There are those that would like to not bring up their August predictions for the National Football League. Preseason NFL predictions can get blown up like an NCAA Basketball Bracket can get erased in the first weekend of play.
But, I don’t mind having my preseason selections reviewed even if my Super Bowl winner has only an outside shot at even gaining a playoff berth. I picked the San Francisco 49ers to beat the Buffalo Bills in Super Bowl LVI.
The Bills are in second place in their division entering this weekend’s play with seven wins in 13 decisions. The 49ers are in worst shape, they also are 7-6 on the season but that lands them in third place in the talented NFC West. The New England Patriots lead the Bills in the AFC East, the 49ers trail the Arizona Cardinals and Los Angeles Rams in their division race.
How do I like my chances of having my Super Bowl matchup materialize?
I don’t think they would be my top choices right now to win their conferences, but that doesn’t mean I don’t think both teams have a legitimate shot at pulling up from where they are to where I predicted and they want to be. If that’s so, the easier equation than predicting the Super Bowl participants in August, is picking these two teams today then they look to close on their division leaders.
Last night, with the Patriots losing to the Indianapolis Colts offers an opportunity for the Bills to close to within one game of Bill Belichick’s crew with a victory today over the Carolina Panthers. I don’t see how they can miss in this spot, and the double-digit point spread is likely not to keep up with the Bills margin of victory.
The 49ers are also heavy favorites, giving nine points at home against the Atlanta Falcons. It is in a way a rematch of a Week 15 contest between these two teams two years ago. That year, the 49ers allowed the 10-point underdog Falcons to upset them. It was the last loss endured by Kyle Shanahan’s squad until their four game winning streak was snapped by the Kansas CIty Chiefs in Super Bowl LIV.
The 49ers lost to the Falcons in 2019 while no doubt looking past their opponent to the two important games left on their regular season schedule, contests against their two primary division opponents, the Rams and Seattle Seahawks.
The 49ers bounced off their surprise loss to Atlanta two years ago, 29-22, with conference clinching wins over the Rams and Seahawks. The Seattle win was secured in the final moment when Dre Greenlaw made a tackle on fourth down at the goal line that ended Seattle’s hopes for a win, division title, and victory that would have dropped the 49ers to the fourth seed in the NFC Playoffs.
The victory over Seattle both won San Francisco the NFC West and the top seed in the playoffs, a postseason position that the 49ers parlayed into a Super Bowl appearance with home victories over the Minnesota Vikings and Green Bay Packers.
So, what’s different about this year’s Week 15 meeting with the Falcons at Levi’s Stadium than the one two years ago won by the Falcons?
The 49ers were in first place and had a soft spot on their schedule when they hosted the Falcons in 2019. When they meet today, this is a spot the 49ers have to win in order to keep their playoff hopes alive. What that means is not a repeat loss of 2019, but a Week 15, 2021 romp victory.
Qoxhi Picks: San Francisco 49ers (-9) over Atlanta Falcons