Week 15 of the NFL season gets underway Thursday with an NFC West matchup between the San Francisco 49ers (-3.5, 43.5) and Seattle Seahawks. Despite all the changes at quarterback, the 49ers (9-4) have won six straight and can clinch the division with a win. The Seahawks (7-6) have lost three of four but remain in the playoff hunt.
What can we expect from a betting standpoint for Thursday night’s game?
Betting analysts Doug Kezirian, Tyler Fulghum, Joe Fortenbaugh, Anita Marks and Erin Dolan; fantasy and sports betting analysts Eric Moody and Andre Snellings; and ESPN Stats & Information’s Seth Walder, ESPN analyst Jason Fitz and Football Outsiders’ Aaron Schatz provide their top plays for the matchup.
Note: Lines from Caesars Sportsbook unless otherwise indicated.
Brock Purdy and the San Francisco 49ers (-3.5, 43.5) head to Lumen Field on Thursday night to face Geno Smith and the Seattle Seahawks. What are your thoughts on the spread and total, and who are you taking to win the game?
Kezirian: I’ve been a Seattle backer nearly every week this season, but I am on the Niners. Purdy looked outstanding, and obviously a few plays were fairly fortunate, but this is more about a Seattle defense that has been limping to the finish line. It ranks 22nd overall in defensive efficiency, but over the past five weeks it ranks fifth worst in expected points added — and that was facing the offensively challenged Bucs, Rams and Panthers, along with the Raiders.
Plus, the Seahawks coming off an exhausting game with Carolina, which forced them to play catch-up nearly the entire way, while San Francisco was essentially able to rest its starters in the fourth quarter of a blowout win. I think the Niners are fresher on this short week late in the season and have a better defense, so I will lay the points.
Schatz: If I had to bet this game, I would take the Seahawks +3.5, but I’m not interested if the line moves to -3, and I’m not interested in playing the total either. Vegas is pretty spot on with this one. The 49ers are fantastic, currently the top team in Football Outsiders’ weighted DVOA, but you still have to discount them a little bit for both Purdy at quarterback and the injury to Deebo Samuel. The Seahawks, meanwhile, might be a little underrated. They’re still No. 11 in weighted DVOA with a top-10 offense despite a down performance in Week 14. So I’d take the Seahawks if I get that half a point, and I’m staying away if I don’t.
Marks: Give me Seattle and the points. Yes, the Seahawks have lost three of their past four, but they have covered five of their past six games. The 49ers are beat up, and Purdy is dealing with an oblique injury — on a short work week — and making his first road start. In fact, the 49ers have had the luxury of hosting four of their past five games (although one was in Mexico). The Seahawks are averaging 24 points per game and have the offensive firepower to keep this close. They can at least cover with the hook.
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Christian McCaffrey rushed for 119 yards and had two touchdowns last week. San Francisco averaged nearly 6 yards per carry and now faces a Seahawks defense that ranks among the worst in stopping the run. McCaffrey’s rushing prop is listed at 80.5 yards, and his receiving yard prop is 39.5. Do you like him to exceed these totals Thursday night?
Snellings: I like McCaffrey over 124.5 total rushing/receiving yards. McCaffrey is such a dual threat that it’s sometimes difficult to guess where the yards are coming from. He rushed for 119 yards with “only” 34 receiving yards last week, but he went for 80 receiving yards and only 66 rushing yards the week before. He has gone well over 124.5 total yards in both games since Elijah Mitchell went down, and my only worry for this week is that McCaffrey is carrying an injury designation. But, if he’s healthy, he should go over.
Schatz: I’m going to go with McCaffrey under 80.5 rushing yards despite last week’s 119-yard performance. McCaffrey had fewer than 80 yards in the four previous games. In fact, he had fewer than 40 yards in three of those games. Yes, Mitchell was playing in those games, but Kyle Shanahan is not afraid to mix in Jordan Mason, who has had 50 yards in each of the past two games. I don’t think the 49ers are running away with this one, so they won’t be spending the entire second half doing nothing but salting away the clock.
Dolan: My eye is on McCaffrey over 17.5 rushing attempts. Shop this line, as you can find it lower at other books. McCaffrey has hit over this mark in only one of seven games in a 49ers uniform, but I expect him to go over this number with an injured Samuel and the Seahawks’ defense ranking 31st against the run (allowing 160.5 rushing yards per game). The Seahawks’ defense has continued to regress throughout the season. Purdy was impressive in his first career start, but he threw the ball only 21 times against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers last Sunday. Why switch up the game plan? Run the ball. McCaffrey goes over his rushing attempts.
Marks: I love C-Mac’s over in receiving yards. Samuel is expected to be inactive, so McCaffrey’s 30% target share should automatically increase. Seattle plays two-high safeties on defense and likes to keep everything underneath. “Captain Purdy Checkdown” should be looking for McCaffrey often.
Rookie running back Kenneth Walker III has rushed for 649 yards and nine touchdowns on 138 carries this season. Walker is currently listed at +300 to win the Offensive Rookie of the Year award. Do you like him to supplant Christian Watson (+300) and Garrett Wilson (+150) for the honor this year? And do you think he will have a big game Thursday night?
Snellings: It will be difficult for Walker to catch Wilson and Watson because his schedule down the stretch is brutal, starting Thursday night. The 49ers have the stingiest rushing defense in the NFL, allowing the fewest rushing yards and the second-fewest total touchdowns to the position (five in 13 games). I’m going under for all of Walker’s rushing props Thursday. And, for the rest of the season, all four teams he’ll face are among the 13 with the fewest rushing yards allowed to opposing running backs.
Is there anything else you are playing in this game?
Schatz: I will play Geno Smith over 1.5 touchdown passes (+112). Yes, the 49ers’ defense is great, but if the Seahawks do score touchdowns, they are probably getting them through the air. Remember, the weakness of the 49ers’ defense is deep passes, and the Seahawks are very strong on deep passes to Tyler Lockett and DK Metcalf. Plus, Smith has thrown for multiple touchdowns in seven straight games! Our projections estimate Smith goes over this prop 56% of the time, which isn’t great but looks nice with those positive odds.
Moody: George Kittle over 38.5 receiving yards. The Seahawks’ defense has been a liability. Over the past three games, Seattle’s defense has allowed opponents the fifth-most total yards. Kittle’s stats have been up and down all season, but he faces a Seahawks defense that has been torched by tight ends. With the injury to Samuel, 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan might have to draw up more plays for Kittle. The veteran tight end has averaged 62.4 receiving yards per game against the Seahawks in his career.
Marks: I do like Moody’s Kittle over, and I’ll add Marquise Goodwin over 23.5 receiving yards as well. He has become a go-to for Geno Smith. He had five catches on six targets last week for 95 yards and has four TDs in his past six games. Goodwin plays 54% of his snaps out of the slot, where the 49ers’ defense is most vulnerable. Goodwin has surpassed 23 receiving yards in seven of 10 games this season.
49ers-Seahawks on Thursday Night – NFL betting odds, picks, tips