You know how they find a way for every kid to get a trophy who participates in an athletic event now? Somehow honoring them for participation instead of only excellence.
I understand they do the same thing for the elderly at senior centers, find ways to award acknowledgement for someone playing Bingo even though, by the rules of the game, they didn’t win.
Perhaps the San Francisco 49ers would do well if the National Football League found a way to honor teams that do their best over the final month of the regular season. A special award for a team that did well in their final five games. The 49ers seem to have this part of the season down, even though they haven’t yet mastered how to win much over the first three months of a campaign.
Last season, the 49ers were 1-10 before they made a late season surge and won their final five games. Many credited that dramatic turnaround to newly acquired quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, who got as much ink entering this season as quarterbacks who have figured out ways to win both during the entire regular season and into the playoffs.
This year, the 49ers shuffled through quarterbacks like a dealer works to counteract a card counter. They started the season with Grappolo, but he didn’t get through the first month before being sidelined for the season with an injury. On came a parade of backups to try and lead the 49ers to wins, but we now have evidence that it really doesn't matter who is behind center for the Niners, it just requires the calendar flip over to December.
After winning only two of their first dozen games, San Francisco hosted the playoff hopeful Denver Broncos last week at Levi’s Stadium. Kyle Shanahan’s squad pounded the first nail into the Broncos quest for a postseason berth with an upset win last Sunday, and last night, the Cleveland Browns hammered the final nail into the coffin of the Broncos postseason hopes with a victory at Mile High Stadium.
So much for the Broncos revival, it was no match for the 49ers late season run.
Today, the 49ers host another team with an eye on the playoffs, the Seattle Seahawks.
After losing their first two games of the season, at Denver and Chicago, Pete Carroll may have done his best coaching job ever in rounding this young squad into an NFC force. Seattle comes to San Francisco today riding a streak that has seen them win eight of eleven games with losses to only the Los Angeles Rams, twice, and Los Angeles Chargers.
In other words, the Seahawks have beaten every team they have played since September except two of the best teams in the league. They also crushed San Francisco just two weeks ago in Seattle, 43-16.
Perhaps that is why more than three of every four bets made on this game are backing the Seattle Seahawks and giving the points on the road. While better than 75% of the public is banking on the visitors in this one, the line must be taking a sharp upswing.
In fact, the first number on this game had the Seahawks favored by six points, but that line has been shaved by 2½ points, the 49ers now get 3½ points on the line. A point spread shift seemingly in opposition to the money being wagered on this contest.
Now, this number may be in stark contrast to where the public action is, but you can bet it is not in opposition to the money. It can work like this, 100 bettors go to the window and wager to win 100 dollars on their pick, which in 75 cases turns out to be the Seahawks. Then, some guy shows up with a briefcase, and bets a lot more money than all the bettors in front of him combined.
How much more?
Do you know how much money it takes to move a line 2½ points against 75% public action?
Neither do I, but I do know this, it is a lot.
I had this game on the backburner all week because I don’t like betting on a bad team to win two in a row. But, heck, what was I thinking, this is the 49ers and even as a bad team, they’ve proven they can win five in a row during this stage of the season.
Which leaves us with this choice, we can follow the public in this one and be confident all day long, or follow the money and collect after the game.
Qoxhi Picks: San Francisco 49ers (+3½) over Seattle Seahawks