On Sunday, the red hot Jacksonville Jaguars travel across country to take on the surging San Francisco 49ers.The Jaguars have already clinched a playoff spot, but are still playing for multiple seeds and their division title. If the Jaguars win out, they will end up being at least the 3 seed, but could move up to first or second seed if the Patriots or Steelers falter. The 49ers look like a new team behind the play of quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo. Kickoff inside Levi’s Stadium is at 4:05 PM ET.
The Jaguars and the 49ers have squared off 4 times since Jacksonville came into the league. Each team has won 2 games apiece, with the 49ers winning the last two. They have not played against each other since 2013 and the 49ers won that game on the road by a score of 42-10.
The Jaguars (10-4) are one of the scariest teams in the league and hold a 4-2 record on the road. They have won 3 straight games since their slipup in Arizona 4 weeks ago. The Jaguars bring into this matchup one of the top rushing attacks and the best defense in the league. Jacksonville is coming off a 45-7 win over Houston and looks to devour the 49ers this weekend.
San Francisco (4-10) is 2-5 at home, but come into this matchup having won 3 straight games and 4 of the last 5. Ever since Jimmy Garoppolo has taken over the QB position, he has led this team to 2 victories in a row and has staked his claim as the quarterback of the future in the Bay Area. However, it’s going to take more than Garoppolo for the 49ers to upset the Jaguars.
The spread opened with Jacksonville favored by 5.5 points, but it has come down to a current spread of 4 points. The Over/Under opened at 42.5 points and has come down to 42 total points.
Despite the 49ers having a poor record (4-10), they are playing some solid football in the month of December. They’ve won 2 of their last 3 home games and have an offense that is firing on all cylinders. Jimmy G. has transformed this entire franchise and even the fans are celebrating as if the Niners are a playoff contender. Sadly, those Bay Area happy vibes are going to end this weekend as the 49ers play a different breed of animal that they haven’t seen this season.
Yes, the 49ers have played against aggressive defenses this season like Seattle and the Rams, but Jacksonville’s is even better. They lead the league in fewest points allowed at 14.9 ppg, fewest passing yards allowed at 168.9 ypg, most sacks with 51, 2nd in the league with 31 takeaways, and tied for 1st in defensive touchdowns scored at 6 on the season. In other words, Jimmy G and the 49ers offense are in trouble.
The best chance that the Niners have this weekend is trying to establish the run as the Jaguars are 19th in the league allowing 115.2 yards per game. The 49ers have a capable lead back in Carlos Hyde who is on the verge of cracking 1,000 rushing yards this year. Jimmy G. will have to play a near perfect game for the Niners to have a shot, but I don’t see it happening. This Jaguars defense is just too good.
Offensively, the Jaguars lead the NFL in rushing yards at 149.1 ypg. Most of that damage has been done by rookie running back Leonard Fournette who missed last week’s game, but will be active this week versus the Niners. Jaguars QB Blake Bortles has been on fire over the last month and has really turned his season around. Bortles has 3,147 yards, 21 total touchdowns, 8 INTs, and 282 rushing yards with 2 games left to play. He’s cracked the 300 yard passing mark twice in the last three games and put up an impressive performance last weekend against Houston. Bortles went 21-of-29 for 326 yards, 3 touchdowns, 0 turnovers and a 143.7 QB rating. It was his best performance of the year.
The 49ers have a decent defense, so I don’t see Bortles lighting it up this weekend. However, I do see the Jaguars surpassing 150 yards on the ground as Bortles will contribute at least 25 rushing yards as he picks up crucial first downs. I expect Fournette to break 100 yards and Ivory or Yeldon to chip in when Leonard is getting a breather.
In the end, I see Jacksonville being too much for San Francisco to conquer this weekend. I believe the 49ers will come out and play some good football, but fall victim to that defense in the second half. Watch for Jacksonville to wear down the Niners defense with their running game, and put up too many points for the 49ers to comeback from. Jacksonville wins this game 30-17.
The Jaguars are 4-1 ATS in their last 5 games and 7-2 ATS in their last 9 road games. The 49ers are 3-9 ATS in their last 12 games versus teams with winning records, 2-8 ATS in their last 10 games against the AFC, and 1-4 ATS in their last 5 home games.