Before the start of the 2013 NFL season, the San Francisco 49ers were considered the favorites to win the Super Bowl. In Week 12, the defending NFC champs are in real danger of missing the playoffs.
Entering their "Monday Night Football" matchup with the Washington Redskins, the 49ers find themselves in a three-way tie for the sixth and final wild card spot in the conference. At 6-4, they share the same record with the Chicago Bears and Arizona Cardinals. The Carolina Panthers have the No.5 feed and defeated the 49ers in Week 10.
In most other divisions, the 49ers would still have a chance to claim the top spot, especially considering they still have a game left with the first-place Seattle Seahawks. However, Seattle’s 10-1 record makes them a runaway favorite to take home the NFC West title. They beat San Francisco in their one meeting this year.
The stiff competition in the NFC makes San Francisco’s game with Washington all the more important. The 49ers are on a two-game losing streak, including a heartbreaker to the New Orleans Saints last week. Garrett Hartley kicked a game-winning field goal for the Saints as time expired, shortly after a controversial penalty by linebacker Ahmad Brooks negated a Drew Brees fumble.
“At the end of the day, it’s just one loss,” tight end Vernon Davis said following the loss. “We’ve got six weeks to play for. We know the ultimate goal is to win as many games as you can and get into the playoffs.”
San Francisco is set to visit a Washington team that has fallen to last place in their division. The Redskins have struggled the entire season, failing to win back-to-back games. They are in the midst of a two-game losing streak, as well.
The bulk of Washington’s issues are on the defensive end. Robert Griffin III has not be able to replicate his performance from his rookie season, but he still leads an offense that is first in rushing and in the middle of the pack in points per game. On the other side of the ball, however, few teams have been worse than the Redskins. They are one of three teams that allow more than 30 points per contest.
The Redskins pass defense is one of the worst in the league, but they’ll be facing the No.32 ranked passing offense. Colin Kaepernick has thrown for just 1,802 yards and 11 touchdowns in his first full season as a starter. However, his rushing ability, along with running back Frank Gore, has enabled San Francisco to rank just ahead of Washington in scoring offense.
Kaepernick has struggled without a few of his top wide receivers from last year. Michael Crabtree has been out all season with a torn Achilles, but there’s a chance he’ll make his 2013 debut on Monday night. Mario Manningham came back two weeks ago after missing the first half of the season.
On the road, the betting line has San Francisco as 5.5-point favorites at most Las Vegas casinos. The over/under of 47 is higher than any total in the Sunday afternoon games.
The 49ers have covered the point spread in all of their victories. Only their first win came by less than double-digits. The Redskins have failed to cover the spread in all of their losses. They are just 1-6 against teams with a record of .500 or better.
Prediction: San Francisco 33, Washington 17