With the San Francisco 49ers visiting the New Orleans Saints in a crucial postseason-determining showdown, Niner Noise breaks down some of the betting odds and injuries for this Week 14 bout.
The San Francisco 49ers may need to win out over their final four games of the 2019 regular season if they want to reclaim the No. 1 seed atop the NFC, secure a first-round bye and guarantee home-field advantage in the playoffs.
One of the teams standing in the way of doing this, both figuratively and literally, is the 10-2 New Orleans Saints, whom the Niners visit in Week 14 this Sunday.
The Saints overtook San Francisco for the No. 1 seed in the conference, with the 49ers dropping all the way down to the No. 5 seed after the Seattle Seahawks’ win over the Minnesota Vikings on Monday Night Football.
New Orleans, Seattle and San Francisco are all 10-2, showcasing just how strong the NFC currently is.
Needless to say, Sunday’s contest between the 49ers and Saints is a vital one for both squads. And Niner Noise dishes out the latest bits of information for the bout, including betting odds, injuries and some serious matchups to watch.
49ers vs. Saints: Betting Odds and Lines
The Action Network currently lists the Niners as 2.5-point underdogs for this contest, which is interesting enough. Typically, home-field advantage is awarded three points by the odds makers, so this suggests San Francisco would be a favorite if the game was played at a neutral location.
The 49ers are currently 7-4-1 against the spread.
Interestingly enough, there isn’t a prediction for a high-scoring affair, per se, with the over/under set at 44.
And as far as the moneyline goes, the Niners are at plus-125, while the Saints are minus-145.
49ers Key Injuries
San Francisco is getting healthier at the right time, and there are number of existing injuries which might not be as serious as initially thought.
Cornerback Richard Sherman (knee), EDGE Dee Ford (hamstring), offensive tackle Joe Staley (finger), nose tackle D.J. Jones (ankle) and running back Matt Breida (ankle) were all able to participate in practice this week, which the Niners held in Florida ahead of traveling to New Orleans.
The 49ers were without wide receiver Dante Pettis (knee), defensive tackle Jullian Taylor (elbow) and safety Jaquiski Tartt (ribs), though, and the latter injury is probably the most significant. Pettis did return to practice later in the week, however.
Saints Key Injuries
New Orleans is dealing with a couple of notable injuries along its offensive line, specifically to veteran left tackle Terron Armstead, who has been ruled questionable with an ankle injury. Pro Bowl guard Andrus Peat (forearm) is also out for a number of weeks, too.
Nick Easton likely gets the start for Peat, while Patrick Omameh will fill in for Armstead.
Linebacker Kiko Alonso also missed practice with a thigh injury.
Matchups to Watch
The Saints’ banged-up offensive line plays into the 49ers’ favor, which should receive reinforcements with both Ford and Jones potentially returning from injury. San Francisco currently ranks second in the NFL with 45 sacks, while New Orleans enters the contest with the league’s No. 7-ranked O-line in pass protection, according to Football Outsiders.
Saints All-Pro wide receiver Michael Thomas is a must-watch in most games, although him going up against the Niners’ No. 1-ranked pass defense is going to be thrilling.
Same with wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders, who figures to have a favorable matchup against New Orleans’ nickel cornerback. P.J. Williams, when Sanders is operating out of the slot.
Fans will be paying attention to the quarterback battle, of course, which featured the 49ers’ Jimmy Garoppolo going against the future Hall of Famer, Drew Brees. But arguably a bigger facet will be which team’s ground game winds up performing better.
San Francisco is allowing 4.7 yards per rush, on average, which currently ranks 25th. In 2017, that would have been a problem, considering Saints running back Alvin Kamara averaged a league-best 6.1 yards per carry that year.
This season, amid injuries, he’s averaging 4.7 yards per carry. Perhaps the Niners defense is able to contain here, too.
The 49ers and Saints kick off on Sunday, Dec. 8 at 1 p.m. ET from the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans.