The 49ers have a new “home” stadium in Arizona, and they will “host” the Buffalo Bills tonight on Monday Night Football. The Bills find themselves at the top of the AFC East with a record of 8-3, and the 49ers are trying to stay alive in the NFC West, as they come in at 5-6 but are coming off a big win against the Rams last week.
Week 13 Prime Time Picks: Bills (+106) vs 49ers (-1) O/U 47.5 – All lines via DraftKings
Prime Time Picks: 14-13-1
The Arizona 49ers
Because of further restrictions putting a ban all contact sports within Santa Clara county lines for three weeks, the 49ers will call State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Arizona their home for this Monday night game. The 2020 NFL season continues to be a wild ride, and this is the latest abnormal storyline affecting the NFL schedule. The 49ers are used to playing at State Farm Stadium, as the Cardinals are division rivals. Head coach Kyle Shanahan is 1-2 in this stadium, but the win came in the 49ers last trip there in October of 2019, as they took down the Cardinals 28-25.
Josh Allen Leading the Way
The Bills are leading the AFC East at 8-3, and a major part of their success has been the development of QB Josh Allen. After a solid season last year that got Buffalo into the playoffs, the Bills have taken a big step forward offensively thanks to Allen. The third-year QB has already surpassed his touchdown total from last season with 22 (he threw 20 last season), and there are still five games to go. He is also completing 68.8% of his passes this season, up a whopping 10% from last years 58.8%. He is leading a Buffalo offense that is 7th in the league with 271.1 passing yards per game, and scoring 27.2 points per game. The arrival of WR Stefon Diggs has certainly helped the passing game, as he is leading the team with 80 catches, 945 yards, and 4 TD’s. WR Cole Beasley is having a career year, and seems to always be open and make catches for big chunks of yards. Allen is also one of the more durable and versatile quarterbacks in the league, as his 6’ 5” 240 lb frame makes him very hard to bring down not only in the pocket, but also when he takes off to run. Allen has rushed 81 times for 311 yards and 6 TD’s on the season. He also leads the team in rushing first downs with 32. This versatility can be tough to defend, and his upgraded passing attack this season has really given this Bills offense a big step forward compared to last season. However, Allen has cooled down after a hot start to the season:
- First four games: 332.0 yards/game, 12 TD, 1 INT, 69.3% CMP, 9.1 YPA
- Last seven games: 243.1 yards/game, 10 TD, 7 TD, 67.5% CMP, 7.4 YPA
Bills Offense vs 49ers Defense
As good as the Bills offense can be, they have a tough assignment in this matchup going up against this 49ers defense, that despite some key injuries, is still playing well. San Francisco is 6th in total defense (315.2 yards/game), and 4th in passing defense (206.5 yards/game). Richard Sherman missed nine games, but returned last week and led a strong defensive effort for San Francisco against the Rams. The Niners were able to force four Los Angeles turnovers, and held them to just one offensive touchdown. They even had a pick-six from Javon Kinlaw. They are holding opponents to 23.1 points per game, and with Josh Allen throwing three interceptions over his last two games, there might be opportunities for the Niners to capitalize.
Creating turnovers will be key in this game. For the season, San Francisco is -4 in the turnover department, and their 20 total giveaways is 7th-most in the league. Their defense has been able to force six turnovers in their last two games, but their offense has turned it over seven times in those two games. Forcing turnovers doesn’t do too much unless you are able to take advantage of it on offense. Taking care of the ball offensively will be a key factor for the Niners in this one, as this Bills defense is still a quality one, but they are not the top-of-the-league defense that we say last season. The Bills are +1 in the turnover department, but they are 21st in total defense, allowing 373.1 yards per game. If the 49ers can take care of the football, and not beat themselves with turnovers, it will greatly help their chances to win this game.
Buffalo’s Penalty Problems
Just as the 49ers need to not beat themselves by turning the ball over, the Bills do not need to beat themselves with penalties. So far this season, the Bills are the 5th-most penalized team, as they have been flagged 77 times for 725 yards. That is 65.9 penalty yards per game, and in what figures to be a close game on Monday night, not giving away free yardage will be key. For San Francisco, they have played a little bit cleaner football this season, as they are the 24th-most penalized team.
The 49ers have been plagued by injuries all season, and their injury list looks like a Pro Bowl lineup. However, they do have WR’s Deebo Samuel and Brandon Aiyuk back, along with RB Raheem Mostert, so QB Nick Mullens will have some weapons to work with that haven’t been there in recent weeks. Samuel made an immediate impact in his return to the lineup last week, catching 11 passes for 133 yards. The Bills are 8-3, the same record they had last season at this time, but they faltered down the stretch going 2-3 in their last five. They have played good football in recent weeks, and have won four of their last five, with the one loss being the “Hail Murray” in the same stadium they are playing in here. However, they are beginning a tough stretch as three of their next four games are on the road, and they have a massive tilt next week against the currently 11-0 Steelers on Sunday Night Football. Could they be looking ahead a bit? It could be tough to focus on this game at a neutral field against a non-conference opponent. I really like Kyle Shanahan and his play-calling abilities, and with some of his top guys back on offense, I think he will have a solid game plan going into this one. The Bills defense has taken a step back this season, and I think Shanahan will be able to dial up a way to take advantage. I don’t think the 49ers are ready to give up on their playoff hopes, and I see them coming out playing extremely hard. I think they have the edge defensively, and as long as they can take care of the ball, I like their chances. The 49ers can run the ball well, and the Bills are weak against the run, coming in at 24th in the league. The Bills penalty problems could also be an issue that helps San Francisco. Buffalo has really struggled in prime time, going 1-5-1 ATS in their last seven, and 0-3-1 ATS in their last four Monday night games. San Francisco is 11-3 SU on Monday Night Football since 2010. I’m taking the Niners.
Title Photo: Getty Images