BUFFALO, N.Y. [WKBW] — Despite opening up as a three-point favorite at most casinos and betting websites, the Buffalo Bills are now a one-point underdog as they get ready to take on the San Fransisco 49ers on Monday Night Football. Can the Bills pull the upset and win their first game on Monday Night Football since 1999? Here's what our sports team thinks:
The Bills' lack of success on Monday Night Football is wild. Some of you probably weren't even alive in 1999.
Now here's the caveat with that previous stat. The Bills won a game on Monday night in 2014 against the New York Jets. But the game wasn't branded as a Monday Night Football game, it was pushed back because of a terrible snowstorm here in Western New York. With all the snow at Ralph Wilson Stadium, the game was played in Detroit at Ford Field, where the Kyle Orton led Bills won 38-3.
Those were the days. The Bills, if lucky, would have one primetime game each season. Now the Bills are getting ready to play four consecutive nationally televised games beginning with Monday's game in Arizona against the 49ers. But can they get the win?
Even with all their injuries, the 49ers are still a very good team. Without their starting quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo and star tight end George Kittle, they've still managed to stay in the playoff hunt with a 5-6 record.
On offense, you can expect a run-first approach from the 49ers led by Raheem Mostert, Jerick McKinnon, and Tevin Coleman. All three offer something different and can break off big plays. With backup quarterback Nick Mullens under center, the 49ers will likely lean on the run-game to move the ball against a Bills defense that has struggled to stop the run. Wide receiver Deebo Samuel is another player the Bills need to emphasize stopping. Against the Rams in Week 12, Samuel had 13 targets, 11 receptions, and 133 yards.
As for the Bills offense, it wasn't the cleanest outing last week coming out of the bye week. Despite putting up 27 points, the Bills committed three turnovers, all coming in the fourth quarter. Josh Allen played fine but will need a strong outing on Monday against a solid 49ers defense. Stefon Diggs will likely be shadowed by cornerback Richard Sherman, which should allow Cole Beasley and Gabriel Davis to be targeted early and often.
This game is shaping up to be a battle and should be close until the final whistle. But Sean McDermott teams rarely get beaten by backup quarterbacks.
Bills 26, 49ers 24
Season record: 9-2
We all know State Farm Stadium was not so pleasant to the Bills the first time around, but I think they'll have a better outing this time. It's going to be close though.
The 49ers are still alive in the playoff hunt and they do a few things well. They can run the ball and that's an area the Bills defense has struggled. They're also good at forcing turnovers, which was the kryptonite of the Bills offense in the final quarter against the Chargers last week.
But the Bills are doing good things too and I think they're the better team here. Josh Allen can outperform Nick Mullens and, in a game, where it could come down to the Bills defense, I wouldn't bet against a unit that's starting to peak at the right time of the season.
I don't think this is going to be a blowout by any means but I' m going with the Bills in a close one because they'll have a little more at the end of the day. Oh, and I think we all know an Andre Roberts touchdown or kickoff return is coming.
Bills 24, 49ers 20
Season record: 8-3
At the start of the year, the 49ers looked like they might have been the toughest matchup on the schedule. Now, they're the most winnable matchup in the best division in football.
Think the Bills have had the injury bug bad this season? Since roster cuts, 12 different players have had stints on injured reserve. The 49ers more than double that-- 28 players, at one point or another, have been on IR this season.
The fact that they're still competitive despite that is mind boggling. And it's a testament to the team's depth and coaching. But the sole factor that's irreplaceable is a quarterback; something the 49ers have been missing all season.
San Francisco is a run-first team that will try to establish the tempo and control the ball & the clock. If the Bills can jump out to an early lead, like they've done often this year, backup quarterback Nick Mullens isn't built to complete a comeback, even if Buffalo lets the Niners hang around in this one.
Bills 27, 49ers 22
Season record: 7-4