SAN FRANCISCO (-2.5) 19 Atlanta 16
The 49ers are one Brett Favre miracle pass away from being 4-0, but they're actually a slightly worse than average team until RB Frank Gore comes back or the offensive line starts blocking better for rookie Glen Coffee (just 2.3 ypr). The Niners have been very good defensively in holding opponents to 4.4 yards per play (those teams would combine to average 5.2 yppl against an average team), but the offense has averaged just 4.7 yppl for the season (against teams that would allow 5.5 yppl to an average team) and I rate that attack at 1.3 yppl worse than average without Gore.
Quarterback Shaun Hill, however, is a winner that is 10-4 lifetime as a starter and his tendency to avoid turnovers (just 1 interception thrown this season) is a key component of coach Singletary's formula of ball control offense, strong defense and limiting turnovers. The Falcons were an overrated team entering the season and they're even worse than I projected so far.
Atlanta has been just average offensively in 3 games (5.4 yppl against teams that would allow 5.3 yppl to an average team) and their defense is 0.5 yppl worse than average (5.7 yppl allowed to teams that would average 5.2 yppl).
My math model favors San Francisco by 2 1/2 points, but I'll lean slightly with the Niners at -2 1/2 or less based on Hill's unbeaten 7-0 record at home (6-0-1 ATS).
Read more on my website www.drbobsports.com
I have 9 NCAA Best Bets and 2 NCAA Strong Opinions this week, and 1 NFL Best Bet and 2 NFL Strong Opinions!
Read an article about me in the Wall Street Journal