The best part about this time of year is that several teams are fighting for their playoff lives. Week 14 features the San Francisco 49ers taking on the Cincinnati Bengals. NFL odds currently have the 49ers as 1.5 point favorites. So let’s take a closer look at the 49ers’ offense before the game.
49ers on the Road
The Week 13 loss to the Seattle Seahawks dented the 49ers’ playoff hopes. But at 6-6, they are still in the mix and sitting in the 7th seed of the NFC. So San Francisco still maintains control of their destiny; they’re in if they continue to win.
The 49ers are 4-2 in away games. In their last three road games, the San Francisco 49ers have scored 86 points for an average of 28.6 points per game. Yet, the 49ers have given up 62 points in those road games.
San Francisco 49ers Offense
Running against the Bengals’ 4th-ranked rush defense is a difficult task. But if Eli Mitchell can’t go on Sunday because of knee issues and a concussion, that job may get more challenging. In the nine games he’s played, Mitchell has carried most of the rushing load with 169 carries for 759 yards and a 4.6-yard average.
Deebo Samuel, who is also questionable this week, is another critical piece of the 49ers offense, averaging 91.5 per game, 1005 yards, and five Tds.
If Deebo Samuel can’t play, Jimmy Garoppolo (2641 yards, 15 TDs, eight INTs) will need to rely more on George Kittle. Kittle had five catches for 121 yards and two TDs last week in Seattle.
The Cincinnati Bengals have the 27th ranked defense in passing yards allowed per game but the fourth-best defense in rushing yards per game. So if Mitchell isn’t able to play, I expect the 49ers to throw the ball early and often.
One significant advantage that the 49ers’ have is that their offense has a 75.8% efficiency rating in the red zone, which leads the NFL. On the other hand, Cincinnati ranks 14th in defensive efficiency in the red zone, so San Francisco should have some success down there.
Scoring Against the Bengals
Last week at home to the Los Angles Chargers, the Bengals gave up 24 unanswered points in the first half. Of those points, 16 were scored in the first quarter. In their last three games, Cincinnati has given up 7.3 points in the first quarter, which is tied for the fourth-highest in the NFL.
In their previous three games, they’re also third in the NFL for points allowed in the first half with 18. If San Francisco can take an early lead, it could force Cincinnati into passing the ball, playing to the 49ers’ defensive strength. San Fran allows the fourth-fewest passing yards per game (205.1). Joe Burrow also leads the league in interceptions thrown with 14, giving the 49ers a greater chance at forcing turnovers if the Bengals start passing.
49ers vs. Bengals (+1.5)
In this game, I believe that the 49ers’ ability to pass the ball against the Bengals’ pass defense will allow them to jump out to an early lead. I think that this makes them a good selection for this week’s King of the Weekend event.
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