Free Pick Breakdown, Odds & Prediction: Commanders vs. 49ers (12/24/22) - Taking Vegas

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Free Pick Breakdown, Odds & Prediction: Commanders vs. 49ers (12/24/22)

By Ryan Potts
December 22, 2022
Photo by: Jonathan Newton - The Washington Post

Washington Commanders vs. San Francisco 49ers (12/24 @ 4:05 p.m. EST.)

Line: 49ers -7
Total: 37.5

Washington Commanders vs San Francisco 49ers Breakdown and Betting Odds

The Washington Commanders (7-6-1) and San Francisco 49ers (10-4) are squaring off in a potential playoff preview Saturday at 4:05 p.m. ET. The 49ers are 7-point favorites. The over/under is set at 37.5 points.

The 49ers lead the all-time series 21-12-1 including three wins in four playoff games. The teams last played in 2020 when the playoff-bound then-Washington Football Team knocked off the 49ers in a 49ers “home game” played in Glendale, Arizona. Since 2010, the 49ers have won five of seven matchups.

Washington Commanders Overview

The Commanders have been a tale of three seasons at this point. First, they began 1-4 with some pathetic offensive showings. Then, the schedule got slightly easier and the commanders ripped off six wins in seven games. Entering Week 13, the Commanders were in an enviable position – playing the reeling New York Giants twice surrounding a Week 14 bye. The Commanders were favored in both matchups, but they inexplicably tied the first matchup and then lost their home game. They had a golden opportunity to be 9-5 and playoff-bound, but they slipped, and now they have just a 35% chance to make the playoffs according to FiveThirtyEight.

The Commanders have deployed two quarterbacks in 2022 – Carson Wentz and Taylor Heinicke. Their performances are comically similar. Heinicke has made eight starts while Wentz made six. Heinicke has nine more pass attempts, one fewer interception, and a passer rating that is 3.6 points higher. They have the same number of passing touchdowns. However, Heinicke is a fan favorite and a quarterback who just wins. Despite playing on relatively lousy Commanders teams in the last two years, Heinicke has a winning record. Heinicke is something of a folk hero in Landover.

The rest of the offense makes more sense. The Commanders have a two-headed backfield with rookie Brian Robinson and Antonio Gibson. Robinson missed the first month of the season after being shot, but he has been slightly better over the course of his 159 rush attempts. However, Gibson has been the superior receiving threat, so both play a large role in the offense. In the receiving game, it is Terry McLaurin and the rest. McLaurin was selected to his first Pro Bowl after a 68-catch, 1,015-yard, three-touchdown start to the season. There are other capable pass catchers on the roster including Curtis Samuel, rookie Jahan Dotson, and the underutilized Dyami Brown, but McLaurin is the star.

The Commanders have won largely because of their defense. They rank in the top 10 in points allowed, yards allowed, and first downs allowed. They allowed at least 22 points in their first four games, but they now have not allowed more than 21 points since Week 4. They do not force too many turnovers, but they are great at getting off the field on third down. The Commanders are doing this without the services of Chase Young who has yet to return from an ACL tear in 2021. Instead, the Commanders have developed two star safeties in Kamren Curl and Darrick Forrest. The usually electric defensive line has been excellent. Daron Payne leads the team with 8.5 sacks. Jonathan Allen made the Pro Bowl with 7.5 sacks. Montez Sweat has tacked on 7.0 sacks.

The Commanders are 7-6-1 ATS. They began 1-4 ATS before ripping off a 6-0-1 run. However, they have failed to cover in each of the last two weeks. In their hot streak, they were underdogs in four consecutive games, winning three of four including an 11-point win over the then-undefeated Eagles as 11-point underdogs. On the other hand, the under has dominated, winning in 10 of 14 games. The over has not won since Week 10, the only over in the last seven Commanders games.

San Francisco 49ers Overview

The 49ers might be the hottest team in the NFL. Since losing to the Chiefs to fall to 3-4, the 49ers have ripped off seven wins in a row. Five of their seven wins have come by 13 or more points. The 49ers are one of the most well-rounded teams in the NFL, ranking among the league’s elite in a variety of metrics. They are a serious contender to win the Super Bowl. Last week, the 49ers clinched the NFC West with three weeks to play. They are the No. 3 seed in the NFC, but they are only one game behind the Vikings. The 49ers can be eliminated from top-seed consideration with a loss or an Eagles win, but that door has not closed just yet.

San Francisco’s offensive metrics are slightly misleading considering the slew of injuries they have faced, but the talent is plentiful. The 49ers rank 10th in scoring and seventh in total offense. Pro Bowler George Kittle is one of the best tight ends in the NFL. Brandon Aiyuk leads the team in catches, yards, and receiving touchdowns. Christian McCaffrey is a game-changer. The only offensive question is about rookie Brock Purdy. Purdy has made two starts, and he has a full-season passer rating of 100.6. If Purdy maintains this level, the 49ers could win out and go deep in the playoffs.

The 49ers have been infallible defensively since Week 7. They are first in points allowed, yards allowed, first downs allowed, rushing yards allowed, yards allowed per rush, and scoring percentage allowed. If it can be quantified, the 49ers probably perform well in the category. They have allowed 20 or fewer points in 12 of 14 games. Since the bye, the 49ers have allowed just over 10 points per game. They have allowed more than 322 yards in just one game for the whole season. They have forced multiple turnovers in four of five games. Nick Bosa stirs the defensive drink, racking up 15.5 sacks. Talanoa Hufanga has been a playmaker on the backend with six forced turnovers. Both Bosa and Hufanga are heading to the Pro Bowl with Kittle and linebacker Fred Warner. The unit as a whole has been one of the best in franchise history.

The 49ers are 9-5 ATS, but they have covered each of the last five weeks. As favorites, the 49ers are 9-3 straight up and 8-4 ATS. The under is 7-7, but the over hit in three of the last five weeks. The 49ers have scored 33 or more in three of the last five weeks, so they have been doing most of the work. On the other hand, they have not allowed more than 17 points since Week 7.

Free Pick: Under 37.5

Both teams have strong defenses with limited quarterbacks. The 49ers should win, and perhaps win by many points, but this game should also feature a slow pace led by the rushing attacks. With that said, Under 37.5 is a reasonable bet, hinging on the 49ers controlling the game and keeping the score in the 24-13 range. If the 49ers play the same game as they did last week against Seattle, the under will be quite profitable.

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