Welcome to the Monday Night Football betting breakdown, where each week I’ll provide a detailed betting overview of the upcoming Monday 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 2020 Week 13 MNF showcase features an interconference showdown between the Buffalo Bills and San Francisco 49ers at State Farm Stadium, normally the home of the Arizona Cardinals. Due to COVID-19 restrictions in the Niners’ home city of Santa Clara, the team will play this game and a Week 14 contest against Washington in this venue.
The two clubs most recently met in Week 6 of the 2016 season, when Buffalo throttled San Francisco by a 45-16 margin.
The Bills enter this contest in the driver’s set in the AFC East, boasting an 8-3 record that affords them a one-game lead over the surprising Miami Dolphins. Buffalo was able to get back in the win column against the Chargers in Week 12 to maintain that narrow edge. Meanwhile, the 49ers have to essentially run the table the rest of the way to have a chance at getting into the postseason. San Francisco got back three key offensive pieces in Raheem Mostert, Jeff Wilson and Deebo Samuel in Week 12, which was enough to help them edge the division-rival Rams by a 23-20 score on a field goal by Robbie Gould as time expired.
All betting takes will be classified as a “pick” or “lean”, 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 MNF, and a synopsis of the history of the line movement for the game, please see our Monday Night Football Betting Preview over at TheLines.
The line for this game has notably been moving in one direction since the open. Rather surprisingly, it’s been towards the 49ers, despite the fact the Bills have a three-game edge on them in wins and San Francisco isn’t even playing on its customary home field of Levi Stadium. The fact the Bills have lost their last two road games against teams with winning records (Titans, Cardinals) and will once again be without the speedy John Brown (ankle) versus a defense that could be poised to play its best football over the last quarter of the campaign could certainly be factoring in.
The Niners have the ability to make this an all-around unfavorable matchup for the Bills. To begin with, Buffalo’s offense, which already tilts toward the passing game, appears to be at a different level when the threat of Brown isn’t available. Coach Sean McDermott’s club has averaged just 17.0 points in the three games Brown has missed thus far, compared to 31.0 in the eight games he’s been available for. Then, Josh Allen, who’s been guilty of 13 total turnovers (eight interceptions, five lost fumbles), has seen five of those occur in the trio of contests without his No. 2 receiver. Three of the picks and two of the fumbles have occurred over the three games Brown has missed. The Niners would make for a thorny matchup under any circumstance, but perhaps even more so with Brown absent. San Fran is allowing the fourth-fewest passing yards per game (206.5), including just 199.7 over the last three contests, and has picked off 10 passes.
The prevailing problem for Allen when he can’t get fully on track through the air is his backfield isn’t always capable of keeping defenses honest. Buffalo generates the sixth-fewest rushing yards per road game (93.8), while its offensive line facilitates a sparse 4.03 adjusted line yards per carry. Meanwile, the Niners are ranked in the top 10 in both adjusted line yards (3.98) and RB yards (3.65) yards per carry, yielding just 108.7 rushing yards per game despite their front seven having endured multiple season-ending injuries.
It’s quite a different outlook on the other side, where Niners coach Kyle Shanahan could have a golden opportunity to utilize a full-strength ground attack in a frequency akin to the NFC-high 51.39 percent of the time he deployed it during the 2019 NFC Championship campaign. After getting Mostert and Wilson back last week, the Niners now prepare for the return of Tevin Coleman after a three-game absence due to a knee injury. The Bills are already allowing 129.6 rushing yards per contest, along with 4.57 RB yards per carry, including an NFL-high 1.56 second-level yards per tote.
Mullens will get Brandon Aiyuk back from the reserve/COVID-19 list for this contest, which, when paired with Deebo Samuel, gives him a potent pair of options when putting the ball up. The matchup isn’t quite as appealing in that area, however — Buffalo is giving up a respectable 226.0 passing yards per game and 6.5 yards per attempt on the road while also recording 30 sacks overall.
While the Bills have undeniably had the better overall season, the 49ers have considerable urgency in this spot and are getting healthier by the week. With San Fran potentially controlling this game on the ground and thereby making any passing potentially more effective, I lean toward the “home team” pulling off a very close victory.
The Lean: 49ers moneyline (-120 or better)
MNF Point Spread
The Bills are 6-5 (54.5 percent) against the spread this season, including 2-3 (40.0 percent) as a road team and 3-0 in non-conference matchups.
The 49ers are 5-6 (45.5 percent) against the spread this season, including 1-4 (20.0 percent) as a home team and 2-1 (66.7 percent) in non-conference matchups.
In accordance with my theory the desperate 49ers find a way to squeeze out a close win in this spot, I naturally lean toward them covering this number.
The Lean: 49ers +1 or better
MNF Over/Under Total
The Over is 7-3-1 (70.0 percent) in Buffalo’s games this season, including 3-1-1 (75.0 percent) in its road games and 3-0 in its non-conference matchups.
Then, the Over is 5-6 (45.5 percent) in San Francisco’s games this season, including 2-3 (40.0 percent) in its games as a home team and 2-1 (66.7 percent) in its non-conference matchups.
As mentioned earlier, the Niners defense presents a bad matchup overall for Buffalo without the speedy Brown available, particularly if it can make the Bills largely one-dimensional. Then, while Mullens is serviceable, Shanahan is likely to focus on a run-heavy approach for the multiple reasons discussed earlier.
When also factoring in both teams rank in the bottom half of the league in overall pace – the Bills are averaging the 11th-most seconds between plays (28.15) while the 49ers check in as the sixth-slowest team (28.77 seconds between plays) – I’m in the camp of the Under.
The Pick: Under 47.0 points or better
Best MNF Prop Bets
Raheem Mostert Over 53.5 rushing yards (-110 or better)
Mostert logged 29 snaps in his return from injured reserve last week, and having gotten through the game without setbacks, he could be ready for an even bigger workload. Tevin Coleman will return from a knee injury in this game, but the veteran has been sparingly used even when active, as Mostert is the faster, more effective back at this point in their respective careers. Mostert is once again averaging over 5.0 yards per carry in 2020, a figure he’s never finished any season below thus far in his career. Then, the Bills’ various deficiencies against the run, especially at the second level, were already covered earlier, which enhances the chances of the hard-running Mostert exceeding this mark without an inordinate amount of carries.