How Andy Dalton, Saints spoil 49ers win streak in Week 12

Andy Dalton #14 of the New Orleans Saints (Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images)
Andy Dalton #14 of the New Orleans Saints (Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images) /

6-4. 49ers -9. 4:25 p.m. ET. Fox. Sunday, Nov. 27. 15. 42. 4-7

The 49ers hope to avoid the trap game against the Saints in Week 12, and Andy Dalton could be the thorn in the Niners’ side that ends the winning streak.

The San Francisco 49ers have every reason to beat the New Orleans Saints in Week 12 this Sunday.

Of course, the Niners had every reason to beat the lowly Chicago Bears back in Week 1 or the lousy Denver Broncos back in Week 3, too. And while those games seem like a lifetime ago, San Francisco nevertheless played down to the level of its competition in those two bouts.

Despite a three-game win streak, including the Monday Night Football drubbing of the Arizona Cardinals, head coach Kyle Shanahan’s squad could fall victim to another inferior opponent this Sunday, the 4-7 New Orleans Saints.

Technically, the Saints aren’t out of the NFC South race, not with the division-leading Tampa Bay Buccaneers boasting a mere 5-5 record. But in all honesty, quarterback Andy Dalton and Co. are looking at the spoiler role for the rest of the regular season.

And they’d love nothing more than to spoil the 49ers’ chances of a deep playing run, particularly after having already gone 2-1 against the rest of the NFC West with victories over the Los Angeles Rams and Seattle Seahawks.

The Niners are nine-point home favorites in this game, according to the oddsmakers over at WynnBET.

However, if Dalton and the Saints wind up getting an upset, here’s how it’ll play out.

Andy Dalton, Saints will focus on being fast vs. 49ers defense

Stop if you’ve heard this before: Arizona’s hope back in Week 11 was to have quarterback Colt McCoy deliver the ball quickly after taking the snap, thereby not allowing San Francisco’s vaunted pass rush to get home.

Over the first quarter-plus, it worked. McCoy regularly was hitting wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins to great effect, and that helped negate 49ers pass-rushers like Nick Bosa to a large extent.

New Orleans’ offensive line hasn’t been particularly great in pass protection, and Football Outsiders ranks it 17th in the NFL in this category with an adjusted sack rate of 7.4 percent. Understanding that Bosa and the rest of the Niners’ defensive front is the most formidable group of coordinator DeMeco Ryans’ defense, it’s likely Dalton and the Saints offense is called upon those quick throws, also mixing in screens and other plays to take advantage of an aggressive pass rush.

Statistically, Dalton’s plays have worked out well when he’s getting the ball out quickly this season, too.

Over his eight starts this year, Dalton is completing 73.4 percent of his passes with a passer rating of 110.8 when the ball is out in less than 2.5 seconds, which stands in serious contrast to the 55.7 completion percentage and 71.3 rating when that time threshold is crossed.

Read More: 49ers vs. Saints: Betting odds, prediction for Week 12 game

Granted, Dalton doesn’t have a Hopkins-like weapon in New Orleans, especially with wide receiver Michael Thomas again sidelined with an injury. But rookie wide receiver Chris Olave has been special with 760 receiving yards on 51 catches, and the dual-threat prowess of running back Alvin Kamara is always going to be there, too, especially with his 896 multipurpose yards on the season.

One might figure those two play a vital role in the ball coming out from Dalton quickly.

It’d be a tall order. But, should the Saints keep that up effectively enough for three-plus quarters, the Niners may have a tough time keeping pace and limiting offensive drives.

That might end up spoiling San Francisco’s win streak, as hard as it is to predict such a thing happening.

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