Time to right the ship. Offense had their issues. Special teams weren’t great. Defense most definitely had their problems, and at this point in the season has given Pats Nation a legitimate reason for concern. Nothing like a trip out west against the 1-8 49ers to (theoretically) hit the reset button and play a thorough, dominating, 60-minute football game…
More importantly though, F that team and F their fans. Classless and jealous. If that right there didn’t make your blood boil, why bother watching football?
Let’s take it around the table and see what the BBS Staff thinks of this big bounce back opportunity for the good guys on Sunday…
Tom Brady: Over/Under 310 yards passing?
Niko: Brady should have his way in this one. Sans Gronk, expect Bennett to shine. OVER.
Pete: The 49ers feature an absolutely horrendous defense. Without Gronk, Brady won't have a massive threat down the field, but I still like Brady here to have a big day. OVER.
Jordan: Despite missing Gronk AND Hogan, Brady's downfield threats are limited. However, with the tremendous depth on offense, the Pats still have Bennett and Amendola. It'll be fine. OVER.
LeGarrette Blount: Over/Under 67 yards rushing?
Niko: OVER. This game has Blount written all over it. A balanced offensive attack, setting up some deadly play-action should be the formula. Clock killing in the fourth, Blount could blow this number away.
Pete: The 49ers statistically have a top-1o all-time worst rush defense. Expect a HUGE day out of LeGarrette Blount here, especially if the Patriots get up early.
Jordan: The Patriots can realistically do whatever the hell they want on Sunday and prevail by a good margin. I expect Blount to have some really big gains. Instead of 2 yard TD runs, I could see potential 20+ yard TD runs this week. OVER for LB
James White: Over/Under 44.5 yards from scrimmage?
Niko: Going to go UNDER here. With Dion Lewis (finally) expected back, albeit in a limited role, White will lose a handful of snaps/opportunities. He’ll be involved and threaten, but won’t quite reach this mark on Sunday.
Pete: Like Niko mentioned, I am not sure how much Dion Lewis is going to play this week, which greatly affects James White. White has been nothing but consistent this season, and I think he will continue having a productive season against the 49ers this week. OVER.
Jordan: Lewis wasn't even active last week, I don't expect him to play a major role this week either. Therefore, James White should thrive in this setting. I will still say UNDER, but not by much.
Julian Edelman: Over/Under 7.5 receptions, 72 receiving yards?
Niko: Yes, Bennett is the main beneficiary of Gronk’s injury, but #11 should see an uptick in usage as well. Don’t forget Hogan is out as well. UNDER on catches, but OVER on yards.
Pete: UNDER. Julian Edelman hasn't been himself this season, but thankfully the Patriots have so many weapons they don't need him to go for 10 catches, 100 yards every game. However, I do think Edelman will get into the end zone.
Jordan: Since week one, JE11 hasn't been the go-to guy we've been looking for. With the two offensive weapons the Pats are missing this week, and the level of importance of both, I expect Jules to be thrown to a lot more. OVER on receptions, slightly OVER on yards.
Martellus Bennett: Over/Under 4.5 receptions, 69 yards receiving?
Niko: OVER on everything. And at least one score. Fantasy owners are either salivating or trembling.
Pete: OVER. Bennett has been an absolute monster when he is the #1 tight end on the depth chart. And yes, I do have him on my fantasy team.
Jordan: OVER. You're welcome Pete.
Colin Kaepernick: Over/Under 240 yards from scrimmage?
Niko: It (hopefully) won’t be efficient or pretty, but Kaep should have to chuck it often this weekend. He’ll also have the chance to make some plays with his feet. Plus, the Pats’ D has hemorrhaged yards to opposing QBs all season. OVER, with the difference in garbage time.
Pete: Kaepernick is the exact type of quarterback the Patriots usually struggle against. He has a strong arm and can run all over the field. He is clearly not the same player he was a few years back, but he can still ball. OVER.
Jordan: As much as it pains me to say this, because I hate Kaepernick with a passion, I have to agree with Pete. Although he's a one-hit wonder, his versatility should give the Pats defense issues. Especially without a great pash rush, Kaep should have time to let his guys get open against a similarly weak secondary. OVER.
Carlos Hyde: Over/Under 67 yards rushing?
Niko: UNDER. I’m a fan of Carlos Hyde: he’s big, he’s strong, he’s fast, and he’s explosive. That being said, the agenda on defense will be to fix the run defense. Plus, backup Dejuan Harris has looked very good when given the opportunities this year, and will get a chunk of Hyde’s carries.
Pete: OVER. I think we are going to see a lot of offense in this game, and the Patriots have shown that they cannot defend the run.
Jordan: UNDER. The Pats offense will cause a change of plans on the Niners. They'll be forced to trust their QB and shy away from the run a bit to catch up. Hyde will still have some nice gains, but won't eclipse the yard mark.
Quinton Patton: Over/Under 3.5 catches, 39 yards receiving?
Niko: Originally I had Torrey Smith here, a guy we’re all a little more familiar with. But the reality is Smith has been a non-factor and is simply the bigger name, while Patton has accumulated a ridiculous 18 targets (9 each) over last two weeks. The volume will be there, and because of that he’ll hit these numbers. OVER on both.
