The 2-3 New England Patriots play hosts to last year’s SuperBowl runner ups San Francisco 49er. As their records suggest, both teams have struggled to find the kind of consistency they would have wanted early this season and neither have been helped by key injuries and other personnel issues. This is an important game for 2 teams who are still no doubt harbouring ambitions of making the playoffs. Can the offensive creativity of Kyle Shanahan overcome the defensive genius of Bill Belichick?
Money line: 49ers 11/8 Patriots 6/10
Points Spread: Patriots -3
Again, nothing stands out to me there. If the SF run game can find their rhythm this could be a higher scoring game than many people would predict. Both teams to score a TD and FG in each half is an interesting one at 22/1
If you do a quick scroll through the 49ers depth chart, the name that stands out for fantasy players is that of George Kittle. The big Tight End is almost unplayable at times and has the ability to tear defences apart with his combination of size, speed and aggression. He does however face a Patriot defense who have built their names on being experts at shutting down team’s primary weapons. So, handle with care.
While Deebo Samuel returned week 4 against the Eagles, fantasy owners didn’t see any real return on their investment until last week. His chances of making further impact this week will be seriously hampered by the fact that when he lines up, he will most likely be starring at reigning defensive MVP Stephon Gilmore across from him. Rookie Brandon Aiyuk may provide the biggest chance of fantasy points amongst the Niners receivers, especially if they get him involved in the run game.
At running back, the 49ers usually prefer a committee approach but Raheem Mostert remains out and Jeff Wilson is questionable so Jerick McKinnon and JaMycal Hasty will provide the threat on the ground. The versatility of McKinnon in particular could be a valuable weapon if they are to unlock the Pats defense. A banged up offensive line doesn’t do their cause any favours however.
The Patriots also prefer a more committee-based backfield but, unlike San Fran, they have their full compliment of backs available. You will see receiver Julien Edelman’s name listed as questionable for the game but don’t buy too much into that, he is fully expected to play without any hinderance. The bigger question is whether QB Cam Newton can feed him enough.
Cam’s form has been fairly inconsistent so far this year. Most of his most telling work comes on the ground, running for 5 TD’s so far this year while he has only thrown 2. Expect a heavy dose of read option to keep the 49ers defense on their toes.
The biggest fantasy asset the Patriots have may be that defense. Despite suffering from a list of big-name injuries, covid opt-outs and offseason departures that would cripple most defences, they have remained one of the leagues better ones.
This game is a nightmare to predict. The form of both teams has been erratic for various reasons and they both have the ability to be produce big performances when logic would dictate that they would struggle. While the physical battle will go a long way to deciding the Steelers and Titans game, tactical warfare comes to the fore in this contest. And it’s hard to bet against the old master Bill Belichick in that regard.
Patriots by 9