Entering Week 12, six teams that won their division last season were in danger of missing the playoffs this year. That includes the two clubs playing Monday night: the San Francisco 49ers and Washington Redskins. The Niners are six-point Bovada road favorites with live betting available.
The Redskins won their first NFC East title since 1999 last year, while the 49ers not only won the NFC West but a conference championship for the first time since 1994, the season of the team’s last Super Bowl title, although the Niners eventually lost to Baltimore in Super Bowl XLVII. What Washington and the 49ers had in common in 2012 was a dual-threat, first-year starter at quarterback.
For Washington that was Robert Griffin III, the 2012 NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year. His season ended poorly as RG3 tore knee ligaments in a playoff loss to Seattle. Despite not playing a down in the preseason, Griffin hasn’t missed a regular-season game. However, Griffin’s passing numbers are down and he’s not running anywhere near as much or as well because of that knee.
Last week in a crushing 24-16 loss at Philadelphia, Griffin threw a mind-boggling jump-ball pass toward the end zone on third-and-1 at the Eagles 18 in the final seconds that was easily picked off by Philadelphia. RG3 sort of shifted blame for that, and receiver Santana Moss called his teammate out early this week to take more personal responsibility as the leader, perhaps signifying a fractured locker room in Washington.
At 3-7, Washington isn’t out of the NFC East race yet, still only 2.5 games behind first-place Philadelphia. The Redskins were 3-6 last year before winning their final seven games. It might take a six-game win streak for Coach Mike Shanahan to keep his job, but that may be difficult to accomplish as Washington hasn’t won two straight this year.
The 49ers (6-4) held the final NFC wild-card spot entering Week 12. They have been streaky, currently on a two-game losing skid, their second of the season. Those sandwiched a dominant five-game winning streak.
Kaepernick, in his third season, didn’t take over as San Francisco’s starting QB until the team’s 10th game last season but was stellar, including setting an NFL quarterback rushing record with 181 yards, along with four total touchdowns, in a playoff win over Green Bay.
His breakout season led the Niners to trade Alex Smith to Kansas City, where he has led a big Chiefs turnaround. Kaepernick’s numbers are also down this season. He is completing 56.2 percent of his passes, one of the NFL’s worst marks, for 1,802 yards, 11 touchdowns and seven picks. By comparison, he completed 62.4 percent of his passes for 1,814 yards, 10 touchdowns and three picks in his seven 2012 regular-season starts.
Kaepernick has thrown for more than 200 yards once since Week 1 and is 28 of 53 for 218 yards with a terrible rating of 60.1 in the current two-game slide. San Francisco has no shot to catch Seattle in the NFC West and will have to win three road games as a wild-card team to reach the Super Bowl again. The Niners are 14-1 to win it.
On paper this definitely looks like a mismatch as the Niners are No. 4 in the NFL (17.8 ppg), while Washington is 30th (31.1).