, playing three of their final five games on the road against the Ravens, Saints, and Seahawks, teams that have combined for just six losses.
After the last two weeks, a 5.5-point spread for Baltimore seems like next to nothing. It also seems like a safe bet that they’ll be able to cover. But I still think the 49ers deserve the benefit of the doubt as underdogs. San Francisco has just one loss this season and it came by three points against another 9-2 team. As amazing as the Ravens have looked in recent weeks, I think the 49ers can at least make this a competitive game and beat the spread.
The biggest difference between the 49ers and every other team Baltimore has faced this year is that San Francisco’s defense is at another level. They made Aaron Rodgers look like a below-average quarterback last week, and there aren’t too many defenses over the past decade that have been able to say that. When they faced MVP candidate Russell Wilson and the Seahawks, the San Francisco defense was only guilty for giving up 17 of the 24 points the Seahawks scored in regulation. They also sacked Wilson five times in that game, proving that the San Francisco defense can get after mobile quarterbacks.
It’s also worth noting that the 49ers have faced Arizona’s Kyler Murray twice of the past month. Murray is probably the closest thing the NFL has to Lamar Jackson right now. Admittedly, Murray had a couple of solid outings against the San Francisco defense. However, the 49ers have at least faced a quarterback with speed and athleticism akin to Jackson, so they shouldn’t be caught off guard or surprised by what he brings to the table.
Of course, I’m not expecting the 49ers to pitch a shutout, so the San Francisco offense will have to do some heavy lifting. That won’t be easy against a Baltimore defense that has found its stride. The Ravens have allowed 20 points or less in six straight games. That includes a total of 13 points over the last two weeks against the Texans and Rams, two teams with as much offensive talent as any team in football.
That being said, I do have faith in the San Francisco rushing attack. Even with Matt Breida sidelined by injury the last two games, Tevin Coleman and Raheem Mostert have been more than enough in his absence. More importantly, George Kittle returned from injury last week, collecting six catches for 129 yards. He missed the team’s only loss of the season and is among the most impactful offensive players in the league.
I’ll admit that it’s risky to go against the Ravens with the way they’ve played recently, but I can’t discount how impressive the 49ers have been all year. If any team has a defense that can slow down Jackson, it might be the 49ers. I also think San Francisco’s running game can force a close, low-scoring game that will help the 49ers to beat the 5.5-point spread against Baltimore.