2012 Season NFL Football Past Picks
January 20, 2013
San Francisco at Atlanta
Sunday 01/20 03:00 PM Eastern
2 units on San Francisco -3.5 (-106) (risk 2 to return 2) RESULT: win
2 units on Game Total OVER 47.5 -102 (risk 2 to return 2) RESULT: win
The Falcons finished with the best record in the NFC at 13-3 and disposed of one of the hottest teams in the NFL last week. But, there are still a lot of question marks with this team. All three of their opponents in the NFC South finished below .500, so they had six divisional games against below .500 teams. Their schedule saw them facing the AFC West which had three of the four teams below .500 as well. The only AFC West team they played with a winning record was Denver in week two, before Peyton Manning got his sea-legs under him. The Falcons went through the last 11 games of their schedule without playing a single team that made the playoffs. The path for this team to get here was as easy as it gets. Does that mean they are a total fraud? No. This is a solid team and at home they are very good. They beat the Seattle Seahawks last week to get here. Seattle is a great team, but also one that was playing on the opposite coast for the second straight week and that clearly made the difference last week as they fell behind 20-0. Once Seattle showed up, they handily beat the Falcons. San Francisco is a lot like Seattle, but they aren't as road weary, and they have more experience. It's hard to imagine San Francisco putting up a dead half like Seattle did last week and if they don't Atlanta is going to have their hands full. The 49ers are on a mission after coming so close last year, so I expect them to finish the job here in Atlanta. Teams that come close and fail one year are very focused the next. While Russell Wilson had his way, picking his spots for 60 yards on just seven carries, the San Francisco offense is geared toward giving another great running QB an opportunity to make plays. Since the insertion of Colin Kaepernick, the Niners’ offense has gone from good, at 23.6 points per game to elite at 28.1 ppg. When you couple that with a defense that ranks #2 in fewest points allowed, it will be the most complete team Atlanta has faced all season - and a far cry from the type of talent they played most of the season. The Niners have been playing above the line for just about three years now at 24-11-1 ATS in their last 36, while the Falcons are 0-5 ATS in their last five playoffs games. Since Harbaugh took over, the Niners have stepped up their game vs. the best teams, going a perfect 7-0 ATS vs. teams at .750 or better. Take the Niners here. Also take the OVER in a game that I think gets easily into the 50s. Both of these teams can score, averaging 26+ points per game each. And, both teams have defenses that have played well with San Francisco giving up under 18 per game and Atlanta allowing just over 19 per game. But, these offenses are going to score here. Versus good defenses this season, the Niners have averaged 34 points per game. Versus good defenses this season, Atlanta has averaged 28.5 per game. And, both of these stout defenses have allowed much more than their average (i.e. mid 20s) when facing very good offenses. Atlanta's defense may not be as good as advertised. They have really bent without breaking. While ranked high points allowed, their defense has allowed 373 yards per game which is near the bottom of the league. San Francisco has become an OVER team with Kaepernick at QB, as their last five have all topped the total. Also, each of the Falcons’ last four playoffs games have eclipsed the total. Take San Francisco (buy to -3) and play the OVER.