The last time San Francisco and Washington met, Alex Smith and John Beck were the quarterbacks. Will Colin Kaepernick and Robert Griffin III get the OVER to the NFL betting window Monday night?
Jason’s record on his final NFL picks for 2013, up to November 23 inclusive:
1-1 ML (+0.71 units)
NFC East is East, and NFC West is West, and rarely the twain shall meet. It’s been two years since San Francisco and Washington last faced each other on the football field; they’ve met just five times since the turn of the millennium. If NFL betting trends are your thing, you’re straight outta luck for this week’s Monday Night Football matchup. Unless you think what Alex Smith and John Beck did in 2011 has a significant bearing on what will happen Monday.
But that doesn’t mean we can’t dig deep, peel back the layers, and get to know which side of the NFL total has more betting value. The Week 12 football lines for Monday’s encounter (8:30 p.m. ET, ESPN) have the over/under set at 47 points, in a game where San Francisco is favored by 4.5 on the road. Our consensus reports show a virtually even split within the NFL betting public. Let’s do this.
Stop Being So Defensive
Washington has the OVER at 6-4 this year, powered mostly by one of the worst defenses in the league, while the balanced San Fran lineup has parted the totals down the middle at 5-5. Both teams went UNDER last week, albeit while facing totals in the 50s. Here’s how they shape up in terms of efficiency heading into Week 12, as per Football Outsiders:
San Francisco: No. 8 overall (No. 14 offense, No. 11 defense, No. 13 special teams)
Washington: No. 29 overall (No. 16 offense, No. 27 defense, No. 32 special teams)
Looking at the run/pass splits, San Francisco again brings a balanced attack to the gridiron (No. 10 rush, No. 10 pass), while Washington leans heavily toward the ground game (No. 2 rush, No. 25 pass). The clash of styles plays into the hands of the home team this week; San Fran’s defense is only No. 20 versus the rush compared to No. 8 versus the air attack. Washington’s defense is rather appalling across the board (No. 24 pass, No. 27 rush).
Run for the Cure
In a year where very little has gone right for Robert Griffin III, he still manages to pick up 5.2 yards per carry – when he carries the ball. Griffin has 66 rushing attempts through Week 11; at this time last year, he was already up to 93 totes. Griffin’s taken quite a beating in the Washington backfield the last couple of years running the read option. It’s still a potent strategy, but NFL defenses are adjusting a little better every week.
They’re not doing a very good job of stopping RB Alfred Morris, though. Last year’s second-leading rusher (1,613 yards) behind league MVP Adrian Petersen, Morris has improved in his sophomore campaign, generating 5.1 yards per carry – up from 4.8 yards in 2012. Washington is also getting strong results from RB Roy Helu (4.9 yards per carry), including a three-TD performance in Week 7 against the Chicago Bears.
Back on the Left Coast, Niners QB Colin Kaepernick (6.0 yards per carry) remains dangerous on the ground, even though his overall game, like Griffin’s, has taken a turn for the worse in his second year as the starter. Kaepernick’s completion rate has dipped from 62.4 percent to 56.2 percent – although it must be said, the quality of receiving talent around him has also taken a step back thanks to injuries.
Good news: WR Michael Crabtree could make his season debut Monday, joining recent arrival Mario Manningham off the injured list. TE Vernon Davis looks like a go for Monday, as well, so even if Crabtree is delayed another week, Washington’s defense should have its hands full. Let’s go with the OVER this week.NFL Pick: Take OVER 46.5 at The Greek