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Laying the points with George Kittle potentially returning for the 49ers

The 49ers and Packers square off with the No. 1 seed on the line. Here’s why I’m taking the 49ers to cover the field goal spread.

Jimmy Garoppolo the San Francisco 49ers throws the ball to George Kittle against of the Arizona Cardinals at State Farm Stadium on October 31, 2019 in Glendale, Arizona. Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images

The San Francisco 49ers square off with the Green Bay Packers on Sunday Night Football in Week 12, in what is a monstrous matchup. The winner takes hold of the No. 1 seed in the NFC, and for the loser, they either drop into a tie in their division (Packers, with Vikings on bye) or could drop into a tie (49ers, with Seahawks playing Eagles). Consider the drop from No. 1 to wild card potentially at stake, this is a big one.

The 49ers are currently a field goal favorite in this game at DraftKings Sportsbook. They’re the home team and have the best record in the NFC, and yet they’re only laying three points. What gives?

The injury report is going to be key in this one. It sounds like George Kittle could return, and if he’s back, that’s a huge deal for this 49ers offense. He’s a key playmaker in the passing game, but he’s also critical as a run blocker. His return now that Kyle Juszczyk is also big will be big for the 49ers ground game.

At the same time, the Packers pass rush could make life miserable for Jimmy Garoppolo and company. The Packers rank tenth in adjusted sack rate and have Preston Smith ranked fourth and Za’Darius Smith ranked seventh in total sacks. With Joe Staley sidelined with a broken finger, these two will be critical to disturbing the peace in the backfield.

On the other side of the ball, the big question is how the 49ers rush defense will handle Aaron Jones and Jamaal Williams. The 49ers got off to a strong start this season stopping the run, but now rank 19th in defensive efficiency. The Packers rank fourth in offensive rushing efficiency. The 49ers loss of linebacker Kwon Alexander stings, and this game will be a big test of the depth of that front seven.

Pick against the spread

I’ve gone back and forth on this game. Getting Aaron Rodgers as an underdog is enticing. He’s rarely an underdog and the 49ers are a little banged up. And of course, the Packers are coming off a strong win over the Carolina Panthers last week. The public is backing the Packers, and I could see it staying the same heading into the weekend.

However, I’m going to lay the points at -3 with the 49ers. If you’re going to bet on this, get it before sharp money potentially moves it to 3.5 points. There is some value on a 9-1 team only laying a field goal at home. I think the Packers are feeling pretty good coming into this, and the public is backing them after the 49ers had to battle back from a 16-0 deficit to Arizona. There’s some value to be had if you can get this before the line potentially moves after the final injury report.

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