The two teams that met in last season’s National Football Conference Championship Game square off tonight as the NFL opens Week Nine action. Last year, the San Francisco 49ers beat the Green Bay Packers twice; dominating wins in both the regular season and playoffs. Tonight, the 49ers are a touchdown home underdog.
What is surprising about these two quality teams is that they both lost to division opponents last week. The 49ers were blunted by the Seahawks in Seattle, 37-27, and the Packers upset at home by the Minnesota Vikings, 28-22. When good teams lose, they most often respond with a victory in their next game.
This is somewhat reminiscent of a primetime Thursday night game we had three weeks ago when the Kansas City Chiefs met the Buffalo Bills. Both those first place teams were coming off their initial loss of the season, and the Chiefs appeared to be laying too many points for many bettors to pass on the home-standing Bills.
But, in the end, the better team, Kansas City, was the one not to lose a second straight game and both won and covered the point spread at New Era Field, beating the Bills by nine points while favored by 5½.
I think we are in store for a similar result tonight. Even with the short work week and a long trip for the road team, very much a concern for betting against the home team here, I think the Packers are the more likely team this year to end a losing streak at one game.
But, before you decide to bet on Green Bay tonight, know there are some intriguing stats that point to the 49ers in this one.
One of the features on this site is Point Spread Price. That table, developed by Paul on my staff while he was a student at Cal Berkeley, illuminates when a team is over or under priced by the current point spread. Tonight, that chart has the Packers playing at their highest point spread price of the year, 103, and the 49ers kicking off at their lowest price of the season, 65.
Most teams will lose against the line when they are overpriced, and beat the spread when a bargain on the line. For reference, the highest price the Packers were this season before tonight’s game was 95, and they lost that game to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 38-10.
The lowest price the 49ers were before tonight was 72, and they won that game two weeks ago over the Los Angeles Rams, 24-16.
Now we get the Packers at their highest price and the 49ers at their lowest point spread price in the same game and we take the Packers?
The short work week and generous point spread while the public is backing Green Bay with 72% of the action, clearly indicates the smart play is with the home dog tonight.
Smart plays don’t always win.
Bad plays always lose.
This one is as tough to call as the state of Georgia in the presidential election.
The Packers may not be a smart play, but they certainly are not a bad play. Green Bay gets the football edge in this one, and based on a pair of losses last year to Kyle Shanahan’s team, are in a better position to bounce off those losses and last week’s defeat to hand the injured their fourth home loss of the season.
But, put money on this one laying too many points?