San Francisco 49ers Odds to Win the Super Bowl and Betting Futures
by Alan Matthews - 7/25/2014
I'm not an NFL historian and don't have a week to look this up, but has any team's three straight seasons ended as painfully as San Francisco's past three have? Yeah, don't tell me about those Bills that lost four Super Bowls in a row. They only were in place to win one of those. In 2011, the Niners won 13 games and reached the NFC title game. There's really no way they should have lost to a mediocre Giants team at Candlestick Park, but Kyle Williams picked a bad time to have two fumbles and the Niners lost in OT. The next year, the Niners won 11 games and reached the Super Bowl for the first time since their last title in the 1994 season. Colin Kaepernick's post-blackout comeback at the Superdome came up just short in an upset loss to Baltimore.
Then last season, the 49ers finished 12-4. More times than not that's going to guarantee you a division title and top-two seed but not in 2013. San Francisco finished a game behind the Seahawks in the NFC West, went to frigid Green Bay and won in the wild-card round and then to NFC South champion Carolina in the divisional round and punched the Panthers in the mouth as payback for a regular-season loss. That gave us the rubber match everyone wanted in the NFC Championship Game in Seattle. Frankly, the Niners were the better team for three quarters, but then Kaepernick started turning the ball over in the fourth. The last was an interception in the end zone with 22 seconds left for a 23-17 defeat, yet another last-second crusher for the franchise.
The biggest question on offense this offseason was getting a big-time extension done with Kaepernick. Problem solved. He got a six-year deal supposedly worth than more than $110 million, but those big NFL numbers are never true. The key is that Kaepernick gets $61 million guaranteed, which is an NFL record. It actually was a somewhat team-friendly deal to give the Niners some flexibility to sign other guys such as Vernon Davis and Michael Crabtree. The team already gave excellent left tackle Joe Staley an extension in the wake of Kaepernick's deal.
The Niners are one of the most run-heavy teams in the NFL as Coach Jim Harbaugh likes to pound teams into submission and win in the second half when they are worn down. San Francisco ranked just 30th in passing yards in 2013 but third in rushing. I don't think the splits will be that wide again because Crabtree missed the first 11 games due to injury and he opens up that offense. Plus workhorse running back Frank Gore is now 31 and his yards per carry dropped to a career-low 4.1 last year, although he still had 1,128 yards and nine touchdowns. He's still the No. 1 guy but his workload will come down a bit. You hear somewhere around 50 fewer carries.
The Niners got a steal with Ohio State bruiser Carlos Hyde in the second round of this year's draft and took injured South Carolina running back Marcus Lattimore in the fourth round last year just to store him away as he worked his way back from another serious injury. I didn't even mention Kendall Hunt, who averaged 4.6 yards on his 78 carries in 2013. It's a potentially very deep group. Kaepernick obviously will do his share of running as well. he was second to Gore in carries and yards.
I'd argue from top to bottom this is the most talented defense in the NFL. It ranked fifth in yards and third in scoring. After Week 3 last year, the 49ers allowed more than 23 points just once in the regular season and they won that game. Obviously the Niners don't have the secondary that Seattle does, but the front seven is probably better (but not as deep). The linebacking group of Aldon Smith, Patrick Willis, NaVarro Bowman and Ahmad Brooks is the best in the league, and I don't think it's close.
There are big questions about Bowman, probably the best of the four now, and Smith, the best pass rusher. Bowman was a one-man wrecking crew in the NFC title game before ghastly hurting his leg and blowing out his ACL and MCL. He's starting camp on the PUP list and probably won't be ready until midseason. Smith has had numerous off-field issues and is going to be suspended from anywhere to 2-8 games probably. Those are big losses. I'm not sure who is going to pressure the quarterback now. The secondary lost excellent safety Donte Whitner and cornerbacks Tarell Brown and Carlos Rogers to free agency but recovered well by adding Colts safety Antoine Bethea and Vikings corner Chris Cook. In addition, the team took Northern Illinois safety Jimmie Ward with its first-round pick in May.
2014 San Francisco 49ers Schedule Analysis
The 49ers have the fourth-toughest schedule in the NFL (tied with San Diego) as their opponents went a combined 144-112 last season, a winning percentage of .563. It's actually not the toughest in the NFC West as that belongs by a shade to the Rams (.564 -- considering they have to play the better Niners twice, not a surprise). San Francisco's road slate (.570) looks a bit tougher than at home (.555). The 49ers are 5-point favorites Week 1 at Dallas, a line that has risen as much as 1.5 points. The total is 49, with the over a -115 favorite. San Francisco is -250 on the moneyline. The Niners enter on a six-game regular-season winning streak, the longest in the NFL. They haven't played Dallas since losing 27-24 in OT at home in Week 2 of the 2011 season, Harbaugh's second career NFL game as head coach. The Cowboys played three 2013 playoff teams at home last year and lost them all, but only by a combined six points.
Is it possible for the opener to be a trap game? I only ask because Week 2 the Niners open their spectacular Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara on Sunday night against the Bears. There is not a gimme among San Francisco's first seven games before the bye as this follows the Bears: at Cardinals, vs. Eagles, vs. Chiefs. at Rams, at Broncos. Everyone will have that Denver game circled and it's a short week for the Niners as the play rugged St. Louis on Monday night the week before. I expect the Niners to be 5-2 at the bye. Post bye it's not much easier: vs. Rams, at Saints, at Giants, vs. Redskins, vs. Seahawks (Thanksgiving Night short turnaround). at Raiders (only gimme on the schedule), at Seahawks, vs. Chargers, vs. Cardinals. It's a shame the first time the rival Seahawks and Niners meet isn't until Thanksgiving and neither team will likely be 100 percent on a short week, but it should do monster ratings on NBC.
2014 San Francisco 49ers Odds to Win the Super Bowl and Betting Futures
Odds courtesy of Sportsbook.ag . The 49ers are +800 to win the Super Bowl, +420 to win the NFC championship and +150 to win the NFC West. They have a wins total of 10.5, with the "over" a -130 favorite. San Francisco is -250 to make the playoffs and +200 to miss. Kaepernick is +2500 to win NFL MVP and +20000 to lead the NFL in passing. Gore is +7500 to top the NFL in rushing. Crabtree is +10000 to top the NFL in receiving yards. Ward is +4000 to win Defensive Rookie of the Year.
2014 San Francisco 49ers Picks and Predictions
Seriously, the 49ers could go 9-7 and still be the best team in the NFL by the end of the regular season if everyone is healthy. That schedule is tough. It's hard to determine the wins total or NFC West without knowing the 100 percent status of Smith or Bowman. Will Kaepernick still play at a high level now that he got his money? (Joe Flacco didn't) What if Gore breaks down? It's hard for running backs to stay productive at that age in the modern era.
I'm leaning under on wins ever so slightly and projecting a 10-6 record largely because of Bowman and Smith. The 49ers will again be a wild-card team and while not impossible to reach the Super Bowl as one, I can't recommend it -- although they can win anywhere but Seattle and maybe New Orleans.
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