NFL Odds, Picks, Predictions: Why Our Expert Likes 49ers To Cover Spread vs. Cardinals and Vikings-Ravens Over
Michael Zagaris/San Francisco 49ers/Getty Images
- The 49ers vs. Cardinals odds have been on the move all week with the status of Kyler Murray in flux.
- Now San Francisco is favored, but after comparing those NFL odds to his model, our expert sees value on the Niners -- at the right price.
- Find out which number he's willing to bet the 49ers to below, plus why he likes the chances of the Vikings-Ravens matchup going over its total.
I can’t believe we are almost halfway through the 2021 NFL regular season, but here we are in November, headed into Week 9 after one of the craziest news weeks I can remember in this league.
With so much uncertainty across the board, I wanted to keep things simpler, so below you’ll find my favorite side and total on Sunday’s slate.
NFL Odds, Picks, Predictions
4:25 p.m. ET on Sunday
I’ve had this spot circled since the last time these two teams faced each other earlier this season in Arizona.
Unfortunately, I lost a bet that day on the 49ers +6, but only due to some unfortunate swings in a seven-point loss. San Francisco got stopped on the goal line on fourth-on-1 and somehow went only 1-for-5 on fourth downs.
Even in rookie Trey Lance’s first career start with a number of other key injuries, the 49ers still out-gained he Cardinals (338-304) and averaged more yards per play (5.7-5.1). Now, the Niners will have a chance to exact revenge at home on their division rival Cardinals, who are now the much more beat-up team.
It all starts with the the injury to Kyler Murray, who tweaked his ankle late in last Thursday’s matchup against the Packers. He’s been in a boot and didn’t practice all week, so will be a game-time decision on Sunday.
If Murray can’t suit up, the Cardinals will have to turn to Colt McCoy — I don’t have to go into detail about how that would be a significant downgrade.
However, even if Murray does give it a go on Sunday, his mobility in all likelihood will be severely limited. That would make him and this offense much less effective. Also, starting center Rodney Hudson remains on IR while wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins has a hamstring issue and A.J. Green finds himself on the COVID list.
Like Murray, Hopkins is going to be a game-time decision on Sunday.
We could see a shell of what this offense looks like at full strength. Plus, this 49ers defense, which continues to get healthier, has already demonstrated in recent seasons it can contain Murray at full-strength.
Meanwhile, when the 49ers have the ball, their vaunted rushing attack should feast against a vulnerable Cardinals run defense. Arizona ranks 22nd in Rush Success Rate and has allowed 4.9 yards per carry, the second-highest mark in the NFL. And now it will have to make do without one of its best run-stoppers in J.J. Watt.
The expected return of tight end George Kittle could make things even rosier for the 49ers. His run-blocking and pass-catching ability takes this offense to another level.
I’m also expecting some third-down regression for this Cardinals defense in the near future. Given their talent level, I just don’t see any way they can sustain a league-leading -.589 Expected Points Added (EPA) per play on late downs and a 30% success rate on fourth downs.
Over the next few weeks, we should start to see the 49ers team I expected prior to the season. This is my favorite side of the weekend and I would play it up to -2.5 (find the best real-time line here).
1 p.m. ET on Sunday
This game has shootout potential.
I believe the Ravens offense is poised to have a monster second half of the season. They are not only getting healthier with the likely return of Sammy Watkins and the extremely underrated Nick Boyle, but they also recently saw the debut of first-round draft pick Rashod Bateman. His addition gives Baltimore a much more formidable group of wide receivers, especially considering Marquise Brown’s breakout season.
Also, the Ravens’ rushing attack should continue to improve on a weekly basis. Remember, Baltimore dealt with an inordinate amount of injuries at running back and along the offensive line to start the year. It has now had seven games to build continuity and an invaluable bye week to work out some of the kinks. I also wouldn’t be surprised to see a few new wrinkles from offensive coordinator Greg Roman.
For what it’s worth, the Ravens usually comes out firing on all cylinders after the bye week. Head coach John Harbaugh is an impressive 9-4 (69.2%) against the spread after the bye, covering by more than a touchdown per game.
This is also a very good matchup for Baltimore. The Ravens have the speed on the outside to exploit a beat up Minnesota secondary that is lacking in that department.
Plus, the Vikings no longer have the services of their best pass-rusher, Danielle Hunter, who is out for the year with a pectoral injury. That really hurts one of the strongest aspects of this defense, which ranks second in Adjusted Sack Rate. Defensive tackle Michael Pierce will also miss this one with an injury.
The Ravens run game also should thrive against a struggling Vikings run defense that ranks 27th in EPA per rush. There are plenty of advantages across the board for Baltimore’s offense.
Meanwhile, the Vikings offense will also enjoy quite a few edges on paper. Yes, I know they looked awful last week. However, I just think that was one of those stinkers every offense has one or two times per year. Just last year, we saw Minnesota amass a mere 175 total yards in a 28-11 loss against the Colts.
This is still a very dangerous offense that matches up well with the Ravens. Baltimore’s defense can be vulnerable against zone-running schemes, while Kirk Cousins has proven more than capable against the blitz, which Ravens defensive coordinator Wink Martindale loves to utilize.
Cousins and one of the best wide receiver duos in the league can have a big bounce-back day here against a Ravens secondary that still has some attackable areas.
For what it’s worth, I would bet this over up to 50.5 points.