Packers vs. 49ers: Betting the Total
Jason’s record on his final weekly NFL picks for the 2012 postseason:
0-4 ATS (–4.22 units)
3-1 Totals (+1.9 units)
Profit: –2.32 units
Maybe from now on I’ll just divide the NFL season into two and treat each half differently. That’s pretty much the way things have worked out for the teams I’ve been covering in 2012-13, including both teams in Saturday night’s must-see matchup (8:00 p.m. ET, FOX). The Packers started the season with the OVER 5-2 and finished with the UNDER 6-2. The 49ers started with the UNDER 5-2-1 and finished with the OVER 7-1…Great horny toads.
The midseason switch for the 49ers is well documented: Alex Smith (104.1 passer rating) out, Colin Kaepernick (98.3 passer rating, 6.6 yards per carry) in. Kaepernick’s running element brings San Francisco’s offense to another level, a level which makes sense considering the West Coast offense was made famous here. All the smart coaches are using some kind of spread option something-or-other these days – at least, the ones smart enough to work for teams that shell out for high-quality players.
The switch for the Packers is a little less obvious. In fact, their whole season is a bit of a mess to figure out, thanks to all those injuries. Safety Charles Woodson was injured in Week 7 and missed the rest of the regular season, but the UNDER started getting paid in his absence, not the OVER. At the same time, WR Greg Jennings missed all of October and November; the UNDER was 6-3 in the games he did play. Go figure.
Suffice to say these are two different teams from the ones that did battle in the season opener. The 49ers invaded Lambeau Field and beat the Packers 30-22 (OVER 46.5); the final score was bolstered by a Randall Cobb punt return for a touchdown, plus a 63-yard David Akers field goal at the end of the first half. Special teams matter.
Speaking of which, what happened to Akers? He’s just 29-of-42 this year on field goals (69 percent) and 9-of-19 from 40 yards or longer. It’s bad enough compared to today’s young robo-kickers that the Niners signed Billy Cundiff off the scrap heap to compete with Akers. And the Packers have had even worse problems with Mason Crosby, who’s 21-of-33 this year (63.6 percent) and 2-of-9 from 50 yards or longer. Here’s an idea: Don’t try so many long field goals.
The NFL betting lines have delivered us a slightly lower total than the one we saw at the season opener. We’re looking at 44.5 or 45 points, depending on where you shop, and the early consensus numbers are split fairly evenly. Weather looks like it won’t play a factor; the forecast calls for mostly clear skies and temperatures around 50 degrees, with only a 10 percent chance of rain. It’s San Francisco.
They haven’t played a lot of January football at The Stick over the past decade-plus. But the OVER is 5-1 in this situation dating back to 1999 and the end of Steve Young’s career. The total was split in San Fran’s two playoff games last year, going OVER in the Divisional round against the New Orleans Saints and UNDER in the NFC title game loss to the New York Giants.
I’ll take the OVER in this game as one of my sports picks. As I’ve said elsewhere, the home team drives the bus, and San Francisco’s recent OVER performances take precedent. Let’s play the game already. Saturday is too long to make us wait.
NFL Picks: Take OVER 44.5 (–107)