The San Francisco 49ers and Carolina Panthers played a very even game nearly two months ago, but the matchup between the 49ers’ offense and the Panthers’ defense was not very even. Can San Francisco change the dynamics of that particular “game within the game”?
NFC Divisional Playoff Game:
San Francisco 49ers @ Carolina Panthers – Sunday, January 12
Betting line: 49ers -1
Why San Francisco Will Win
No NCAA football betting analyst would challenge the claim that San Francisco’s offense has a lot to prove in this game against Carolina’s defense. The 49ers were smothered and straitjacketed in their 10-9 loss to the Panthers in November, a game that began a downward stretch for San Francisco, one that was damaging enough to keep coach Jim Harbaugh’s team from defending its NFC West title and gaining a first-round bye in the playoffs. Now, though, the 49ers have fought through the wild card round. They are in the divisional playoffs, which is the same place they would have been had they won the NFC West. The obvious difference is that the Niners are on the road, but they are still very much where they want to be. If they have to win games on the road to get back to the Super Bowl, that’s fine with them – they really don’t care. The bottom line for San Francisco is that it should feel confident about its ability to win this rematch with Carolina. Its offense should be able to score more than nine points. It should be able to move the ball with more consistency.
When you analyze your next sportsbook review, you will see that the 49ers have wide receiver Michael Crabtree back in the lineup. Crabtree is not a great downfield receiver who catches passes of 30 yards or more, but he’s a great possession receiver who wears out the 10- to 12-yard areas on a field and gives quarterback Colin Kaepernick something of a safety blanket. This is the missing piece, the piece the Niners didn’t have against Carolina the last time these teams met. It should make a difference, and if the Niners can get any takeaways from Carolina quarterback Cam Newton – who is making his first playoff start and could easily be very nervous – they will enhance their position even more.
Why Carolina Will Win
When people pursue a sports betting play, they have to realize that while one team might be better than another – and there’s strong reason to believe that San Francisco is the better team here – the externals of a matchup can swing the matchup to the underdog.
Football betting gurus who follow the NFL on a regular basis know that West Coast teams, when traveling to the Eastern time zone for an early kickoff, often struggle – not always, but often enough for the issue to be a concern. The 49ers, moreover, are not just flying to Charlotte in an isolated week. They’re flying to Charlotte after playing a severe cold-weather game in Green Bay… which is one week after the Niners flew to Phoenix to play the Arizona Cardinals (in the Phoenix suburb of Glendale, Ariz.) This Niner team could very well be fatigued – mentally more than physically – by all of the travel it has had to endure in recent weeks. Carolina, on the other hand, will be rested and fresh. In a game that is expected to be brutally physical, the Panthers might be the team that can win a four-quarter slugfest.
Who Will Win?
This feels like a close game all the way, but San Francisco will be motivated by revenge, something that will overcome the team’s fatigue. The Niners will use Michael Crabtree to move the ball more effectively against the Panthers’ defense and score a road win.
NFL Betting Pick: 49ers -1