Pete: I agree with Niko. Patton has been a pleasant surprise and looks to be a guy the 49ers can build around. More than likely Patton will be the top receiving threat for the 49ers, which means Malcolm Butler has a huge opportunity. UNDER in a bounce-back effort for Patton.
Jordan: Patton is going to have to be the go-to for Kaep this week. Not saying Malcolm Butler will have a bad game covering the man, but the level of throws to Patton should lead to a few catches, one for a big gain. Butler tends to get burned once or twice a game, UNDER on receptions, OVER on yards.
Jeremy Kerley: Over/Under 4.5 catches, 52 yards receiving?
Niko: Remember this guy? A New York Jet from 2011 to 2015, Kerley has had his fair share of (ahem, personal) success against the Pats. He’s having his best season since 2012, but I don’t see him hitting these marks Sunday. UNDER on both.
Pete: The #2 guy for the 49ers could have a very good day considering the Patriots' woes in the defensive secondary. Malcolm Butler has been pretty solid this season, but the Patriots have had a revolving door at the #2 cornerback position. Logan Ryan was supposed to have a huge year in his contract season, but he has been so terrible at times that the Patriots have looked at other options and benched the Rutgers product. I think Ryan needs a matchup like this in order to regain some confidence. UNDER.
Jordan: Kerley is a decent number 2 on a bad Niners team. Like Niko said, he's having his best year since 2012. So the guy can still ball a bit. Despite his successes in the past against the Pats, I don't see it this week. UNDER.
Vance McDonald: Over/Under 3.5 catches, 39 yards receiving?
Niko: No Gronk or Marty, but McDonald is a serviceable option for Chip Kelly at tight end. With 6 targets in 4 straight games, he’s starting to become more involved as well. I’ll say OVER on both these lines for the 6’4 270 pounder.
Pete: It will be interesting to see how the Patriots approach this matchup. Against a big tight end, Jamie Collins would almost always be given this matchup. Unfortunately, Collins is playing with the Browns and the Patriots have a huge hole to fill. If the Patriots ever decide to play man coverage, then Devin McCourty or Pat Chung could matchup with McDonald. I will go OVER, though, as I don't see the Patriots completely changing their defensive scheme in a week.
Jordan: I like Vance McDonald. I don't know why. Probably because he helped me win a few weeks in fantasy last year. Had Collins been here still, I would say under on these marks. But with the questions that remain about who'll cover opposing TEs, I expect a rotation covering the big fella. OVER on both.
Niko: Martellus Bennett vs. whoever has the unfortunate responsibility of covering him. I could see veteran safety Eric Reid getting the first crack. Reid has good size (6’1 215), but keeping Bennett in check will be a tall task regardless. If #88 has his way all afternoon, the Pats will approach 40.
Pete: It has to be the pass rush vs. Colin Kaepernick, right? Kaepernick is a grade-A douchebag, but he has some serious wheels and can extend some plays. Similarly, the Patriots were not able to contain Russell Wilson last week and, well, we all know how that turned out. The Patriots need to get to Kaepernick early and often in order to give him zero confidence. Even the worst teams can exceed expectations if they gain some confidence.
Jordan: I'll go with the Patriots secondary vs. the Niners receivers. The Pats gave up a monster of a game to Russell Wilson and the Seahawks receivers last week and that needs to turn around FAST. We thought this secondary was going to be a pretty deep position for New England this year, but that hasn't been the case. A big game vs. a bad team is exactly what they need.
Niko: Turnovers. This defense has struggled to turn over the opposing offense all season; a date with Colin Kaerpenick could change that. He’s not particularly accurate so the chances will presumably be there. I say one fumble recovery and two INTs for Patricia’s unit, which will finally give us (a little) something to smile about.
Pete: I guess it is not that bold, but I think Martellus Bennett is going to have an absolutely massive game. He is playing just as well, if not better, than Rob Gronkowski and will see an increased role as the team's #1 tight end. Want me to give you another bold prediction? LeGarrette Blount. Like I mentioned earlier, the 49ers feature an all-time bad rush defense. Run the damn rock.
Jordan: I'll go with Barkevious Mingo here. I say he plays a surprisingly big role this week, aside from special teams. The Pats need to shake things up, and maybe the former Brown can provide a spark. You can't teach that athleticism. I say Mingo comes in for a strip sack as well as helping apply pressure on the Niners' QB.
Game Total: Over/Under 51 points?
Niko: OVER. No Gronk, no Hogan, no problem. San Fran doesn’t have a prayer to stop Brady and co. this Sunday. Unfortunately, the much-maligned Pats’ D shouldn’t be confused with the “steel curtain” either.
Pete: Over. The Patriots should be able to win this game in a shootout with a few key turnovers.
Jordan: OVER. Pats demolish a pathetic team in San Fran, even without Gronk.
Final Prediction (Patriots -13)
Niko: Shocker, but I do think the Pats cover here. This is obviously a substantial spread, but a focused NE should really pummel the ‘Niners, who could very well be the 2nd worst team in football (sorry Cleveland). I’ll say 36-20.
Pete: 35-17 Pats. This is going to be a game that we walk away from and still have the same concerns as last week. Nonetheless, a win is a win. Keep it rolling.
Jordan: 42-14 Pats. They need to kick someone's ass really badly now. And no better team to do that against since they already played Cleveland.