NFL Betting Picks: San Francisco 49ers at Carolina Panthers

NFL Betting Picks:  San Francisco 49ers at Carolina Panthers

The San Francisco 49ers began their quest to return to the Super Bowl this past Sunday by beating the Packers in Green Bay. Now they face another tough road assignment as they face the upstart Carolina Panthers in Charlotte, NC. The Panthers were the surprise team of the NFL this season and earned a first round bye. The winner of this contest will face the winner of the game between the Seattle Seahawks and New Orleans Saints for the right to go to the Super Bowl.

It’s not an easy task to play a tough Carolina team on their home field but on at least one level the trip to Charlotte will be a welcome relief to the San Francisco 49ers. After playing in subzero temperatures in Green Bay last weekend even unseasonably cool weather in the Carolinas will be a welcome relief with temperatures forecast in the high 40s. Of course the weather was fine when these teams played in San Francisco earlier this season as the Panthers beat the Niners 10-9 in a defensive clinic. It could be more of the same here as both defensive units are still in top form. Niners’ quarterback Colin Kaepernick has improved his play since the earlier meeting but that’s likely negated by the fact that his Panthers’ counterpart Cam Newton also continues to improve.

The Niners have a formidable weapon in running back Frank Gore which combined with the versatile and unpredictable Kaepernick is a scary one-two punch ground attack. That is something of an edge for San Francisco but the flip side is that Carolina might have the best defensive front seven in football. Their pass rush has been downright nasty in the second half of the season–they enter this contest with 15 sacks in the last two games!

Ultimately we’ve got to back the home team in what should be a very closely contested game. There have only been five home underdogs in the NFL Divisional Rounds since the mid 1970’s and four of these five teams have won outright. In a ‘pick’em’ game we’ll take the home side getting a couple of points.