Decorate the halls with a bough of pink! What better way to celebrate the holidays than with some football games on Christmas Eve? The 49ers will be looking to extend their seven-game winning streak against a formidable opponent in the Washington Commanders.
The DraftKings Sportsbook currently has the 49ers listed as a 6.5-point favorite, with over/under set at 37.5. Here are some things to watch in this game.
The 49ers defense has a chance to make history
This 49ers defense has the talent across the board to match any of the great defenses of the last 25 years. In Saturday’s game against the Chiefs, they’ll have a chance to accomplish something no historic defense has done before.
The 49ers have held opponents under 70 yards in seven straight games, and the vaunted 2000 Ravens defense is tied for the longest streak in NFL history. If they can rein in Brian Robinson and stop Washington’s rushing offense to less than 70 yards, they will cement their place in the history books as the only team ever to accomplish such a feat.
The Leaders pose a serious challenge to the 49ers as they try to break that record, rushing for over 125 yards in six straight games heading into this game. However, the edge still lies with San Francisco and its premiere rushing defense that has only allowed 3.4 yards per carry this season.
Oh, and if it wasn’t already hard for Washington to run the ball into this one, Javon Kinlaw will reportedly be back on the field on Saturday, too.
Can Brock Purdy keep this train rolling?
Since taking over after Jimmy Garoppolo was injured on first drive in the Week 49 win over the Dolphins, Purdy has executed the offense with great efficiency. The seventh-round rookie played with the balance of a seasoned veteran, allowing the 49ers offense to continue to put points on the board at a respectable clip.
Here are Purdy’s numbers since coming off the bench in the second series of the 49ers’ win over the Dolphins.
69 percent completion rate
7.2 yards per attempt
108.3 pass rating
Purdy has been great under the current circumstances, but the upcoming game against the Commanders could prove to be the toughest test yet. The biggest question is…
What version of Commander Defense will we see?
Washington currently boasts a top ten ranking in scoring and complete defense, and ranks ninth in points against and fourth in yards allowed. The Commanders are a formidable and powerful unit at all three levels, particularly in the trenches, as they boast one of the strongest defensive lines in the league. They’ll also get reinforcements, as 2020 Defensive Player of the Year Chase Young will reportedly return to the field in Santa Clara.
However, there has been a huge difference in how the Washington defense performs when they play a high-end offense this season compared to the rest of the field. In their four games with an offense currently ranked in the top ten, they have allowed 26.5 points per game. In their 10 games against everyone else, they’ve only allowed 17.
The 49ers offense currently ranks seventh in yards per game and tied for tenth in points per game. The offense on its own has averaged over 26 points per game since Purdy has been under center, so this game is as much a test for the defense leaders as it is for the Purdy offense and the 49ers.
One area where the Chiefs defense has excelled this season in particular is their bottom third defense. Opponents have converted just 32 percent of their third bad attempts against the leaders this season, which ranks fourth in the entire NFL this season. season.
The 49ers have made a remarkable turnaround in the turnover margin department this season, and currently sit at +7 on the year, which is the third-best turnover difference in the league behind only Dallas (+9) and Philadelphia (+12).
After heading into a bye at -3 on the season, the 49ers have been exceptional over the past six weeks, scoring 13 takeaways while only coughing the ball three times, good for a +10 margin over that span.
Washington, on the other hand, is currently at -2 on the season, and its defense is tied for the fifth-fewest takeaways on the season. If the trend of both teams continues to serve, then the path to the victory of the leaders in this game becomes very difficult for them.
Epic battle in the trenches
These are two of the best defensive lines in football, with both units having impressive depth and heavy starts loaded with household names and notable players.
The 49ers and captains have each had no fewer than seven players posting double-digit pressure this season, and it will be fascinating to see how each side deploys its replacements throughout the game to keep quality players fresh.
Jonathan Allen and Daron Payne combined for 84 pressures and 17 sacks on the season, giving the inside of the 49ers offensive line its toughest challenge of the season so far. It should be a great game at the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball.
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