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In the second game of Week 13's Monday night doubleheader, the Buffalo Bills and San Francisco 49ers will go head-to-head in Glendale, Arizona. The 8-3 Bills have won four of their last five games, that one outlier being a last-second loss on a Hail Mary by the Cardinals in this very stadium. Meanwhile, the 5-6 49ers pushed through a bad three-game losing streak and won last Sunday against the Rams to keep their playoff hopes going.
Here is a preview for Monday's game between the Bills and 49ers, complete with a free pick. San Francisco is a 1.5-point favorite at "home."
It's been a while since the Bills headed into the season as the division favorite, but through 12 weeks, they have delivered. Buffalo got off to a quick 4-0 start, with quarterback Josh Allen putting up MVP-like numbers in the process. But losses to the Titans and Chiefs in back-to-back weeks humbled them, as those are two of the top teams in the conference along with Buffalo. But they responded nicely with wins in four of their fives games that followed, the lone loss to Arizona as mentioned above. With a matchup next week against the undefeated Steelers and a Week 17 duel with the contending Dolphins, the Bills will look to end strong and win their first AFC East title since 1995.
On the offensive side of the ball, Buffalo cracks the top-10 with 27.2 points per game and sits just outside the top-10 in total yards per game with 384.5. A big part of that is from 268 passing yards per game, which ranks seventh in the NFL, combined with a 21st-ranked 104 rushing yards. One big strength for the Bills is their success on third down, where they convert 49.6 percent of the time.
Buffalo's defense was projected to be one of the better units in football but has struggled statistically. The Bills are giving up 25.6 points per game on just under 388 yards, 18th and 21st in the NFL, respectively. They also rank 18th against the pass, 25th against the run with nearly 130 yards given up, and sit 21st in third down defense. The Bills have managed to put up 30 sacks as a team, as well as eight interceptions.
It has been an uphill climb all season for the defending NFC champions. With early injuries setting the tone, the 49ers started the season 2-3, capped off by a bad loss at home to the Dolphins. Then, after being able to climb back to 4-3, the Niners were handled by three of the NFC's top teams in the Seahawks, Packers, and Saints. On top of that, the news came through right after their bye week that COVID restrictions imposed in Santa Clara prevented the team from playing or practicing at home, displacing them for the immediate future. But things may be turning around following a win against the Rams on the road, as now a win Monday and a Cardinals loss would move the 49ers into a tie for the seventh and final Wild Card spot in the NFC.
With quarterback Nick Mullens and a rotation of running backs and receivers, San Francisco is 20th in the NFL with 23.7 points per game. They rank 12th with 382 total yards, also entering the game 12th in passing yards and 16th in rushing yards. Another below-average area, however, comes on third downs, where the Niners are 23rd in football with a 40.2 percent success rate.
Despite a multitude of injuries, the 49ers still have an excellent defense that has shown flashes of last season's league-best group. San Francisco is just inside the top-10 with 326 yards allowed, including the fourth-best pass defense. They're 11th in points given up with 23 while cracking the top-10 in rushing yards and third down percentage against. However, the biggest difference from last year is their pass rush, which has gone from one of the best in the NFL to a unit that has only 20 sacks, ranking in the bottom-10.
Starting with the Bills, the AFC East leaders are 6-5 this season against the spread, 2-3 ATS on the road in particular. They are, however, 5-0 ATS in their last five games against the NFC. The over has also hit in eight of Buffalo's 11 games this season.
As for the 49ers, their 5-6 record ATS matches their normal record, but they're just 1-4 ATS at home. They are, however, 4-2 straight up in their last six home games against Buffalo, although this isn't really a game at "home." And while the Niners are 8-3 ATS in their last 11 AFC games, they're just 2-5 straight up in their last seven games against the AFC East.
This is one of the closer games of the NFL week based on the spread, and for good reason. The Bills are one of the better teams in football, while the 49ers boast an outstanding defense yet again. However, I'm going with the Bills on the road. I expect Josh Allen to rebound from last week's mediocre performance, especially since the Niners' pass rush is nowhere near what it was last year. In addition, Buffalo is just a healthier team. Give me the Bills in this one to move closer to a division title on Monday night.
Pick: Bills +1.5