49ers vs. Patriots NFL Week 15 Preview

Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

Game Details

Stadium: Gillette Stadium
Network: NBC – Sunday Night Football
Kickoff: 8:20 pm ET
Weather: 36/38 Temp, 60% chance of rain, 12 mph winds

Important Stats

New England Patriots

Point Differential: +198 (1st)
Yards per game: 425.7 (1st). Yards allowed per game: 376.3 (26th).
Passing yards per game: 285.8 (5th). Passing yards allowed per game: 275.5 (29th).
Rushing yards per game: 139.9 (7th)  Rushing yards allowed per game: 100.8 (8th).
Turnover Differential: +24 (1st).
Sacks: 28 (t-19th). Sacks allowed: 20 (5th).
Offensive 3rd down efficiency: 52.5% (1st)
Defensive 3rd down efficiency: 41.7% (26th)

San Francisco 49ers

Point Differential: +132 (2nd)
Yards per game: 360.1 (11th)  Yards allowed per game: 275.5 (2nd)
Passing yards per game: 198.5 (26th). Passing yards allowed per game: 184.7 (2nd).
Rushing yards per game: 161.5 (2nd). Rushing yards allowed per game: 90.8 (2nd)
Turnover Differential: +6 (11th)
Sacks: 32 (10th) Sacks allowed:38 (27th).
Offensive 3rd down efficiency: 36.1% (21st)
Defensive 3rd down efficiency: 31.4% (2nd)

Preview

Looking at the stats you could certainly justify picking either team. The 49ers have a terrific defense and the Patriots have the best offense in the league. If you haven’t been paying attention this season, you wouldn’t have realized the Patriots actually have the more balanced offense. Though the 49ers are better running the ball, they struggled getting the ball down the field in the passing game.

The Patriots are top 10 in every major offensive category. The only place they struggle is against the pass on defense, but the 49ers aren’t a great team in that department. That said, the 49ers can get very creative on offense at times and something tells me they will have some new plays up their sleeves to exploit the Patriots’ secondary.

Even still, I don’t have enough confidence in the 49ers to slow down the Patriots with this game being in Foxboro. The Patriots haven’t lost a game at home in December in forever, and the trend will continue Sunday night. Tom Brady is a leading MVP candidate and playing extremely well.

The Patriots should actually be able to slow down the 49ers’ run game. Vince Wilfork is playing out of his mind defensively and they have a bunch of athletes in the front seven. Take away that and the 49ers struggle, as evidenced in the last two games against the St. Louis Rams and the game against the New York Giants.

The Patriots absolutely dismantled the Houston Texans last week.  With the chance to gain some ground in the race for AFC home field advantage, expect Brady to take full advantage. It won’t be easy, and the weather will play a huge factor, but the Patriots will do just enough to come out on top.

Prediction: Patriots 24, 49ers 17

Jeff is an NFL Featured Columnist for RantSports.com. Like Jeff’s Facebook Page here. Follow him on Twitter @Jeff_Shull


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