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San Francisco 49ers
Alex Smith was coming off a breakthrough year at quarterback heading into last season, but it was another QB who emerged and led the San Francisco 49ers to an appearance in Super Bowl XLVII. The 49ers got off to a very solid 6-2 start last season, going 5-3 against the spread. In Week 11, the 49ers hosted the Chicago Bears on Monday Night Football, and a star was born. Smith was out with a concussion, so second-year QB Colin Kaepernick started, and he was so impressive that he would never look back and end up as the team's starter for the rest of the year. Kaepernick led the 49ers to a 5-2 record to close out the season (4-3 ATS), capturing the NFC West title and No. 2 seed in the playoffs. In the first playoff game, San Francisco hosted Green Bay and shredded the Packers defense, defeating them 45-31. The 49ers then beat the top-seeded Atlanta Falcons 28-24 on the road in the NFC Championship Game to advance to the Super Bowl, where they fell just short against the Baltimore Ravens in a tough 34-31 loss.
Kaepernick was lights out in the seven games he started for the Niners, throwing for 1,814 yards, 10 TDs and three INTs to go along with 415 rush yards and five more TDs on the ground. Wide receiver Michael Crabtree emerged as the team's leader in receptions (85), receiving yards (1,105) and TDs (9), but Pro Bowl tight end Vernon Davis had a disappointing season with 41 receptions for 548 yards and five TDs. Davis did not really click with Kaepernick until the postseason, when he became a dangerous weapon again. Running back Frank Gore led San Francisco's fourth-ranked rushing attack (155.7 yards per game) with 1,214 and nine total TDs, and the defense saw second-year linebacker Aldon Smith tally a career-high 19.5 sacks.
Head coach Jim Harbaugh's rapid development of Kaepernick has 49ers fans excited for another Super Bowl run this year, and many NFL betting experts think they got even better this offseason. On defense, San Francisco lost defensive tackles Isaac Sopoaga and Rickey Jean Francois as well as top-tier safety Dashon Goldson to free agency. On offense, the Niners shipped Smith to the Kansas City Chiefs for draft picks, but they were also dealt a big blow with Crabtree tearing his Achilles in offseason workouts. Some major acquisitions that should help include the addition of veteran WR Anquan Boldin, who should step in for Crabtree as the top target in the passing game, along with defensive lineman Glenn Dorsey, cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha and first-round pick Eric Reid, a safety out of LSU that will likely be starting.
The oddsmakers at 5Dimes have the 49ers at O/U 11.5 wins for this season. Despite playing in a very competitive NFC West, San Francisco is one of the favorites to get back to the Super Bowl and should win 12-13 games.
Recommended Play: OVER 11.5
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