49ers vs Commanders Odds, Pick, Prediction: San Francisco Is the Bet

49ers vs Commanders Odds, Pick, Prediction: San Francisco Is the Bet article feature image

Steph Chambers/Getty Images. Pictured: Christian McCaffrey (left), Brock Purdy.

  • The 49ers are favored on Christmas Eve by 6.5 points against the Commanders.
  • Chase Young will return for Washington, and he'll be looking to terrorize Niners QB Brock Purdy.
  • Ricky Henne previews the game and makes a 49ers vs Commanders pick below.

49ers vs Commanders Odds

Saturday, Dec. 24
4:05 p.m. ET
49ers Odds
-112o / -108u
Commanders Odds
-112o / -108u
Odds via FanDuel. Get up-to-the-minute NFL odds here.

For Christmas Eve, I've been tasked with finding a 49ers vs Commanders pick in Week 16.

The Commanders are coming off a brutal loss that delivered a major blow to their playoff hopes.  Now they travel across the country to visit the 49ers, who’ve already wrapped up the NFC West with three games remaining.

Both teams boast impressive defenses — San Francisco gives up the fewest points per game (15) while Washington allows the ninth fewest (19.7). The 49ers are seven-point favorites, so you’d assume most must be taking the Commanders to cover what’s typically a low-scoring affair whenever top-notch defenses square off.

Well, think again.

The sharps and public are in alignment, both backing San Francisco laying the points. Let’s take a closer look at why.

49ers vs Commanders Matchup Analysis

Toggle the dropdowns below to hide or show how the 49ers and Commanders match up statistically:

49ers vs Commanders DVOA Breakdown
Overall DVOA261
Pass DVOA285
Rush DVOA252
Overall DVOA910
Pass DVOA415
Rush DVOA184

As alluded to above, any discussion about these teams starts with the defenses.

The 49ers not only lead the league in points against, but also give up the fewest yards per game (286.1). Both their rushing defense (12.56) and passing defense (46.53) rank second in expected points contributed, according to Pro Football Reference. Overall, they rank first in total DVOA (-17.6%), second in rush DVOA (-23.2%) and fifth in pass DVOA (-14.3%), per Football Outsiders.

Bet Washington vs. San Francisco at FanDuel

Meanwhile, Washington is no slouch either, giving up the fourth-fewest yards per game (308.9). The Commanders are especially stingy against the run, ranking sixth in expected points by rushing defense (8.45) while giving up the fourth-fewest touchdowns on the ground (8).

In addition, a defense with the most quarterback knockdowns in the league (63) will finally welcome Chase Young back to the mix. The stud pass-rusher is set to make his season debut after blowing out his knee 13 months ago. Beat reporters expect him to be on a significantly limited snap count, yet he’s uniquely capable of wrecking a drive on any single snap.

Clearly, these defenses are among the best in the league. However, when it comes to offense, the 49ers are light years ahead.

San Francisco’s Super Bowl aspirations were supposed to go up in flames when Jimmy Garoppolo was lost for the year. Instead, Brock Purdy’s emerged as one of the best feel-good stories in quite some time.

Mr. Irrelevant has been anything but, completing 69% of his passes (58-of-84) for 612 yards, three touchdowns and only one interception. He has a QBR of 67.9, which if he had enough attempts to qualify, would rank fifth behind only Patrick Mahomes, Tua Tagovailoa, Josh Allen and Jalen Hurts.

Meanwhile, Christian McCaffrey has been every bit the game changer the 49ers hoped he’d be when they acquired him from the Panthers.  He’s fourth in both scrimmage yards (818) and yards after the catch (257), and fifth in touchdowns (seven) since joining San Francisco. It should come as no surprise then that the 49ers have won seven in a row since he took over as the starting running back.

For Washington, things have gotten so bad lately there’s speculation Taylor Heinicke is on a short leash with Carson Wentz waiting in the wings. After a hot start, Heinicke has regressed over the past five games, completing a dismal 60.4% of his passes (90-of-149) for 1,064 yards with only five touchdowns and two picks.

At the same time, the Commanders figure to have a tough time pounding the rock. A rushing attack led by Brian Robinson and Antonio Gibson has had mild success on the year. They are 11th in yards per game (126.9) but only rank 25th in run DVOA (-12.0%). Now they're forced to go against a 49ers defense that gives up the fewest yards per game on the ground (74.7).

Betting Picks

As noted, both defenses are lights out and among the best in the league. However, while Heinicke and company will likely struggle to move the ball, the 49ers’ offense looks far more capable of putting up points.

The Commanders have struggled to score against the likes of the Giants (twice) and Falcons over their last three games. They’ve averaged 17.0 points per game over that span against a New York defense ranked 19th in total DVOA (11.4%) and an Atlanta squad ranked 30 (12.5%). If they couldn’t score against those bottom-dwelling defenses, how can we expect them to fare better against the 49ers?

Meanwhile, for San Francisco, it’s simply impossible to ignore the McCaffrey factor.  As Evan Abrams points out in his Week 16 betting trends primer – a must-read every week – the 49ers are 7-0 straight up and 6-1 against the spread since Week 8 when McCaffrey got up to full speed.  At the same time, San Francisco’s averaging 29.7 points per game with Purdy under center, which is sixth-most in the league over that span.

If you told me three weeks ago that I’d be laying seven points with Brock Purdy at the helm, I’d have said you were flat out crazy. Yet here I am alongside the sharps and public in doing just that.

Six of the 49ers’ wins over their seven-game winning streak have been by over eight points, and there are plenty of reasons to think they’ll do so yet again. Still, I'm one of those who hate betting on even spreads of seven and three, so feel free to join me in buying the hook.

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