The San Francisco 49ers advanced their bid to get into the playoffs following a 31-13 win over the Atlanta Falcons that improved Kyle Shanahan’s side to 8-6 on the season in a highly competitive NFC West division. The Tennessee Titans, in the meanwhile, succumbed to a 19-13 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers and slipped to a 9-5 record in an AFC South division that is turning into a two-horse race with the advancing Indianapolis Colts.
On the basis of Sunday’s round of NFL action as well as recent form, the best sportsbooks, not surprisingly, install the San Francisco 49ers as the road favorites. Opening odds see the Niners pegged as the 3.5-point favorites, which is up from a look-ahead projection of Niners -1 before Week 15.
Will the Niners come through with both a win and a cover? Or can the Titans bounce back from a disappointing loss and defy the NFL odds?
San Francisco 49ers vs. Tennessee Titans
Thursday, December 23, 2021 – 08:20 PM EST at Nissan Stadium
San Francisco 49ers Surging Late
The San Francisco 49ers are enjoying a late-season surge as they keep their playoff hopes alive down the stretch. Most recently, the Niners are coming off a commanding 31-13 win over the Falcons that saw them cover as the closing 9-point favorites for ATS NFL picks.
When the Niners lost to the Arizona Cardinals 31-17 in Week 9 and slipped to a subpar 3-5 on the season, most NFL analysts and betting experts were all too keen to write off Kyle Shanahan’s side. Some went so far as to sound off on Jimmy Garoppolo’s future, spelling doom and gloom for the Niners starting quarterback.
Since Week 9 though, the Niners have turned around their season in spectacular fashion. They’ve won five of their six games to improve to 8-6 and third place in the NFC West. They’re one game shy of the 9-4 Los Angeles Rams with a 1-0 edge in the series, and they’re two games behind division leaders Arizona (10-4).
Garoppolo turned in a strong performance against the Falcons on Sunday, going 18 of 23 for 235 yards and one touchdown. He was well fired up after the game after his error-free performance and giving the faithful something to cheer about.
Running back Jeff Wilson Jr. led the team with 110 yards rushing on 21 carries and a touchdown. Deebo Samuel and Kyle Juszczyk each had a rushing score to underscore the strength of San Francisco’s run game. George Kittle was his usual disruptive self, totting up 93 yards on six receptions while second-year wide receiver Jauan Jennings connected with Garoppolo for the passing touchdown.
The Niners dominated the Falcons physically in the lopsided win. Garoppolo was quick to praise the defense at the end of the game. They held the Falcons run game to 62 paltry yards, sacked Matt Ryan three times and forced a fumble for a loss, and held the Falcons to 1 out of 5 made red zone attempts.
Titans Fall to Steelers
The Week 15 contest between the Titans and Steelers was billed as a tossup across online sports betting sites, so the outcome wasn’t too surprising. The Titans opened as the 2.5-point road favorites, but the line quickly trimmed down by a point and a half at the start of Week 15. Over the course of the week, Tennessee and Pittsburgh took turns as the 1-point favorites before the markets closed with the Steelers as the 1-point home chalk.
The loss marked the third loss for Tennessee in their last four games. Although Tennessee remained in first place in the AFC South, the gap between the Titans and their biggest rivals, the Indianapolis Colts, closed to one game. That said, the Titans did sweep the series with the Colts this season and they need only a couple of wins to secure the division title for a second-straight season.
Tannehill had a modest passing day as he went 23 of 32 for a paltry 153 yards and one interception. He made up for it slightly by rushing 18 yards for a score, but it wasn’t enough. He wasn’t enough.
For the first few games, after Derrick Henry suffered his season-ending injury, the Titans looked like they might be able to manage without their stud running back. However, over the last four to five weeks, the passing game has been exposed for all of its weaknesses.
Tannehill is struggling to move the chains. He’s been inaccurate and sloppy, which has cost the Titans and put pressure on the defense. They’ve averaged 14.75 points scored in the last four games – a result that is skewed by the 20-0 win over the Jacksonville Jaguars in Week 14. In the losses to the Houston Texans, New England Patriots, and Steelers, the Titans scored merely 13 points. They also conceded an average of 25.6 points in those three defeats.
NFL Picks and Predictions
The Niners are brimming with confidence and riding the momentum of a two-game winning streak into Week 16. The Titans are losing momentum and their grip on the AFC South title. Clearly, these two sides are heading in opposite directions right now.
Obviously, things can change on a dime on any given Sunday. One can’t dismiss the Titans out of hand when they’re playing at home and facing an almost must-win game, If the Titans bounce back, it won’t be entirely shocking.
However, betting on it is another matter entirely. Put simply, it’s a risky bet under the circumstances, and especially against a Niners team that is looking the part of a serious contender and a potentially dangerous floater in the playoffs.
NFL Pick: 49ers -3.5 (-110) at Bet365