Jones-less Dirty Birds still ready to rip Niners
Atlanta aced its preliminary test without top wideouts Julio Jones and Mohamed Sanu. But will things take a more arduous turn against San Francisco?
The general population clearly doesn’t think so. Matt Ryan and the Falcons are attracting 84 percent of wagers entering this afternoon’s meeting with the cellar-dwelling 49ers. Chip Kelly’s group is coming off a 23-17 overtime loss to the Jets, whereas Atlanta obliterated the Rams in Week 14. That 42-14 triumph over Los Angeles featured heroics from the unheralded likes of Taylor Gabriel and Tevin Coleman. Look for the supporting cast to step up here, as well.
Oakland may have to lean on several non-principle performers vs. San Diego, too. Derek Carr, Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree continue to battle injuries. Still, the Chargers’ secondary frequently looks overwhelmed. To make matters worse, the hosts can’t deploy star rusher Melvin Gordon. The Wisconsin product will miss his first contest in nearly a year due to knee and hip ailments. As a result, 82 percent of the audience favors the Silver and Black.
In the Mile High City, Denver’s getting no love whatsoever. Eighty-one percent of patrons prefer New England, on a short week, on the road. Tom Brady just torched Baltimore’s venerable defense for 406 yards and three touchdowns. But while the Broncos must undoubtedly pay close attention to No. 12, they’re also tasked with keeping LeGarrette Blount in check. The Pats’ bruising tailback’s on pace for 1,266 yards and 17 scores.
Green Bay certainly doesn’t specialize in grinding it out on the ground. Yet that could be necessary at a frigid Soldier Field shortly. The Bears turn to signal-caller Matt Barkley for the fourth straight tilt, and No. 1 receiver Alshon Jeffery returns from a PED suspension. In the end, though, 81 percent of the crowd pledges allegiance to Aaron Rodgers & Co.
Finally, the Texans (7-6) hope for a boost following a rough four-game stretch. That figures to come in the form of a visit from the hapless Jaguars. Seventy-seven percent of individuals expect Bill O’Brien’s bunch to send Jacksonville to 2-12. Houston, of course, wants to see DeAndre Hopkins bust out with his first 100-yard performance since Sept. 18.