Washington Football Team, on the back of a good win last time, are on the road to an ailing San Francisco 49ers on Sunday (4:25pm ET on Fox).
Washington is coming off their biggest win of the season and arguably their most impressive performance. They were able to go into Pittsburgh and hand the Steelers their first defeat, overcoming a 14-3 halftime deficit to win 23-17.
Prior to this blown lead Pittsburgh was 78-1-1 when up by 14 points or more at home. WFT looks to notch its fourth victory in a row this week and keep pace in the division with the New York Giants.
San Francisco 49ers will look to rebound this week after being trounced by the Buffalo Bills on Monday Night Football. The Niners’ playoff hopes are now on life support at 5-7. If the season were to end today they would be eliminated. They are sitting tied with the Bears, Lions and Washington. All are chasing the Vikings (6-6) for the last playoff spot.
Must Win Game for Both
This is a massive game for both teams if they want to stay in the playoff hunt. The Niners’ path to a berth is a much more difficult one than Washington who has the same record as the division-leading Giants currently. The Giants hold the tiebreaker over Washington after beating them head to head twice.
One significant injury to consider this week is on the Washington side. They lost starting running back Antonio Gibson to a toe injury last week and he is doubtful to play this week. Gibson leads the team in rushing yards (659) and rushing touchdowns (11). Next closest in yards is J.D. McKissic (231) and in rushing touchdowns is Peyton Barber (3). This loss cannot be understated, but J.D. McKissic looked promising filling in last week. The reserve running back had 10 receptions for 70 yards in their win versus the Steelers.
The run game was nonexistent, but the Steelers’ defense is one of the top units against the ground game. They will likely have a difficult time on the ground again this week against a Niners’ defense that is ranked 9th in average rushing yards allowed per game (106.4). San Francisco is also ranked 10th in average passing yards allowed per game (219.9), but they rank 18th in average yards allowed per attempt (6.9).
Washington will have to try to beat the Niners through the air by getting some big plays from their best weapon, Terry McLaurin. The star wide receiver leads Washington in targets (108), receptions (71) and receiving yards (977). McLaurin ranks 8th in the NFL in receiving yards this season. Tight end Logan Thomas leads the team in receiving touchdowns (5).
One positive for the Washington offense is the lack of pass rush by the Niners. Alex Smith should have plenty of time in the pocket to go through his route progressions and make plays in the passing game. San Francisco ranks 21st and only averages 1.8 sacks per game. This should take a lot of pressure off the Washington offensive line and allow the passing game to have success.
The 49ers won’t have an easier time moving the ball against a strong Washington defense. Washington was able to hold the Steelers to only 17, which was well below their season average. Before last week the Steelers were averaging 28.8 points per game through their first 11 games.
Like the Niners, the Washington defense is strong against both the run and the pass. This is one of the strongest secondary’s in the NFL and they only allow an average of 203.8 passing yards per game, which is good for 3rd in the NFL.
Washington also ranks 10th in the league in average rushing yards allowed per game (107.1). One of the biggest differences between these two defensive units is Washington’s dominant pass rush, which is tied for 3rd in average sacks per game (3.0). I think this will be a huge advantage against a Niners’ offensive line that gives up on average 2.2 sacks per game.
Look for San Francisco to establish the run game with their tandem of running backs in order to try to protect reserve quarterback Nick Mullens. In eight games this season Mullens has thrown nine interceptions and has been sacked 13 times. In comparison Lions’ quarterback Matthew Stafford and Colts’ quarterback Philip Rivers each have nine interceptions, but both have played 12 games. I expect the Washington pass rush to cause havoc, which will likely result in several sacks and a turnover or two.
Our Betting Preview’s WFT vs Niners Predictions & Picks Verdict
USAbetting is going to be playing the road underdog Washington Football Team and the under. We would play this down to +3pts but grabbed the key number of +3.5pts earlier in the week. Anything below +3pts and I would look to just play Washington to win the game on the moneyline.
The total points is currently sitting at over/under 43 with the main USA sportsbooks. I think both teams will have a difficult time moving the ball against such strong defenses, but that the Washington pass rush will be the key to the game. Expect them to get after Mullens and make it difficult for San Francisco to work the ball down field against a strong Washington secondary. Washington has a good chance of winning this game outright, but we wanted to take the points to be safe because we see this as a competitive and close affair. I see this as a 20-17 victory for the road team, which would cover both the spread and under. So these are USAbetting’s Washington vs 49ers predictions and betting picks for this Sunday NFL game preview: