Point Spread: Patriots -2.5
Analysis: After the Sunday night win against the Rams, it appears that the 49ers have found their offensive identity. Or, at least they found a game plan that maximizes their chances of winning. That game plan is to run the ball, utilize the run and short-area passing game to open up the rest of the playbook and control the time of possession battle.
Even though running back Raheem Mostert is out, the 49ers must remain committed to running the football. Their best bet at doing so at a high level is undrafted rookie JaMycal Hasty. Against the Patriots, and until Mostert returns, I expect Hasty to take over as the lead back.
The Patriots weakness on defense is defending the run, as they’re a top 10 defense when it comes to defending the pass. They rank 16th in rushing yards allowed and ninth in passing yards allowed. Early in the game, the 49ers must make an effort to get the ground game going if they want to be in control of this matchup.
Defensively for the 49ers they will be without starting safeties Jaquiski Tartt and Jimmie Ward. The two starting safeties will likely be Tarvarius Moore and Marcell Harris, with newly promoted safety Jonathan Cyprien backing them up.
Missing two starting safeties should not hurt the 49ers this game, as the Patriots don’t have too many downfield threats in the passing game. Through five games, the Patriots are only averaging 207 passing yards per game, the seventh least in the league.
Despite not having a formidable passing game, the Patriots are exceptional when it comes to running the football. They’re averaging 167 rushing yards per game, the second most in the league.
Cam Newton is a huge reason why the Patriots’ rushing attack has been superb, as he leads them in rushing yards and rushing touchdowns. A key to this game for the 49ers is daring Newton the quarterback to beat them, not the runner. The 49ers have struggled to defend mobile quarterbacks, and they should stack the box to minimize the Patriots' rushing lanes.
On defense, containing Newton the runner is the first step towards slowing down the Patriots' offense. Offensively, the 49ers must stick to the aforementioned plan of attack. If they do both of those things, I like their chances of not only winning this game, but controlling it.
Spread Prediction: The 49ers cover +2.5.
The Patriots have not lost three consecutive regular season games since 2002, and have not started 2-4 since Bill Belichick’s first year in 2000. In many ways, the Patriots are in the exact same position that the 49ers were in last weekend.
However, I don’t think the Patriots will find their mojo in this matchup like the 49ers did last week against the Rams. Even when you take into account all of the injuries, on paper the 49ers still matchup well against the Patriots.
They have better skill position players, a better defensive line, better linebackers and a better coach calling plays on offense. Kyle Shanahan called a tremendous game for Jimmy Garoppolo last week, in terms of giving him a confidence boost going into this matchup.
This game could very easily come down to which quarterback has a better day throwing the football, and I like Garoppolo’s chances of out-dueling Newton. This is Garoppolo’s first game back in Foxborough since the Patriots traded him to the 49ers three years ago.
The last time the Patriots missed the playoffs was 2008, the year that Tom Brady missed 15 games with a torn ACL. It would be very fitting for the quarterback who was essentially supposed to be Brady’s successor - AKA Jimmy Garoppolo - to be the quarterback who puts a huge damper on the Patriots' playoff hopes, the first year without Brady on the team.
So far this year, the 49ers are 3-3 against the spread, while the Patriots are 2-3 against it. Not only do I like the 49ers to advance their against the spread to record 4-3, I like them to advance their overall record to 4-3.
Over/Under Prediction 44: Under
This game features two really good defenses, and points will be hard to come by in this game. Thus far, only two of the Patriots’ five matchups have exceeded the over/under (o/u) line, while three of the 49ers six matchups have exceeded the o/u line.
I’m expecting a relatively low scoring game, with the 49ers winning by a touchdown.
Final Score Prediction: 49ers 24 - Patriots 17
All 49ers Sports Illustrated Writers Predictions:
|<strong>Writer</strong>||<strong>Record</strong>||SF +3 or NE -3 ||Over/Under 45|