NFL upset of the week: Buy low on 49ers
J-E-T-S! Jets! Jets! Jets!
It was a tough scene for the disbelievers in our weekly stab at finding value with a big underdog, as Randy Bullock's kick sailed unthreateningly past the uprights in overtime to give the New York Jets their first win of the season.
Remember: the rules require a bet on something longer than +150 or 3.5 points. Often, this means backing a bad team or fading a team that's recently been in - or close to - the Super Bowl. This week, we do neither.
The San Francisco 49ers are 5.5-point underdogs to the Arizona Cardinals, the NFL's last undefeated team. Football fans are in love: they love Kyler Murray, his waterbug style, and the fleet of receivers he throws to.
The betting public is decidedly less in love with the 49ers' quarterback situation. Jimmy Garoppolo has very few supporters, and Trey Lance finally got some run when the former went out with an injury and spent much of the second half airmailing his targets.
The fundamental issue was the 49ers had Lance running an offensive game plan designed for Garoppolo. Now, the rookie gets a week of preparation and practicing with the first team, and he should use plays that accentuate his skill set. Whether that's Lance running or simply the threat of him doing so, the Cardinals should have difficulty preparing for what they haven't seen.
As for the 49ers' preparation for Murray, they're at least familiar with his work. Here are the Cardinals quarterback's stats in his four meetings with San Francisco:
|10/31/19||SF 28-25||17/21 241 YDS||34 YDS|
|11/17/19||SF 36-26||24/33 150 YDS||67 YDS|
|9/13/20||AZ 24-20||26/40 230 YDS||91 YDS|
|12/26/20||SF 20-12||31/50 247 YDS||75 YDS|
The Cardinals scored only 12 points in a loss last December despite the 49ers' defense being without many of its stars. That shows San Francisco knows how to create a game plan to slow Murray enough to win - and that victory came with C.J. Beathard at quarterback.
Lastly, there's the matter of price. With a full week of practice for Lance, I've downgraded the 49ers' offense only slightly, with the team sitting at 67 overall. Meanwhile, full credit to the Cardinals for their win in Los Angeles versus the Rams last week, but their rating still has to be rooted in priors for a team that was lined at 8.5 wins before the season began. I moved them up to 65, with obvious room to run upward.
There's no way the numbers see the appropriate line as anything more than the Cardinals by three points, as was the case three weeks ago when Arizona was a chip-shot field goal away from losing to the Minnesota Vikings at home. The 49ers are live to this one, and at 2-1 for our money, we'll use a unit of our season-long winnings to try to win back two more.
Pick: 49ers +200
Matt Russell is a betting writer for theScore. If there’s a bad beat to be had, Matt will find it. Find him on Twitter @mrussauthentic.