Patriots vs. 49ers Odds
On Halloween, it will be exactly three years to the day since the New England Patriots went all in on a 40-year-old Tom Brady by trading Jimmy Garoppolo to the San Francisco 49ers.
Much has changed since.
Brady left the Patriots for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in free agency this past offseason. Now with Cam Newton, New England sits one game below .500 at 2-3 and hopes to right the ship at home against Jimmy Garoppolo and the 49ers.
The Patriots opened as 3.5-point favorites before the market swiftly bet them down to -2 before settling at -3 as of Saturday evening. Will the Patriots’ decision to trade Garoppolo come back to haunt them, or will they prove to be a nightmare matchup against their former quarterback? Let’s take a closer look.
San Francisco 49ers
Injuries have been the biggest challenge for the reigning NFC champions this season. The 49ers had a previous flurry of injuries to Nick Bosa, Dee Ford, Richard Sherman, K’Waun Williams and Kwon Alexander earlier this season.
San Francisco’s injury luck hasn’t gotten any better, as it will be without both of their starting safeties after Jimmie Ward suffering a quad strain during Thursday’s practice and Jaquiski Tartt suffering a groin injury in Week 6.
The injury bug has made its way to the offense as well, as the 49ers lost center Ben Garland for the season with a calf strain. Trent Williams (questionable) has an ankle sprain that could cause him to miss time, but it is likely he’ll play on Sunday. Running back Raheem Mostert (IR) has a high-ankle sprain and Jeff Wilson also suffered a calf injury in Week 6. We’re likely to see a timeshare with Jerick McKinnon and JaMycal Hasty, however the 49ers are short-handed at the running back position.
None of this is good news for an offense that is 19th in points per game (24.7), 25th in Football Outsiders’ offensive DVOA, 21st in yards per play (5.6), 20th in play success rate (47%) and 26th in explosive play rate (26.5%).
All this means is that Garoppolo will have to do more for this team to win. Garoppolo is 31st in completion percentage (63.6%) while also being 31st in intended air yards, at 6.2 yards per throw (per NFL Next Gen Stats). Despite throwing the ball shorter distances, he’s still struggling with accuracy.
The 49ers have lacked the ability to get the ball downfield this season, as Garoppolo has yet to complete a pass that’s traveled more than 20 yards this season. He’s 0-for-8 with two interceptions on such throws and is one of 38 quarterbacks with 60 dropbacks to not complete one. Garoppolo has battled an ankle injury, but if he can’t do more to overcome the injuries to his teammates, San Francisco’s Super Bowl hangover could become a nightmare.
New England Patriots
The Titans’ performance coming off a COVID-19 outbreak spoiled us. There aren’t many football teams that can come off a week and a half of minimal practice and perform optimally. Despite having possibly the greatest coach of all time in Bill Belichick, the Patriots aren’t any different.
The Patriots have turned the ball over seven times over the past two weeks and have still had opportunities to win both of their games against the Chiefs and Broncos. With a full week of practice, without the shutdown of facilities due to COVID, it’s likely we’ll see a cleaner game from New England’s offense.
The Patriots are a run-first offense in 2020 and this matchup is ideal against a 49ers defense that’s 26th against explosive run rate given New England’s sixth-ranked explosive run rate (per Sharp Football Stats). The Patriots are also fifth in the NFL with 5.1 yards per carry and 10th in rushing success rate, so they should be able to attack San Francisco on the ground.
The combination of Newton, James White, Sony Michel and Rex Burkhead figures to be especially difficult to defend given Newton’s dual-threat ability. With the 49ers giving up 13 rushes for 91 yards against Kyler Murray and a league leading 231 yards to all quarterbacks this season, it’s likely we could see Newton cause problems for this defense.
Defense hasn’t been the problem in New England’s last two losses, as the Patriots gave up only 19 points to Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs’ offense and 18 points to the Broncos’ offense. The Patriots are just 14th in defensive DVOA, they’re fourth in opponents’ third-down conversion rate (34.62%) and sixth in red-zone defense allowing just 50 percent of trips inside the 20 to score touchdowns.
This is the epitome of a bend-don’t-break defense.
Belichick has always schemed to take away an opponent’s best option. In their Week 3 matchup against the Raiders, the Patriots held tight end Darren Waller to just two receptions for nine yards, one week after catching 12 receptions for 105 yards and a touchdown against the Saints on Monday Night Football. George Kittle has 30 receptions for 380 yards and two touchdowns this season, and it’s likely we see the Patriots do everything to limit his targets this week.
What would this line look like if the the results of the Broncos game turned out differently?
With New England’s 18-12 home loss last week, I believe we’re getting the Patriots at a discount price against a banged-up 49ers team whose only wins are against both New York teams and the Rams. If you needed an analysis of the Rams season to this point, they’re 4-2 but their only wins are against the four abysmal NFC East teams.
The Rams outscored the 49ers 10-3 in the second half of last Sunday night’s game. Against a better Patriots defense, the 49ers’ struggles should continue.
Belichick-coached teams are 35-14 (71.4%) against the spread when coming off a loss, but off back-to-back losses his teams are 6-2 (75%) ATS and straight up.
This is a prime bounce-back spot for the Patriots and I see them spoiling Garoppolo’s return. I’m laying the points and would bet New England up to -3.
PICK: Patriots -3