NFL Picks: Falcons vs. 49ers Betting the Total

Jason Lake

Monday, December 23, 2013 1:26 PM GMT

Monday, Dec. 23, 2013 1:26 PM GMT

The Atlanta Falcons defense is made out of tissue paper, but does the San Francisco offense have what it takes to tear up the NFL totals on Monday Night Football?

Jason’s record on his final NFL picks for 2013, up to December 21 inclusive:

39-31-2 ATS

1-1 ML (+0.71 units)

9-17-1 Totals

Just bet the OVER already. That should have been my blanket strategy for the 2013 NFL betting season; as we go to press, the OVER has been a profitable blind pick at 125-106, or 54.1 percent. I’m not going to cry (at least, not in public) about my small sample size of total picks, but I am going to start with the OVER as my default pick going forward, and adjust as necessary depending on the matchup, until the market corrects itself.

The NFL betting lines for Monday Night Football (8:30 p.m. ET, ESPN) are giving us a total of 46 points as the San Francisco 49ers (UNDER 8-6) prepare to host the Atlanta Falcons (OVER 8-6) in what should be the last ever game at Candlestick Park. And good riddance to it. I’m not a big fan of the 49ers playing their home games in Santa Clara, but if it gets them out of The Stick, they can play in Fresno for all I care. Our consensus reports show 67 percent of bettors taking the OVER in this matchup.

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Protect Ya Neck

There are plenty of reasons apart from the NFL betting trends to love the OVER. The Falcons bring the No. 29-ranked defense (No. 31 pass, No. 22 rush) in the league to San Fran, according to the efficiency numbers at Football Outsiders. The latest word at press time on LB Sean Weatherspoon is that he’s questionable to play after hurting his right knee last week against Washington. Weatherspoon hasn’t practiced all week, and the Falcons have no reason to rush him back into action. Back-up rookie safety Zeke Motta definitely won’t play after injuring his neck during Wednesday’s practice; however, starting safety Thomas DeCoud will return after missing the Washington game with a concussion.

On the other side of the line of scrimmage, the Niners have the No. 11-ranked offense in the league (No. 7 pass, No. 16 rush) through Week 15, and it appears that both WR Mario Manningham (knee, illness) and WR Michael Crabtree (ankle, wrist) will play on Monday. Manningham did end up missing some practice on Thursday and Saturday, so as always, make sure to follow up on the injury reports before you bet on the NFL.

A Mighty Wind

It’s not all smooth sailing for the OVER this week. Candlestick Park is definitely in a beautiful location on Bayview-Hunters Point, and Monday’s weather reports are calling for clear skies and temperatures in the mid-50s around kick-off. However, The Stick lives in its own weather universe. The wind comes off the Pacific Ocean and starts swirling over the nearby hills, getting nice and cold before arriving at the stadium. You never know quite what you’re going to get.

But that’s overstating the problem. Funky winds are more of a summertime concern – ask San Francisco Giants fans, who suffered greatly before the team moved to nearby AT&T Park. Later in the year, there’s not as much difference in temperature between inland and coastline, so conditions at The Stick tend to be milder.

I’d be more concerned about what the No. 16-ranked Atlanta offense (No. 14 pass, No. 22 rush) can accomplish against the No. 8-ranked San Francisco defense (No. 6 pass, No. 13 rush). And you have to consider the power running of the Niners, who are third in the league in rushing attempts. But with Michael Turner long gone, the Falcons have fallen to last in the league in carries. Matt Ryan (99.1 passer rating) is one of the better QBs in the game; the OVER is 2-1 in his three starts against San Fran. That’s good enough for me.

NFL Pick: Take OVER 45.5 at The Greek

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