Free NFL Picks San Francisco at Atlanta 10-3-2010

September 30, 2010

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San Francisco 49ers at Atlanta Falcons

October 3rd 2010 1 PM EST

The Line: Atlanta -7

Overview:

The Falcons are coming off a road victory against the New Orleans Saints. The Niners just got blown out by the Chiefs. When the two teams met last year, San Francisco was blown out 45-10. They made some improvements on their team, or so it seemed, but will they be able to compete with Atlanta on the road?

Key Points:

  • The 49ers never win on the road unless they are playing someone in the division. That’s correct, I used the word never. The last time they won a road victory out of the division it was week 13 of 2008. Before that it was at Denver in 2006. Road victories for the 49ers against someone other than their division have been a rarity. Saying they are going to turn around their 0-3 season against a talented Atlanta team, especially after traveling to the east coast, is a stretch. The 49ers went 6-2 at home last year. They dropped one close game at home this year, but regardless of who they play away, they have the disadvantage.
  • Mike Johnson is more well received amongst his team than former OC Jimmy Raye. After Raye was fired after just three weeks, Johnson gets his first shot at the offensive coordinator job against a tough opponent, one he used to work for. Vernon Davis used the word “hungry” to describe Johnson. This of course is better than the terms media outlets used to define Raye, “out-dated, predictable, etc.” Johnson should do a better job with the play calling than Raye. Maybe 49er fans won’t have to see an offense that looks like it is being called thirty years ago. This is a great switch up for the 49ers, though I think it will take a few weeks to get it where they want it. Raye had the whole off season and the previous year. Johnson has had since Monday to prepare.
  • Michael Turner is exactly the kind of back the 49ers defense loves to defend. For whatever reason, Adrian Peterson has always struggled against the 49ers. Turner, who I see as a slower, less powerful version of Peterson, should struggle to get big plays going. The 49ers struggle against what I’ll describe as a scat back. Jamaal Charles, Chris Johnson, and Reggie Bush are backs that love open space. If the outside linebackers can’t get a seal on the outside, those backs could take it to the house on any play. The 49ers like backs that try to run up the middle and then cut outside. Turner fits this description. Willis was taken out of the game last week. Even though he did accumulate his tackles, many of them were 10+ yards down the field, rather than a yard in the backfield. Turner is a one cut runner. If he isn’t accounted for on every play, they will struggle all game long.
  • Nate Clements needs to prove he is worth even half of his 90 million dollar contract. Thus far he has been a disappointment. This week, he is going to get the ball thrown at him. Matt Ryan throws the ball at Roddy White every single game, regardless of who is out there. He makes no secret about the fact that White is his go to guy. Before San Fran, Clements had the nickname “Lock Down”, because of his amazing cover corner skills. White has been targeted 41 times. That is unspeakable number. If Clements is the corner he says he is, having the guy you are matched up against get the ball thrown in your direction ten or so times should be a great thing. White won’t always be covered by Clements, but the 49ers don’t shy away from giving him the big time play maker. In 2008, Terrell Owens racked up 213 yards by picking on Clements. Hopefully Clements can get a jam on White, though he gives up size.

Wrap Up:

This one isn’t too hard to call. I think the 49ers are now on the right track. They will probably lose on the road and Singletary might end up in the hot seat, but the team could find its stride against the Raiders in the following week with the new offensive coordinator. I like the Falcons here, but sometimes what is more appealing when making my sports picks is the over/under. The 49ers should score more than they did the last few weeks because of the play calling switch. The Falcons will undoubtedly put up a number close to 28. The over/under is only 43. Seeing a combined score over 50 would not shock me in this one.

Free NFL Pick: Over 43


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