San Francisco 49ers (-3.5, 44 o/u) at New York Giants
Overcoming injury is nothing new to the San Francisco 49ers (5-4, 3-2 away); however, this season has been particularly tough, with linebacker Patrick Willis the latest to go down. There is good news for the limping Niners defense, though, as Aldon Smith will be back in action after serving a nine-game suspension for off-the-field issues.
The team is hoping Smith can contribute immediately. “He did participate in training camp 11 weeks ago,” said 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh. “I would refer back to last year, he missed five weeks and was able to come back and play snaps his first week back. So, good question. We’ll see, take it day by day.”
Emboldened by last week’s overtime win on the road against the Saints – where they not only covered as 4.5-point road dogs, but also snapped the Saints’ 11-game home winning streak – the 49ers have to be careful not to overlook the New York Giants (3-6, 2-2 home). Though the Giants have lost four straight, they will have running back Rashad Jennings back in the mix this Sunday. The Giants were able to string together three wins in a row earlier in the season, and Jennings was a big part of that success, rushing for 286 yards and averaging over five yards per carry. As a team, the Giants averaged 157 rushing yards during the win streak, pounding both Jennings and Andre Williams up the middle.
Jennings said, “That’s what I am here for. If I am on the field, there is no hesitation and wondering what if. I am picking up where I left off.”
At 3-6, it is likely too late for the Giants to make a serious playoff push – especially with division rivals Philadelphia and Dallas at 7-2 and 7-3 respectively. Giants coach Tom Coughlin is not amused at the prospect of missing the playoffs for a third straight year.
“It doesn’t feel good,” said Coughlin. “There is progress for me. There are a lot of things that you can point to that are good, but we are not finishing the job so that dominates all our thinking. We all know what this league is about. You have to win.”
While it’s tempting to take the Niners after their big win in New Orleans, they have been inconsistent all year and will be playing on the road against a proud team. There is a very real possibility that Jennings and the Giants will catch San Francisco off-guard. That’s why the Giants moneyline (+171) is so appealing.
(Photo credit: flickr user tedkerwin (flickr) [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons. Photo has been cropped.)
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