San Francisco 49ers (5) at Carolina Panthers (2)
by Ryan Kramer and Sean Green
Time: Sunday January 12th @ 10:05 AM Pacific
Location: Bank of America Stadium, Charlotte, NC
Weather: 53° and sunny
Radio: Westwood One (Kevin Kugler, James Lofton, Hub Arkush)
TV: FOX (Joe Buck, Troy Aikman)
Spread: 49ers -1
State Your Case: San Francisco 49ers
Matchup: San Francisco Defense vs Carolina Panthers Offense. Simply put Carolina’s offense has struggled to put up points against quality defenses. 6 points against Arizona, 7 points against Seattle, 10 points against the 49ers and 13 points against the Saints who’s defense does play well at home. 49ers were able to contain a superior offense in Green Bay and look to do the same against the Panthers who will try and score with their biggest weapon not 100%. Steve Smith has listed himself at 71% and that knee seems like it will be an issue come game time.
Situation: The Panthers have been winning but their last game against Atlanta was unimpressive and seem to show some complacency which is always troubling going into a bye in the playoffs. Since 9/22 the 49ers are 12-2, with their two losses coming against Carolina & New Orleans by a combined 4 points! They’ve also been beasts against the spread going 10-3-1 overall and 7-0-1 on the road.
Stats: Cam Newton may of been able to help lead the Panthers to a win against San Fran, but he finished with a very low 19.6 QBR and 50% completion percentage. Kaepernick will have Crabtree who was out week 10. With Crabtree, Bolid & Davis Kaepernick’s completion percentage jumps from 56% to 64%. SF healthy receiving corp will be a big advantage against Cam Newton and a banged up Steve Smith.
Donkey Trend: 49ers are 0-4 ATS their past four meetings. This 49er team is much better than they were earlier in the year against the Panthers and seem to be peaking at the right time.
Sharp Trend: 49ers are 5-0 ATS on the road versus teams with a winning records. Beating a quality opponent on the road is business as usual for the 49ers.
State Your Case: Carolina Panthers
Matchup: Luke Kuechly vs Colin Kaepernick. Lets keep this real simple, the only reason the 49ers beat the Packers is when they needed a play Kaepernick ran for a 1st down. Why was he able to convert almost every time, the stupid Packers werent even bother to put a spy on Kaepernick. Enter Luke Kuechly who has quickly claimed his spot as one of the NFLs best Linebacker. Look for Kuechly and his mates to use their sideline to sideline speed combined with a better scheme that includes a spy on Kaepernick. Contain Colin and win the game.
Situation: I LOVE this spot for Carolina. Going back to week 17 this will be the 3rd road game for the 49ers in a row. This will also be the 3rd extremely physical game in a row. Then include the extra travel and what you have is a relatively bad spot for the 49ers. Now flip to the Panters and the fact that they are coming off a week to rest where they saw Rick Flair turn his back on his home town team, so they are rested and motivated. I look for the Panthers D to look fresher and and the Offense to push the line of scrimmage.
Stats: I think people arent paying enough attention to how the 49ers a team who wants to run the ball has been very average at that aspect of the game this year(14th in Off Rush DVOA). The Panthers come into this game sporting one of the leagues top balanced Defenses(3rd in Overall Def DVOA, 3rd Def Pass DVOA and 6th Def Rush DVOA). Now in their 1st matchup week 10 the 49ers only managed to run for 105 yards with Bruce Miller, while holding Kaepernick to 16 yards. I dont see any reason to think they will fair any better with out their FB. and I think this defficiency will cause the Panthers to own the tempo and take the 49ers out of their game plan. Combine that with their more recent struggles since Bruce Miller week 15. *For more on DVOA check out the Football Outsiders
Donkey Trend:Cam Newton hasn’t won a big game. Stop it even ignoring the fact that he signal handedly beat Bama and won the National Championship at auburn, you dont win 8 in a row and 11 out of 12 in the NFL if you cant play. Hop on the CamWagon and get comfortable.
Sharp Trend: If you throw out the first game of the season against Seattle, Carolina is 7-0 SU and 6-0-1 ATS at home. Some times we over think it, this team just knows how to take care of business at home.
Ryan’s Pick: Panthers +1.
Ryan’s Score: Panthers 23 – 49ers 16.
Ryan’s Bonus: Colin Kaepernick Total Passing Yards U 217.5.
Sean’s Pick: Over 41.
Sean’s Score: 49ers 28 – Panthers 24.
Sean’s Bonus: Vernon Davis Receiving Yards Over 47.5.
Listen to the latest edition of the Sports Gambling Podcast for an entire Divisional Round breakdown.
Ryan Kramer and Sean Green are writers and co-hosts for the Sports Gambling Podcast. Follow the show on twitter @GamblingPodcast.