49ers, Falcons clash on MNF
December 20, 2013
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Atlanta Falcons (4-10 SU, 5-9 ATS) at San Francisco 49ers (10-4 SU, 9-4-1 ATS)
Sportsbook.ag Line, Total: San Francisco -12, 45
Two teams heading in completely opposite directions clash Monday night when the Falcons visit the 49ers. While Atlanta has won-and-covered the same game just three times all season, San Francisco won its fourth straight game (3-1 ATS) last week with a 33-14 blowout victory in Tampa Bay.
These teams last met in the NFC Championship last season where the 49ers erased an early 17-0 deficit and finished the game on a 28-7 run to win 28-24 and advance to the Super Bowl. That comeback victory snapped the Falcons' four-game win streak in this series, but since 1992, the Niners hold a 16-10 advantage (SU and ATS) in this series, including a 10-2 SU mark (8-4 ATS) at home where the Over has gone 8-4. Atlanta is 13-3 ATS (81%) in road games after allowing 450+ total yards in its previous game since 1992, but San Francisco is 28-9 ATS (76%) when playing on Monday night in that same timeframe.
In terms of injuries, the Falcons could be weakened on defense with both LB Sean Weatherspoon (knee) and S Thomas DeCoud (head) 'questionable' for this game, while the 49ers could be missing some offensive depth with FB Bruce Miller (arm, IR) out and TE Vance McDonald (ankle) and WRs Quinton Patton (foot) and Jon Baldwin (calf) all 'questionable' for Monday.
The Falcons are having a miserable season, but are still playing hard with a 3-1 ATS mark in their past four games. Last Sunday they defeated the Redskins 27-26 behind two touchdowns on the ground from RB Steven Jackson.
QB Matt Ryan threw for 210 yards with one touchdown and one interception, while TE Tony Gonzalez was his top target with six catches for 62 yards and a touchdown. Atlanta’s passing offense has held up rather well throughout injuries this season, as Ryan has thrown for 277.6 yards per game (7h in NFL) with 22 TD and 13 INT. This has made up for a horrendous ground game that ranks last in the NFL with 79.3 rushing YPG.
Another big problem for Atlanta has been its struggles on the defensive end, with the team allowing 386.3 total YPG (29th in NFL), broken down into 131.4 yards per game on the ground (29th in NFL) and 254.9 yards per game through the air (25th in NFL). The Falcons were bailed out last week with some big plays though, forcing seven Redskins turnovers which is the same amount of takeaways they had amassed in the previous seven games combined. They will need to force some more miscues from Colin Kaepernick and San Francisco’s versatile offensive attack.
San Francisco has outscored opponents 102 to 50 during its four-game win streak with its defense allowing just 237.3 total YPG during this win surge. For the season, the Niners have allowed just 16.3 PPG and 299.1 total YPG, which both rank third-best in the NFL. They have done a great job in both facets, allowing only 199.7 passing YPG (4th in league) and 99.4 rushing YPG (6th in NFL), and have not allowed many long drives with a 33% third-down conversion rate.
Offensively, the 49ers rely mostly on their running game which is gaining 137.1 YPG (5th in NFL). RB Frank Gore rushed for 86 yards (3.9 YPC) of the team's 187 yards in the win over Tampa Bay last week. Gore has racked up 1,017 yards (4.2 YPC) and eight touchdowns on the season, and he scored the final two touchdowns of the NFC Championship win in Atlanta in January to cap off his day with 90 rushing yards on 4.3 YPC.
The Niners should be able to exploit the Falcons' porous defense even through the air where they have not clicked all season. They are throwing for just 179.1 yards per game (30th in NFL), but QB Colin Kaepernick (7.5 YPA, 18 TD, 8 INT) has played well during the win streak (8.1 YPA, 7 TD and 1 INT). This includes going 19-of-29 for 203 yards, 2 TD and 0 INT in last week's win over the Buccaneers.
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