Unfortunately, last week’s first edition of this new weekly column was published on another site due to a technical error, but from this point on, they’ll be emanating from here on Contest General.
For those unfamiliar with my background mastering NFL totals, I’ve picked for VegasInsider.com in the past and have accumulated three straight years of hitting 60 percent or higher on football totals, going 21-13 (61.8 percent) in 2014, 19-12-2 (61.3 percent) in 2015 and 16-9-1 (64 percent) last season. Now let’s move onto Week 2.
Matt Zylbert’s 2017 NFL Over/Under Betting Record: 1-0, +100
Week 1: ARI/DET O48 (WIN)
*Each bet graded as if it were to win 100 dollars/units
San Francisco 49ers @ Seattle Seahawks
UNDER 42 (-120)
It’s not a stretch to say that both the Seahawks and 49ers struggled mightily on offense in their respective season openers a week ago. In fact, all they could muster was a handful of field goals, totaling a mere 12 points combined. Unsurprisingly, they also each took a decisive ‘L’ for their efforts.
So now we have a pair of 0-1 rival ballclubs playing in their first divisional contest of the campaign. One, of course, is the NFC West favorite and a perennial playoff contender; the other a hopeless cellar dweller that figures to be on their way to the same fate in 2017, especially considering the egg they delivered in their home opener.
When the egg hatched, all that could be found was a late, third quarter field goal, thanks in large part to a lackluster performance from new 49ers quarterback Brian Hoyer. The nine-year veteran wasn’t completely horrific, as he did complete 68.6 percent of his passes, but he wasn’t efficient either, stringing together the fourth-lowest yards-per-attempt (5.5) of any starting quarterback last weekend while also turning the ball over twice (one interception, one fumble).
That being a typical outing from Hoyer, how in the world can he suddenly pull something from under his sleeve and churn out a delightful stat line against an upper echelon Seahawks defense in their home opener? And in his first trip to Seattle, no less — probably the toughest place to play in on the road in pro football. That is a major, major variable and one that should result in another tough afternoon for San Francisco’s offense.
Defensively, the 49ers held up pretty good. In their first game under new head coach Kyle Shanahan, they played admirably, limiting Cam Newton to 14 of 25 passing and just 171 yards while also bottling him up to three rushing yards on six attempts. Carolina’s talented backs, Jonathan Stewart and rookie Christian McCaffrey, could only collectively manage 3.6 yards per carry as well. If not for gift field position stemming from Hoyer’s two turnovers, who knows if they’d have even allowed a touchdown?
Looking deep into it, this is a defense that actually compares to Seattle’s elite unit. Wait, what? Yes, that is not an exaggerated statement.
When Shanahan — a longtime admirer of Pete Carroll’s aggressive 4-3 system who became even more enamored by it after working alongside former Seahawks defensive coordinator Dan Quinn in Atlanta — arrived in San Francisco, he wanted to implement something similar. Not only has he done that, but his club also added three former Seahawks over the offseason to contribute towards that goal. His defensive coordinator, Robert Saleh, worked as an assistant in Seattle for three seasons.
See? The comparisons aren’t farfetched. And the idea that San Francisco’s D can continue to be good after its impressive Week 1 showing looks a little more believable. At the very least, they can still be solid enough in this particular spot, as Russell Wilson and Co. had a tough time of their own last Sunday in Green Bay. Now having to face a defense that is structured like its own, it will be far from a cakewalk for Wilson to get back on track and get his offense back in rhythm.
Thus, we’ll mainly be leaning on solid defensive play here, which seems more likely than not given the style of each defense in preventing big plays. Well, if you take that away and you have a matchup between two offenses who will have to grind it out after first-week struggles, that doesn’t exactly bode well for chunks of points being put on the board. And in turn, that could be the deciding factor in cashing this Under 42 wager.
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