Predictions & Projections
David Dorey
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CIN at PHI (THU) *GB at CHI *MIN at STL *SF at NE
*Updated *DET at ARI KC at OAK *SEA at BUF *NYJ at TEN (MON)

Prediction: SF 17, NE 27 (Line: NE by 3)

Players Updated: Mario Manningham

Players to Watch: Colin Kaepernick, Brandon Lloyd

This is the Sunday night game and should be a very good one. The 9-3-1 49ers come in with a 4-2 road record and face the 10-3 Patriots who are 5-1 at home having lost to the Cardinals there which is more shocking with every passing week. The Patriots are tied with the Broncos for the #2 seed and just beat the #1 seed Texans. They need this win to qualify for homefield and a first round bye. The 49ers have a half game lead on the Packers for the #2 seed in the NFC with a road game in Seattle left to play. The loser here will probably drop to a #3 seed which is a huge difference. It helps the Patriots significantly to be playing at home with the 49ers forced to travel across the country and play in far colder weather than they are used to. Just like the Texans last Monday night.

San Francisco 49ers
Homefield: Monster Park
  Opp Score   Opp Score
1 @GB 30-22 10 STL 24-24
2 DET 27-19 11 CHI 32-7
3 @MIN 13-24 12 @NO 31-21
4 @NYJ 34-0 13 @STL 13-16
5 BUF 45-3 14 MIA 27-13
6 NYG 3-26 15 @NE -----
7 SEA 13-6 16 @SEA -----
8 @ARI 24-3 17 ARI -----
9 BYE ----- ----- ----- -----
News | Statistics | Roster
vs Rush Catch Pass
WR Pierre Garcon 6-80,1

Pregame Notes: The 49ers redeemed themselves after losing to the Rams in week 13 by taking down the Dolphins with relative ease but that was at home and this week will be just the third time the 49ers have needed to travel to the northeast. The Seattle game following this is every bit as big and maybe more important, especially if the 49ers lose this week.

Colin Kaepernick has declined as a passer during his four starts and while that partially relates to the quality of opponents, it is somewhat troubling that defenses are catching onto him more now. Against the Dolphins he only passed for 185 yards but scored as a runner for the fifth time this year. So far Kaepernick threw for only three touchdowns. He's making an equally big impact as a runner. This week pits him against a very weak secondary but it is a road game and the Pats are better now. It is a great test to see just where Kaepernick is as a starter. In New Orleans, he only passed for 231 yards and one score but added a second one as a runner for comparison.

Frank Gore is not taking over any games and has been over 20 carries only three times this year. But he scored in each of the last three games which helps his 60 yard or so game he seems stuck at lately. Now that the Brandon Jacobs experiment is very much over, LaMichael James was given his first action of the year and gained 30 yards on eight runs while playing in a role just like Kendall Hunter would have. He is one to watch in this offense that could use a spark.

Mario Manningham was scratched last week because of his shoulder but may return. A.J. Jenkins was active for the first time but the rookie wideout never saw a pass. This week has Michael Crabtree as the standout receiver but he could be shadowed by Aqib Talib who is tentatively expected to play this week after suffering a hip pointer in the Texans matchup. Talib has made a huge difference to the secondary and no doubt will be tasked with Crabtree if possible. This is also the reunion of Randy Moss with his more recent employer. While that often prompts a bigger effort, Moss still likes the Patriots and has been little more than a minor player each week anyway.

The production in this game is dependent on how well the 49ers can slow down the Patriots pass attack. If they cannot, then the run goes away and Kaepernick is forced into a must-throw mode that should be more successful for him than the last several games.

Gaining Fantasy Points SF 13 12 24 9 11 17
Preventing Fantasy Points NE 29 12 27 31 8 1

QB Jimmy Garoppolo, SF JAC 0000024012 ***
Compared to how well they played most of the year, the Jags have been slightly shaky vs. QBs of late. Since Week 10, this unit still has more interceptions than TDs allowed, and the 198.7 yards allowed is the fourth-lowest figure. Quarterbacks have thrown a TD strike every 11 completions, which is the seventh-softest clip.
RB Jerick McKinnon, SF JAC 4005300000 ***
McKinnon's best fantasy day of the season came against the Packers in Week 6; Latavius Murray wasn't a factor in that game. The Packers have provided the 12th-most rushing yards, most receptions, and second-most receiving yards per contest to RBs in the last five weeks. This is the No. 2 matchup in PPR and slides to 13th in standard.
WR Marquise Goodwin, SF JAC 003400000 ***
Goodwin and Jimmy Garoppolo have been on the same page, and fantasy gamers have reaped the rewards. The Jaguars have given up six touchdowns in the last five games, which has been uncharacteristic of them in 2017. Three of those scores, however, came in the Week 14 game vs. Seattle. Every team is entitled to a bad game.
WR Trent Taylor, SF JAC 003300000 ***
The rookie is a glorified position receiver and works well out of the slot. PPR gamers may catch a break of Jacksonville affords him short receptions. Counting on him is asking a bit much, though, and he's best left for the bench in championship games.
WR Kendrick Bourne, SF JAC 002300000 ***
Bourne should remain as far away from a roster as possible.
TE Garrett Celek, SF JAC 003300000 *
In three of his last five games, Celek has at least 63 yards and a touchdown. He also has two games that combine for 37 yards on four catches. Life has improved with Jimmy Garoppolo under center in this offense. This should be one of those down weeks as the Jaguars have been lethal vs. the position, giving up one TE score in the last five games.

