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Taking the points in a potential trap game for the 49ers

The 49ers are on a roll but in a spot between big games. They probably win, but here’s why they probably don’t cover.

Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan speaks with offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan after the game against the Green Bay Packers in the 2017 NFC Championship Game at the Georgia Dome. Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

The San Francisco 49ers host the Atlanta Falcons in a Week 15 matchup that has a lot at stake for the 49ers, and not a whole lot for the Falcons. The 49ers need a win to maintain their lead in the NFC playoff race with the Seahawks, Saints, and Packers all breathing down San Francisco’s neck. Meanwhile, the Falcons are in the mix for a top five draft pick, but could end up anywhere from three to the low teens given the bunch there.

The 49ers are 10.5-point favorites at DraftKings Sportsbook and the point total is 48.5. The line opened at 11 and stayed there much of the week, but has dropped a half point heading into the weekend. The 49ers are -480 on the money line, while the Falcons are +400. The 49ers are 8-4-1 against the spread this season, and have gone over the point total six times. The Falcons are 5-8 ATS and have gone over the point total five times.

Injury report

The Falcons placed Calvin Ridley and Desmond Trufant on injured reserve this week, and could be without guard James Carpenter for a second straight week. Their list of questionable players is lengthy, with the following limited on Thursday: LB De’Vondre Campbell (calf), DE Adrian Clayborn (back), RB Devonta Freeman (knee), WR Julio Jones (shoulder), CB Isaiah Oliver (shoulder), G Wes Schweitzer (shoulder).

The 49ers will likely be without edge rusher Dee Ford, cornerback Richard Sherman, and defensive tackle D.J. Jones, and could be without strong safety Jaquiski Tartt and nickel back K’Waun Williams. They’re getting healthier on offense, but now find themselves dealing with a host of defensive injuries.

Pick against the spread

I’m a big, fat 49ers homer, but I’m taking the points this week. Kyle Shanahan might want to make a statement against the team he helped guide to the Super Bowl, but I don’t imagine there’s any real bad blood for him — unlike revenge games against Washington.

Both teams are plenty banged up, so I don’t think injuries are necessarily the reason to lay or take the points. Rather, this is a potential trap game for the 49ers. They just wrapped up a three game stretch against the Packers, Ravens, and Saints. They looked impressive, and they still have the Rams and Seahawks to close out the season. I would not exactly be shocked if the 49ers beat the Falcons handily, but I think this ends up a little closer than the betting public expects. Whether it be close from start to finish, or a backdoor Falcons cover, I think they lose by ten or less and so I’m taking the points.

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