Packers-49ers Thursday Night Football Betting Preview: Odds, trends, pick
Kicking off Week 9, the Packers (5-2) travel to quarterback Aaron Rodgers’ home state to take on the 49ers (4-4) on Thursday Night Football. The Packers are 7.5-point road favorites (-350 ML), and the over/under is listed at 48.5.
Both these teams have suffered from injury issues and COVID-19 complications, so bettors will want to pay close attention to the active/inactive list later in the day. For now, the BetQL NFL Best Bet Model heavily favors the 49ers on the first-half spread (+4), putting a five-star rating on the home team covering. Read on to see our full betting preview, analysis, prediction, and best bets for this prime-time NFC showdown.
WEEK 9 PICKS ADVICE: Pick ’em pool | Survivor Pool
All data presented is as of Thursday afternoon. You can track all NFL line movement on BetQL’s Line Movement Dashboard.
WEEK 9 FANTASY PPR RANKINGS:
Quarterback | Running back | Wide receiver | Tight end | D/ST | Kicker
Injuries have also been a year-long obstacle for Green Bay. Fourth-year stud Aaron Jones, a dual-threat back who scored seven TDs in Green Bay’s first five games (and led the league with 16 ground/19 scrimmage TDs last season), has missed the last two games with a calf injury. His backup, Jamaal Williams, had been filling in admirably but now has landed on the COVID-19 list due to his close contact with rookie back AJ Dillon, who tested positive for the virus on Monday. Tyler Ervin and Dexter Williams, who will handle the RB touches if Jones once again remains sidelined, will reach career highs in touches tonight.
The Packers’ passing game has taken some hits, too. Perennial Pro Bowl receiver Davante Adams, tied for the NFL lead with seven TD catches, missed two games earlier in the season. Adams’ counterpart, third-year receiver Allen Lazard, has been sidelined for Green Bay’s past four games after having core muscle surgery (if activated by 4 p.m. ET, Lazard could play tonight). And Rodgers’ offensive line, which has been so crucial to protecting him and opening running lanes in the Packers’ wins, has been banged up and shuffled around all season.
Rodgers and Adams have kept the offensive motor running for Green Bay with a little help from surprise breakout tight end Robert Tonyan. Rodgers has been as sharp as ever, with a 65.9 percent completion rate and 20:2 TD-to-INT ratio. He also averages 278.3 passing yards per game, which is the third best in his career. Adams has been good for 100.4 of those yards per game, catching 74.1 percent of his targets. Tonyan, who has caught a staggering 85.2 percent of his looks, averages 13.4 yards per catch and 44.1 receiving yards per game.
Green Bay needs to remain explosive offensively because its defense has been underwhelming all season. The Packers rank 20th in points allowed (187), and 30th in takeaways (four all season). The unit sits in the middle of the pack in passing touchdowns allowed (12) but surrenders the fifth-most rushing touchdowns (10). It’s uncanny that Rodgers has only two interceptions and a fumble through seven games, yet Green Bay’s turnover margin on the season is only plus-one. Luckily for Lafleur and defensive coordinator Mike Pettine, the Packers’ injury woes pale in comparison to the 49ers’ unfathomably-long list of big-name inactives.
Franchise QB Jimmy Garoppolo highlights the Niners’ dreaded injury list after he aggravated the ankle injury that derailed him for two games earlier in the season. Officially listed as a high-ankle sprain, Jimmy G has been placed on the IR and will be replaced by backup Nick Mullens. Mullens shined in San Fran’s 36-9 Week 3 drubbing of the Giants, throwing for 343 yards and a touchdown. He also looked pretty good last week in a 37-27 loss to the Seahawks.
But the third-year QB will be without most of San Francisco’s top skill players. Big-playmaking receiver Deebo Samuel, who missed the first four games of the season, has been sidelined with a hamstring injury since the Niners’ Week 7 win over New England. All-Pro tight end George Kittle landed on the IR with a fractured bone in his foot last week after coming down with a contested pass from Mullens. Rookie standout receiver Brandon Aiyuk and fourth-year receiver Kendrick Bourne have both been placed on the COVID-19 list. Kittle had ranked No. 2 (to only the Chiefs Travis Kelce) in receiving yards by a tight end with 474. Aiyuk and Bourne have combined for 53 catches, 723 receiving yards, and five touchdowns this season.
San Francisco will also have trouble leaning on the run, which quite often serves as its offensive M.O. The 49ers lead the league in rushing TDs with 14, but the loss of Kittle means the loss of one of its best run-blockers. Even worse, the 49ers are missing multiple key running backs, including starter and 2019 breakout Raheem Mostert. The dynamic back had 952 scrimmage yards and 10 total TDs last season and had 160 yards and three TDs against these Packers in the NFC Championship game. Mostert was averaging 5.9 yards per carry and catching 91.7 percent of his targets when he saw the field this year, but a high-ankle sprain in Week 6 has landed him on IR. Backup Tevin Coleman, who returned from IR last week after missing five games, promptly injured his knee and will miss time once again. That leaves rookie JaMycal Hasty and Jerick McKinnon, who have each shown moments of brilliance this season but cannot match Mostert and Colemans’ abilities.
If San Francisco gives the Packers trouble this evening, it will be because of its strong defense. Despite losing All-Pro defensive lineman Nick Bosa and future Hall-of-Fame cornerback Richard Sherman, the Niners remain an upper-echelon defensive unit. They rank in the top four in the NFL in passing yards allowed (1,672, or 209 per game) and top 10 in rushing yards allowed (845). They have surrendered the third-fewest rushing TDs in the league (five) despite not having a bye week yet. They have also yielded the sixth-fewest total yards and rank 10th in points allowed.
But will this defense continue to play inspired football despite so many recent punches to the proverbial gut? In a somewhat-telling move, San Francisco traded linebacker Kwon Alexander to the Saints earlier this week. Perhaps the 49ers are packing it up and accepting their fate as the cellar-dweller of the NFC West and focusing on freeing up cap space for next season. Only time will tell. For now, it’s worth noting that just about every one of their top players on either side of the ball are either inactive or banged up. Tread lightly, especially on a short week.
TNF INJURIES: Jordan Reed | Allen Lazard | Aaron Jones
Take a moment to catch your breath after reading about all those issues. Now consider that, since the tenures of San Francisco coach Kyle Shanahan and defensive coordinator Robert Saleh, the 49ers are 5-13 against teams that average 260 or more passing yards per game. They are 4-11 against teams averaging 375 total yards. The Packers average 265.7 passing yards and 394.5 total yards per game, and they rank third in the NFL in points (219).
While Green Bay has suffered some setbacks, the 49ers have essentially lost the majority of their top impact players. With four days between games, a bunch of backups on offense, and a brutal matchup, San Francisco will have trouble covering +7.5, never mind mounting an upset.
The BetQL Best Bet Model does like the Niners to cover the first-half spread +4, putting five-star confidence on an implied halftime score of around 13-10. The Model also projects a five-star rating on the Niners covering the full-game spread of +7.5. If Aaron Jones doesn’t play for the Packers, by all means bet the ‘dog. But if Jones and Allen Lazard return, it’s not advisable to bet against the Packers unless you buy extra points. I’m leaning 30-20 if Green Bay has Jones and Lazard, 27-23 if they remain inactive.
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