While the San Francisco 49ers (7-5) playoff hopes hang by a thread, they will need to fend off the Oakland Raiders (1-11). A Battle of the Bay matchup, it can very well turn into the ultimate trap game for the 49ers. While the 49ers are primed to get back on track, it won’t be easy as this game will be a ‘bloodbath’ to the end.
This game will likely be a defensive struggle. The 49ers offense is inconsistent and with their defense winning games for them week in and week out, look for that to continue as DC Vic Fangio dials up a game-plan aimed at harassing Raiders QB Derek Carr. A rookie quarterback who looks poised beyond his years, I fully expect Fangio to let OLB Aldon Smith loose as he will be given the green light to attack Carr. Look for Smith to record a pair of sacks as he continues to be the team’s best pass-rusher. While the pass-rush does it’s part, that will then allow them to stack the box as SS Antoine Bethea plays up near the line of scrimmage.
The Raiders rank dead last in rushing as they put up paltry 72.5 rushing yards per game. This likely means that the 49ers front seven should have their way if they maintain gap integrity. Starting with second-year NT Quinton Dial and rookie third-round pick (No. 77) ILB Chris Borland, those two players should rack up their fair share of tackles. Borland, who has been playing the best of any linebacker in the NFL, should have close to double digit tackles once again. If they can stop speedy Raiders RB Darren McFadden and RB Latavius Murray while setting the edge, the 49ers should be able to hold the Raiders to under 17 points.
While the 49ers defense looks to do their part, it will be their offense that will need to show signs of life. An offense that has been inconsistent, frustrating, and at times laughable, it will be up to OC Greg Roman on whether he wants to go back to his smash-mouth ways as he faces the 27th ranked rush defense.
A team that has lost their offensive identity, the question remains will 49ers’ RB Frank Gore be the focal point of the offensive game-plan. And while he should be, as they face a suspect run defense, it wouldn’t surprise me if Roman and head coach Jim Harbaugh neglect it altogether as they use more three and four wide-out sets. And with 49ers’ QB Colin Kaepernick not being able to use his legs like he should, the question remains why?
A dual-threat quarterback that can keep defense’s honest, Roman should bring back some-type of read-option this week. As as coach you want to play to your player’s strengths and Kap’s strength is his ability to move outside the pocket. If Roman brings back the read-option, look for that to do wonders in the passing game as that should clear space for TE Vernon Davis down the seams, WR Anquan Boldin on the short-routes, and RB Frank Gore coming out of the backfield while I believe Kaepernick will score his first rushing touchdown of the season. #Kaepernicking
A tough matchup despite being 8.5 point favorites, I fully expect this game to be closer than anticipated early on. And with the 49ers clearly being the better team on paper that should be enough, as I predict the 49ers to win 24-20.
NinerFans.com 9-3 (Over/Under)
With the total points set at 41, I would take the under. Although I predict the 49ers to get back on track with their red zone efficiency, I don’t believe they will top 30 points making the under a slightly safer bet.
NinerFans.com 5-7 (line)
With the 49ers being -8.5 point favorites, I would pick Oakland. Not an easy pick here and I would stay away but if I had to pick I would put my faith that the Raider Nation gives them a home-field boost.
Fantasy Football (9 out of 31)
As you know we select three players each game who we think will score touchdowns (quarterbacks omitted). Here are this week’s picks.
QB Colin Kaepernick (rush)
RB Frank Gore
WR James Jones
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