Does it make sense to trust the 49ers as big favorites?

San Francisco 49ers quarterback Brock Purdy scrambles out of the bag during an NFL football game against the Seattle Seahawks, Thursday, December 15, 2022, in Seattle.  The 49ers won 21-13.  (AP Photo/Stephen Brashear)
Brock Purdy and the 49ers are in a sweet spot against Washington on Saturday. (AP Photo/Stephen Brashear)

We are in the last three weeks of the season and the playoff races are starting to take shape. Most teams’ motivation is high, as they either fight for their postseason life or try to position themselves for the top seed possible. While three weeks may seem like a decent amount of time left, that’s far from the reality. The last week of the year is typically a handicapping nightmare, so we’ll be missing a full 16-game competitive streak soon enough. So let’s take advantage of some solid matchups on the board. These are the first two bets I’ve placed for Week 16.

I absolutely love this place for the 49ers. The Commanders paid punters left and right after Weeks 6-12’s 6-0-1 ATS. But after falling short of market expectations over the past two weeks against a mediocre Giants team, it looks like they are still getting credit in the market. Washington looks like a team that is unraveling. Whether it’s Coach Ron Rivera’s anger at the officiating or his comments sparking a quarterback controversy, nothing coming out of Washington gives me confidence that it will be ready for the 49ers.

The Commanders went 1-of-10 on third downs Sunday night against a Giants defense that allowed the Eagles 48 points the previous week. QB Taylor Heinicke struggled mightily under pressure and coughed up the football twice, resulting in the Giants touchdown once. How do we expect the Commanders to fare against the NFL’s best defense? It gets ugly fast.

Washington’s mediocre rushing offense (15th in hit rate) will struggle to get anything against the league’s best-running defense. The 49ers could easily knock Heinicke off the beat by making the offense one-dimensional, forcing him to play hero ball resulting in drive-killing negative plays or worse. Turnover can be the great equalizer for underdogs or, in this case, the fuel for favorites covering wide spreads. I have every confidence that the 49ers will win the revenue battle as new quarterback Brock Purdy did a great job protecting the football. Purdy has yet to throw an interception in one of his two NFL starts. It’s awkward laying down a touchdown with a favorite in a league where big dogs cover at high speed, but when San Francisco wins, it wins big. In the 49ers’ 10 wins, the average margin of victory is 17.3 points, with all but one win over seven points. Grab the 49ers now in case this number continues to rise throughout the week.

We’re not betting on Zach Wilson anymore. Last Sunday I showed value on the Jets hosting the Red Hot Lions. I learned a valuable lesson that New York cannot score points with Wilson at the helm, no matter what quality of defense he faces. That becomes a problem if the Jets plan to keep up with Trevor Lawrence.

The Jaguars’ defense is vulnerable everywhere. It is 28th in defensive DVOA, 32nd against the pass, and it is the second worst tackle unit in the league. However, you can’t support the Jets in this spot without a quarterback who can take advantage of the Jaguars’ biggest weakness.

Jacksonville is on a two-game winning streak and is now mastering playoff fate after Trevor Lawrence led his team back from 17 points to knock out a top contender in the NFC. Meanwhile, the Jets’ postseason odds have plummeted after dropping their last three games. So take the team that believes in its quarterback. It’s Jaguars +1 or moneyline as they win it outright.

Statistics provided by Teamrankings, Rbsdm, Football Outsiders.

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