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Niners Roll on MNF, Extend NFC West Lead Heading into Week 12

An Alex Smith-less 49ers squad was still able to maul the helpless Chicago Bears last night on Monday Night Football 32-7 to extend their lead in the NFC West with a 7-2-1 record against second place Seattle’s 6-4. The league’s best defense looked good against Chicago, holding the Bears to just 143 yards, while piling up 355 of their own with backup quarterback Colin Kaepernick under center. With Arizona and St. Louis continuing to slide, San Fran’s only roadblock from winning the NFC West for a second straight season, may be the Seahawks, who will be favored this week in a match-up with the Miami Dolphins. Here is a look ahead to week 12 in the NFC West and as always, some winning point-spread picks.

San Francisco 49ers 7-2-1 at New Orleans Saints 5-5

The Niners should dominate the Saints

Although Alex Smith will be available for this week’s road game against the Saints after missing Monday night’s game with a concussion, 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh has said that he will go with “the hot hand” for this week. He didn’t say Kaepernick would get the start, but he certainly implied it with that comment considering Kaepernick’s solid performance in the win over the Bears. However, the whoever starts at QB may not matter for a team that ranks first in the league in rushing and is a top defensive power.

However, they will be encountering one of the league’s hottest teams, the Saints, who started the season 0-4, but have gone 5-1 since. The Saints appear to be back in top form offensively, but have struggled on the defensive side, ranking last in run defense and second to last in pass defense. That will be a huge concern entering this week’s contest, considering they will be up against the league’s best rush offense.

Although the Saints are hot, this match-up should cool them off. There’s just no way the worst run defense will stop the league’s best rush offense. Take the Niners to cover -2 points this weekend.

Seattle Seahawks 6-4 at Miami Dolphins 4-6

Look for Seattle to find plenty of success on both sides of the ball

Although this match-up favors the Seahawks very well, the fact is, Seattle has struggled mightily on the road this season and has just a 1-4 record away from CenturyLink Field. This might be the only advantage the Dolphins have though, as they will send the 24th and 21st ranked passing and rushing offenses, respectively, against the 3rd ranked defense against the pass and 12th ranked against the run. The Seahawks should also have success running the football themselves with the 6th best ground attack.

When you consider that Miami is only 2-2 at home, it makes you wonder if the Phins have any advantages at all. I like Seattle to easily cover the -3 point spread in this one to keep pace with the surging 49ers.

St. Louis Rams 3-6-1 at Arizona Cardinals 4-6

This match-up features two teams that started strong, but have gone on significant skids, Arizona’s current six-game losing streak being the third longest of any team this season. The Rams haven’t fared much better, as they are winless in their last five contests.

Someone’s gotta win this week between these two and I think it will be the Rams. The Rams at least have a quarterback and a decent running game. St. Louis has lost close games and even tied San Fran, whereas the Cardinals have simply looked terrible recently. Look for St. Louis to take this one and cover +1 on the road this week.




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