SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS (2-1)
at NEW YORK JETS (2-1)
Kickoff: Sunday, 1:00 p.m. EDT
Line: San Francisco -4, Total: 40½
The 49ers look to bounce back from their first loss of the season when they fly across the country to New Jersey to take on the Jets.
Last week’s 24-13 defeat in Minnesota might have been a wake-up call for the 49ers, as San Francisco has now lost five of six ATS away from home. But despite that slip-up, this team hadn’t had many issues coming east for early games under Jim Harbaugh, as they went 5-0 SU (4-1 ATS) in 1:00 starts last season. The Jets pulled out a comeback win in Miami last week, but this team is in trouble as their best player, CB Darrelle Revis (torn ACL) is done for the year. Their offense is struggling and their defense again looked ordinary last week, allowing 185 rushing yards to a one-dimensional Miami offense missing RB Reggie Bush for half the game.
Can the Jets hand San Francisco a second straight defeat? For the answer, connect to The Platinum Sheet for all the StatFox Experts picks for every NFL game throughout the 2012 season and playoffs.
San Francisco’s biggest offensive weakness against the Vikings was self-inflicted, as the team committed an uncharacteristic three turnovers. The Niners gained just 89 yards on the ground, but attempted only 20 carries for a solid 4.5 YPC average. Frank Gore rushed for more than 5.0 YPC for the third straight week, leaving him with a 5.9 YPC average. He will be the focal point of this offense trying to chew up yards against the Jets weak run-stop unit allowing 149 rushing YPG (28th in NFL) and 4.6 yards per carry (27th in league). QB Alex Smith had his worst game of 2012 last week in Minnesota, throwing for just 5.8 yards per attempt and posting a season-low 81.1 QB rating. Two of his top three receivers, Michael Crabtree and Mario Manningham, are averaging less than 10 yards per reception in this conservative passing attack, but TE Vernon Davis is the clear-cut favorite target in the red zone. His four touchdowns are tied atop the NFL league leaders, and including last year’s playoffs, he has eight touchdowns during a five-game TD streak. The 49ers defense has not performed what it is capable of doing yet, ranking 11th in total defense (321 YPG) and tied for 11th in scoring defense (21.7 PPG). Last year they ranked fourth in yardage (308 YPG) and second in points allowed (14.3 PPG). Star LB Patrick Willis sprained his ankle in last week’s game and is listed as questionable for Week 4. However, he has been practicing fully so the team expects him to be ready to play on Sunday.
The Jets offense has stalled since putting up 48 points versus Buffalo in Week 1. In two games since, they have just 33 points, while rushing for a mere 178 yards on 55 carries (3.2 YPC). Top RB Shonn Greene’s poor 2.8 YPC average could allow the Jets to give more touches to second-year pro Bilal Powell, who has gained a solid 4.0 YPC on his 22 carries. But San Francisco is never an easy team to run on, putting the pressure on QB Mark Sanchez to gain yards through the air. Sanchez started slow last week (2 INT) in the OT win in Miami, but finished strong with 306 yards and a game-tying TD pass in the fourth quarter. What helped Sanchez was WR Santonio Holmes having a field day against the Dolphins, catching nine passes for 147 yards. The offense could be without two key players on Sunday as both TE Dustin Keller and WR Stephen Hill are questionable with injured hamstrings. Defensively, the Jets will try to get after the quarterback and force some turnovers. New York has prompted six opponents’ miscues in its two wins, but failed to force a turnover in the loss at Pittsburgh two weeks ago.