This Week 15 matchup features two teams fighting to make the playoffs in the NFC, although one is a little safer than the other to say the least.
The San Francisco 49ers (7-6) are coming off a huge 26-23 overtime victory over the Cincinnati Bengals. This was the bounce-back win the Niners desperately needed after a brutal road loss against the Seattle Seahawks in Week 13.
Meanwhile, the Atlanta Falcons (6-7) are coming off a hard-fought 29-21 road victory over the Carolina Panthers, which followed a blowout home loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
With both teams riding high off important wins, which team can ride the momentum all the way to a second-straight win on Sunday? Let’s dive into it.
Please note that all NFL gameday odds are current as of 12 PM EST on Friday, December 17.
Falcons vs 49ers Prediction
After both teams added road wins to their record last week, the Niners head back home to host a Falcons team that seems to excel away from home, having gone 5-2 on its travels so far this season. The Niners have also struggled at Levi’s Stadium, winning just two of six home contests this year.
San Francisco regardless will be considered by many to be the heavy favorite in this one. After all, the Niners are winners of four of their last five games, including big wins over the Rams, Vikings, and Bengals.
Meanwhile, the Falcons should be considered heavy underdogs due to their 2-3 record over their last five games, which included double-digit losses to every team with over a .500 record during that span.
Atlanta is averaging six fewer points per game (18.8) than it did in 2020 (24.8), but that is partially because they have scored nearly 10 points fewer per game at home in 2021 than they do on the road. Quite honestly, this variance in points scored for a home/road split is unlike most stats you will see. It isn’t unheard of to be a better team on the road, but that wide of a scoring margin is rare.
San Francisco in recent weeks has improved its offense all the way up to 13th in points per game with 25.3 and have averaged 27.7 in the last three games alone.
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Atlanta has been up and down all year with a lack of talent on the roster and the absence of star wideout Calvin Ridley, who been away from the team due to personal reasons and who was expected to take up the mantle from Julio Jones.
On the flip side, the Niners have George Kittle and Deebo Samuel healthy again and playing lights out. Samuel has essentially taken over as the lead back and San Francisco is starting to get great contributions for the up-and-coming young wideout Brandon Aiyuk.
Both teams really haven’t figured it out on defense pretty much the whole year. The Niners aren’t the same defense they once had with now-Jets head coach Robert Saleh and the Falcons have shown the potential at times under defensive coordinator Dean Pees, but their offense has sputtered so much it’s hard to tell how much blame the defense should truly get.
The Niners rank 20th in the league in points allowed per game, while the Falcons currently sit 28th.
This game is one of those games where many may get caught up on how great the 49ers played last week and forget that San Francisco did lose to Seattle and are just barely an above .500 team. Atlanta doesn’t have as much talent, but the Falcons could stick around and make this game interesting.
Cordarrelle Patterson will be the key as usual for the Atlanta offense. If he’s able to continue playing at a high level, it will take the load off of Matt Ryan, who 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan is very familiar with from his time as the Falcons offensive coordinator.
At the end of the day and despite having a poor home record, I expect the Niners to win this game in a tighter contest than many will see coming.
You have to tip your cap to the job rookie head coach Arthur Smith has done in Atlanta, they shouldn’t have six wins, but he has coached them up and maximized the production out of the talent he was given.
That will be enough to keep them in this contest all the way through, falling to the 49ers on the road in the end.
Prediction: 49ers 27, Falcons 21
Falcons vs 49ers Best Bets
Best Bet: Falcons +9.5 (-110) at Caesars
Wager: 2 Units
This is an easier game to pick with the spread currently where it stands. If the Niners were favored by seven points, I would still pick the Falcons but wouldn’t feel as confident about it. As good as San Francisco has looked this year, the Niners aren’t unbeatable and they have a losing record when playing at home.
I do expect the Falcons to rely heavily on the running game and receiving game combo of Patterson. The 49ers have the third-best run defense per DVOA rating and they just held Joe Mixon to 58 yards on the ground.
However, the Bengals adjusted in that game and threw the football more, which brought them back to tie the game and send it to overtime. The 49ers are 21st in pass defense DVOA and the Falcons are going to have to take advantage of that like the Bengals did if they want to win.
Whether it’s with Patterson, or the late-emerging Russell Gage, or even rookie tight end Kyle Pitts, Atlanta will have to attack that secondary.
The Falcons have held opponents to under four yards per carry on the road this year and they will have to keep that same energy when they face Samuel, Elijah Mitchell, Jeff Wilson, and whoever else the Niners throw at them.
With such a big spread, I recommend taking the Falcons as your NFL pick of the day, as I believe they will make this a close game and force 49ers fans to sweat a little bit on Sunday.
Best Bet: Over 46.5 Total Points (-110) at Caesars
Wager: 1 Unit
When you combine the Falcons’ points scored and points allowed averages, you get 46 points. Meanwhile, 49ers games have averaged 48.4 points.
San Francisco is the one of most efficient red zone teams in the league and the Falcons have tied them with a 60 percent red zone touchdown percentage over their last three games.
I advise taking the Over here, although I am not as confident with it as I am with the Falcons play.
Thank you for reading our NFL Week 15 Falcons vs 49ers Predictions! For more NFL betting tips, check out our NFL Week 15 Best Bets and NFL Week 15 Parlays.