Welcome to the Thursday Night Football betting breakdown, where each week I’ll provide a detailed betting overview of the upcoming Thursday Night Football game utilizing moneyline, points spread and projected total odds from DraftKings Sportsbook and FanDuel Sportsbook. I’ll also highlight at least one player- or game-based prop each week that I feel has profit potential.
The NFL’s Week 9 Thursday night showcase features an NFL Championship Game rematch between the Green Bay Packers and San Francisco 49ers at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara. Each squad comes in reeling from Week 8 results. The Packers were surprised at home by the division-rival Vikings. The 49ers suffered a double-digit defeat to the Seahawks while seeing two more key players in Jimmy Garoppolo (ankle) and George Kittle (foot) go down with serious injuries.
That’s not to say all is well on the health front in Green Bay. The Packers are facing the very real possibility of having to trot out a makeshift backfield in this contest. The availability of Aaron Jones (calf), who’s already missed the last two games, will reportedly come down to a game-time decision. Then, both Jamaal Williams and A.J. Dillon hit the reserve/COVID-19 list Tuesday. That could whittle the ground attack down to Tyler Ervin and Dexter Williams.
All betting takes will be classified as a “pick”, with considerations such as relevant injuries, past betting trends and recent performances of each team leading up to the game factoring in.
For more detailed information on this week’s matchup – including further game analysis, betting trends breakdown, betting tips specific to TNF, and a synopsis of the history of the line movement for the game, please see our Thursday Night Football Betting Preview over at TheLines.
The two teams taking the field for this game will bear little resemblance to the two that clashed for the right to be the NFC representative in Super Bowl LIV last January. That’s especially true on San Francisco’s end of things.
In addition to Garoppolo and Kittle being down, the Niners will be without Raheem Mostert (ankle), Jeff Wilson (ankle), Tevin Coleman (knee) and Deebo Samuel (hamstring) on Thursday. Then, the 49ers also have Nick Bosa (knee), Solomon Thomas (knee), Dee Ford (neck) and Richard Sherman (calf) on injured reserve on the defensive side of the ball.
Nick Mullens will take over under center for the Niners for the next several weeks. The 25-year-old has 13 games of NFL experience, including eight as a rookie back in 2018. Mullens has proven capable of keeping the Niners offense afloat in the past. However, the fact he’ll head into battle without his top receiver and tight end, along with so many injuries at running back, certainly doesn’t help his cause. The Packers secondary has also been above average in yielding the 12th-fewest passing yards per contest (227.6), but they’ve also given up a 71.5 percent completion rate that ranks as the third highest in the league.
The Packers have allowed 123.2 rushing yards per road game and bottom-10 figures in both adjusted line yards (4.72) and RB yards (4.66) per carry. However, San Francisco is left with just Jerick McKinnon and JaMycal Hasty to attack that weakness with. The Niners’ offensive line has generated an impressive 4.56 RB yards per rush, but both McKinnon and Hasty have fallen below that number individually – the former averages 4.4 yards per carry, while the latter puts up just 4.1 yards per tote.
Rodgers does have a more favorable matchup against the depleted Niners defense than he did a year ago. However, while there’s certainly been some drop-off in performance, the Niners are still yielding a very respectable 314.6 yards per game. The encouragingly strong play of cornerback Jason Verrett, who’d missed most of the last four seasons with various injuries, has helped in the absence of Sherman. The Packers do come in boasting the most points per drive (3.24) and NFL’s highest drive success rate (79.8 percent). In turn, the Niners counter with the seventh-fewest points per drive (1.82) and sixth-lowest drive success rate (69.2 percent) allowed.
What should also make this game tighter than oddsmakers are projecting is the likelihood Rodgers is forced to play with a struggling running game backing him up. Not only is the RB corps likely down to Ervin and (Dexter) Williams, but the Niners are giving up the fourth-lowest RB yards per carry (3.45) coming in. Rodgers is undoubtedly talented enough to still put his healthier team on his shoulders and pull out the win against a short-handed San Fran squad, but it doesn’t project to be easy.
The Pick: Packers moneyline (-200 or better)
TNF Point Spread
The Packers are 5-2 (71.4 percent) against the spread this season, including 3-1 (75.0 percent) as a road team and 4-2 (66.7 percent) in conference games.
The 49ers are 4-4 against the spread this season, including 1-3 (25.0 percent) as a home team and 2-3 (40.0 percent) in conference games.
While I believe the Packers will pull out the victory here, I think the margin is going to be fairly thin. With a 6.0-point figure now available, I lean toward San Fran having enough to keep it closer than that number but coming up short.
(UPDATE 11/5: With Kendrick Bourne and Aiyuk now also on the COVID list, the 49ers passing game is even further depleted, and their underdog status has expanded further. As such, I’m still leaning toward San Fran squeaking out a cover of a number that’s as high as 7.5 on DK Sportsbook).
The Lean: 49ers +7.5 or better
TNF Over/Under Total
The Over is 4-3 (57.1 percent) in Green Bay’s games this season, including 2-2 in its away games and 4-2 (66.7 percent) in its games against NFC opponents.
Then, the Over is 4-4 in San Francisco’s games this season, including 1-3 (25.0 percent) in its home games and 2-3 (40.0 percent) in its games against conference opponents.
There are simply too many absences on either squad in terms of skill positions for me to have confidence in 51 points or more being scored. Considering Green Bay could be rendered one-dimensional against a tough defense and Mullens could well see some drives stall via turnover or inaccuracy, I’m going with the Under.
The Pick: Under 50.5 points or better
Best TNF Prop Bet
Aaron Rodgers Over 10.5 rushing yards (-115 or better)
No team has allowed more rushing yards to quarterbacks than the 49ers, which have surrendered 276 and two touchdowns on 48 attempts to signal callers. Rodgers only has 10 rush attempts on the season for 54 yards, but he’s exceeded this figure in three games already and could be on the move more than once against San Francisco’s strong group of pass rushers.