In every other year when a team lost a Super Bowl in the previous season, it was able to put that defeat in the rearview mirror in the following season's exhibition games. Of course, there were no preseason games in 2020 due to the coronavirus. Thus, the San Francisco 49ers take the field for the first time since blowing a 20-10 fourth-quarter lead over the Chiefs in Super Bowl 54 when the Niners host the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday. San Francisco is a 7-point favorite on the NFL odds and swept the 2019 season series but has failed to cover the past five vs. the Cards.
The 49ers made headliners with their acquisition of left tackle Trent Williams, who missed all of last season because of various health issues. The team traded fearsome defensive lineman DeForest Buckner to the Colts in order to free up salary-cap space. But they also found a prime candidate for his heir apparent in first-round draft pick Javon Kinlaw from South Carolina. However, two of the Niners' top receivers, Deebo Samuel and rookie first-round pick Brandon Aiyuk are questionable with injuries.
San Francisco's 2020 schedule opens up on the lighter side, with just one opponent in the first six games that posted a winning record last year. That team, the Philadelphia Eagles, went 9-7 and won the NFC East essentially by default. A Week 8 visit to the division rival Seattle Seahawks should serve as a strong litmus test, followed by an NFC title game rematch at Levi's Stadium against the Green Bay Packers.
Consider betting the 49ers in Week 2 at the Jets: San Fran went 3-0 ATS as a road favorite last year, part of a 7-1 road ATS mark.
SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS BETTING PROFILE
2019 record: 13-3, first in NFC West
2019 against the spread: 11-7-1
2019 ATS margin: +6.0 ppg, No. 2 in NFL
2019 Over-Under: 8-10
2020 strength of schedule: Fourth-toughest; their opponents combined for a .527 win percentage last year.
WILLIAM HILL 2020 SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS FUTURES ODDS
Win total: 10.5 (Over -125 favorite)
To make playoffs: Yes -360, no +280
Division: +105 to win NFC West
Conference: +325 to win NFC
NFL MVP: Jimmy Garoppolo +3000
Defensive Player of the Year: Nick Bosa +900
Comeback Player of the Year: Trent Williams +2500
SportsLine Model's projection: 10.8 wins (lean is Over)
Week 1 vs. Cardinals, 4:25 p.m. ET: The 49ers went 8-2 ATS as a home favorite last year.
Week 2 at Jets, 1 p.m. ET: The 49ers went 3-0 ATS in the regular season as road favorite last year.
Week 3 at Giants, 1 p.m. ET: The underdog is 5-1 ATS in the last six meetings.
Week 4 vs. Eagles, 8:20 p.m. ET: The total has gone Over in seven of the last 10 meetings.
Week 5 vs. Dolphins, 4:05 p.m. ET: The 49ers are 8-1 in their last nine meetings against Miami.
Week 6 vs. Rams, 8:20 p.m. ET: San Francisco is 3-8-1 ATS in its last 12 regular-season games against divisional opponents.
Week 7 at Patriots, 4:25 p.m. ET: The 49ers are 2-3 ATS in the last five meetings.
Week 8 at Seahawks, 4:25 p.m. ET: The 49ers were 4-1 ATS as a road underdog last year
Week 9 vs. Packers, 8:20 p.m. ET: The 49ers won both meetings last year by a combined score of 74-28, covering both.
Week 10 at Saints, 4:25 p.m. ET: The teams are 5-5-1 ATS in their past 11 meetings.
Week 11: Bye
Week 12 at Rams, 4:05 p.m. ET: The 49ers allowed just 157 total yards in a 20-7 victory over the Rams in Los Angeles last season.
Week 13 vs. Bills, 8:15 p.m. ET: The 49ers are 3-2 ATS in the last five meetings in this series.
Week 14 vs. Redskins, 4:25 p.m. ET: The 49ers have won five of the last six meetings but are just 3-3 ATS in those games.
Week 15 at Cowboys, 8:20 p.m. ET: The Cowboys are 4-1 ATS and SU in the past five meetings.
Week 16 at Cardinals, TBD: The 49ers were 7-1 ATS on the road last year.
Week 17 vs. Seahawks, 4:25 p.m. ET: The road team won outright as an underdog in both meetings last season.
Bottom line, hitting 11 Ws in this division would be quite a feat. Granted, two teams reached the landmark figure last year, but the Cardinals' projected improvement makes the task extra-difficult. Niners' opponents carved out a collective .527 win percentage in 2019, fourth highest in the NFL. The offseason has been productive, highlighted by the trade for veteran OT Trent Williams to replace the retired Joe Staley. But a gauntlet of rough road games (Patriots, Seahawks, Saints, Rams) starting Oct. 25 is broken up by a single home date (versus the Packers).
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