NFL experts overwhelmingly pick 49ers to beat Commanders in Week 16
By Peter Panacy
Niner Noise takes a look around the NFL to see what the experts say about the 49ers’ Week 16 home matchup against the playoff-hopeful Commanders.
San Francisco 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan has a notably tough decision to make on Saturday, Dec. 24, when the 7-6-1 Washington Commanders come to Levi’s Stadium.
Should Shanahan recognize the fact his team trails the No. 2-seeded Minnesota Vikings by only one game in the NFC playoff picture, thereby treating this contest against Washington with the kind of intensity that would require playing his best talent in an all-out effort to win?
Or should Shanahan mitigate the ever-present injury risk and rest his starters?
Based on the head coach’s comments earlier this week, it seems as if Shanahan won’t be resting players just for the sake of doing so, rather he’ll look solely at those who are dealing with injuries and make a determination there.
As such, the Niners will be at relatively full strength on Saturday while looking to extend their seven-game win streak with a victory over Washington.
Having last played on Thursday, Dec. 15, San Francisco’s “mini” bye week should hopefully afford quarterback Brock Purdy and Co. a little bit of extra rest and recovery, while Shanahan could use the added time to better prepare for a Commanders club that is hanging onto a Wild Card spot by the slimmest of margins.
Is Washington poised to come to town and upset the 49ers after suffering a tough primetime loss to the New York Giants last Sunday night?
Not according to the experts.
49ers vs. Commanders: NFL experts wholly pick San Francisco in Week 16
An offensively challenged Commanders squad doesn’t match up well against the Niners’ No. 1-ranked defense. However, Washington might be able to stay in the game by virtue of its own defense, which is a top-10 unit.
If Purdy gets into some trouble and makes mistakes, perhaps that’s how an upset forms.
Although NFL experts aren’t predicting anything of the sort. At least not based on how well San Francisco has played as of late.
NFL predictions for 49ers vs. Commanders
Gregg Rosenthal, NFL.com — Niners 24, Commanders 13
"Perfect matchup for San Francisco. The Commanders’ defensive front will be a stern test for Brock Purdy and a San Francisco offensive line that could use challenges before the playoffs. But the Commanders shouldn’t threaten the 49ers’ quest for the No. 2 seed largely because Taylor Heinicke is likely to force the issue and turn the ball over against this defense."
Eric Moody, ESPN — Niners 25, Commanders 13
"The Niners are NFC West champs, but the Commanders still have a lot on the line. ESPN’s FPI gives them a 35% chance to make the playoffs. Win, and that will go up to 65%. Lose? Expect a drop to 22%."
Pete Prisco, CBS Sports — Niners 25, Commanders 14
"This is a tough trip for Washington against a team that will have four extra days of rest. Washington is struggling on offense, which is never a good thing against a 49ers defense that is the best in the NFL. Look for that defense to shine again with Brock Purdy doing enough to win it."
Mike Florio, Pro Football Talk — Niners 24, Commanders 10
"The 49ers have the No. 2 seed within reach. The Commanders are teetering on the brink of missing the playoffs."
Read More: 49ers vs. Commanders: Betting odds, prediction for Week 16 game
What’s interesting is seeing just how similar each expert’s final-score prediction is, particularly with San Francisco scoring either 24 or 25 points in the game.
That jives with the 49ers’ recent scoring averages, combined with Washington having a fairly good defense. But it also suggests the Niners cover the current spread of 6.5 points.
Either way, San Francisco will be looking to take advantage of the added rest and home-field advantage for Saturday’s contest, which kicks off from Levi’s Stadium at 4:05 p.m. ET.