Update: Celek is questionable and wasn't able to practice in full all week. He's a gameday call.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Robbie Gould, SF JAC 3311 ***
Gould is on a three-game tear and has 38 fantasy points in this span. He is enjoying his finest season of his career, but the 49ers face a Jacksonville team giving up just 1.4 field goals per outing since Week 10.

New England Patriots
Homefield: Gillette Stadium
  Opp Score   Opp Score
1 @TEN 34-13 10 BUF 37-31
2 ARI 18-20 11 IND 59-24
3 @BAL 30-31 12 @NYJ 49-19
4 @BUF 52-28 13 @MIA 23-16
5 DEN 31-21 14 HOU 42-14
6 @SEA 23-24 15 SF -----
7 NYJ 29-26 16 @JAC -----
8 @STL 45-7 17 MIA -----
9 BYE ----- ----- ----- -----
News | Statistics | Roster
NE vs SF Rush Catch Pass
QB Tom Brady 280,2
WR Kenny Britt 5-80,1
TE Dwayne Allen 2-20
PK Stephen Gostkowski 2 FG 3 XP

Pregame Notes: The Patriots were so thoroughly dominant over the visiting Texans that it makes it hard not to just assume they'll manhandle the 49ers just as bad. The schedule makers were incredibly kind when they opted to give the Pats home venues for the matchups against the Houston and San Francisco defenses. After this week, all that is left is to smack down the Jaguars and then take down the visiting Dolphins who are somewhat spry when they play but always beatable.

Tom Brady had not problems with the Houston secondary as he shredded it for 296 yards and four touchdowns before finally leaving later in the game to go make some more commercials. He scores every week and at home has been less productive in most games because the rushing effort usually takes care of the win as well.

The Patriots are back to a full complement in the backfield with Brandon Bolden back and mixing in with Danny Woodhead, Shane Vereen and of course Stevan Ridley. The only consistency here is Ridley who has scored in six straight games and almost always gets 18+ carries in the game. The other three have been active and get some work, but this remains primarily Ridley's backfield and he is the preferred goal line back as well.

Donte Stallworth showed up on Monday night, caught one pass for 63 yards and a score and then suffered a high ankle sprain. He is now on inured reserve with a 63 yard average for the Patriots this year. Deion Branch was re-signed to take his place which was to replace Julian Edelman. What was forgotten was that Brandon Lloyd is still the starter and he finally showed up with seven receptions for 89 yards on the Texans last week. The defense took away Wes Welker (3-52) for most of the game and Lloyd was able to get involved.

This will be even more interesting than the Houston win because the Texans already had experienced problems in their secondary while the 49ers are a top unit across all positions. It does help to play at night on the other side of the country from what the 49ers are used to but this will be equally a good test for the Patriots and a scary thing if they in any way manhandle this defense as they did the Texans.

Gaining Fantasy Points NE 4 2 17 1 2 2
Preventing Fantasy Points SF 2 2 2 2 1 10

QB Tom Brady, NE BUF 0000026010 ***
Brady's worst fantasy outing of the year came in Week 13 against this defense. It marked the first game since Week 1 he didn't throw a touchdown pass. Versus Buffalo since Week 10, QBs have averaged 216.8 yards (25th) and 15 fantasy points (31st) per contest, tossing a TD every 27 catches (30th).
RB James White, NE BUF 3005300000 ***
White will get a few looks added to his workload with Rex Burkhead out of commission. The Patriots will spread it around, and Dion Lewis is the most likely recipient of the majority of extra touches. Buffalo has not allowed a receiving TD over the past 24 receptions. White caught four of his six targets for 32 yards in the Week 13 trip to Western New York.

Update: White is questionable and should be considered a gametime decision.
RB Mike Gillislee, NE BUF 3001100000 *
Gillislee will see some action in all likelihood with the expected loss of Rex Burkhead (knee). While it would be poetic if the former Bill rank roughshod over his former employer, starting and capping fantasy seasons with a bang, we can't bank on recommending him.

Update: Burkhead is indeed out.
WR Chris Hogan, NE BUF 002200000 ***
Hogan was a surprise scratch last week after playing through his shoulder injury in Week 14. If he cannot go, the offense loses a quality weapon in the intermediate- and long-range passing game. The Bills have held wideouts to three scores in the past five games, or once every 19 catches (25th). This is a bottom-six matchup in both scoring systems.

Update: Wait until about 90 minutes before kickoff, since the Patriots shroud everything in mystery. He's questionable and was limited Friday.
TE Rob Gronkowski, NE BUF 0081101000 ***
Gronk went for 147 yards on nine catches in the Week 13 trip to Buffalo. He torched them in the one game with Tom Brady last year, too, and 21-plus PPR points in three of his last four visits with the Bills. Since Week 10, this defense rates 12th-easiest in PPR (16th in standard).
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Stephen Gostkowski, NE BUF 2233 ***
All 11 extra point chances have been on the mark, and 11 of the 14 three-point kicks have been good. While this is the No. 17 matchup for XPAs, it is the third-best place to find a field goal.

CIN at PHI (THU) *GB at CHI *MIN at STL *SF at NE
*Updated *DET at ARI KC at OAK *SEA at BUF *NYJ at TEN (MON)

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