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First Place in NFC on the Line When 49ers Visit Saints

The well-rested Saints can overtake San Francisco in the NFC standings when they host the 49ers on Sunday. New Orleans has been off since clinching the NFC South last Thursday with a win at Atlanta. The 49ers are coming off their second loss in four games, falling on a last-second field goal in Baltimore.

San Francisco 49ers vs New Orleans Saints
  • Date/Time: December 8, 1 p.m. ET
  • Stadium: Mercedes-Benz Superdome
  • TV Coverage: FOX
  • Opening Odds: New Orleans -3.5 | O/U 44.5
  • 49ers vs Saints Matchup Report

Opening Odds Analysis

Both of San Francisco’s losses this year have come by a field goal, so sharp money was quick to pounce on the opener of 49ers +3.5. As of Monday night, most books were shading the juice toward San Francisco +3, and some had even moved to 49ers +2.5.

San Francisco News & Notes

Two-thirds of the way through a three-game stretch vs division leaders, the 49ers need to feel pretty good about how their defense stacks up. San Fran followed up a 37-8 dismantling of Green Bay in Week 12 with a hard-fought 20-17 defeat last week at Baltimore, losing on a 49-yard field goal on the game’s final play.

The Niners defense lived up to its No. 1 ranking, holding Lamar Jackson to just 206 total yards and forcing the first fumble of the season from the Ravens’ phenom quarterback. One of Baltimore’s two touchdowns came on a short field after a Jimmy Garoppolo fumble, and the last-second field goal accounted for the Ravens’ only points in the second half.

Unfortunately, the loss took its toll on 49ers defenders Jaquiski Tartt, D.J. Jones, Richard Sherman and Jullian Taylor, all of whom are day to day after suffering injuries. Also, San Francisco’s offense continues to struggle on the road, scoring less than 21 points for the third time in the last four games.

Other than a career-high 146 rushing yards from Raheem Mostert, the 49ers gained just 185 yards of offense on the day, and only 157 through the air. They also failed to convert a fourth-and-one in the fourth quarter, setting up Baltimore’s winning drive.

New Orleans News & Notes

The Saints have already locked up first place in the NFC South, but New Orleans still has plenty to play for. A win over San Francisco would give the Saints the top spot in the NFC and potential home-field advantage throughout the conference playoffs, something veteran QB Drew Brees has been sure to remind his teammates of since New Orleans’ 26-18 win over Atlanta last Thursday.

“There’s still a lot to be desired,” said Brees, who has thrown seven touchdowns and just one interception in four games since returning from a midseason thumb injury.

Like the 49ers, much of New Orleans’ best work this year has come on the defensive side of the ball. The Saints recorded nine sacks in their win at Atlanta — four of them coming from Cameron Jordan — as they held an opponent under 20 points for the fifth time in their last nine.

Betting Pick: Saints -3

This is a tough spot for San Francisco, playing its second straight road game against an elite opponent, while the Saints have had nine days off to prepare.

Shark Bites
  • The 49ers are 4-0 ATS in their last 4 games as road underdogs.
  • The Saints are 9-1 SU and 8-2 ATS in their last 10 games.
  • The Saints are 2-7 ATS in their last 9 games as home favorites.