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‘Monday Night Football’ picks and open thread: Vikings host 49ers!

Can the 49ers recover on the road after an embarrassing loss?

San Francisco 49ers v Minnesota Vikings Photo by Michael Zagaris/San Francisco 49ers/Getty Images

The NFC West will wrap things up on Monday Night football with the San Francisco 49ers taking a road trip to face the Minnesota Vikings. San Francisco is hardly in panic mode after last week’s bludgeoning at the hands of the Cleveland Browns, but they need to get back on track after their first performance of the season where they failed to top 30 points. So can they recover this week against a Vikings team that has looked mostly awful this season? Let’s take a look!

San Francisco 49ers @ Minnesota Vikings — 5:15pm — ESPN/ABC — O/U 43.5

The 49ers were bludgeoned, you say? In a two-point loss? Yes, they were. The Browns ran for 160 total yards and a touchdown last weekend. This is the worst total that San Fran has surrendered in more than two years, according to StatHead. In fact, over their past 30 games, they have allowed a team to rush for 100 or more yards only seven times. No, spamming the run is not the key to winning on a weekly basis in the NFL, and it surely isn’t the simply solution to beating a defense as talented as San Francisco; but in these games, the Niners are 3-4, and it hasn’t been due to opposing QBs lighting up the field. They aren’t invulnerable, they are just a well-coached and talented football team. The funny part is, none of this should matter tonight.

The Vikings were deceptively bad in 2022; they rode a 13-4 record into the playoffs before promptly dropping their Wild Card matchup with the New York Giants. The 49ers are favored to win by seven over the Vikings, according to DraftKings Sportbook, and I am barely even hesitating on that one. The Vikings don’t have a high-powered running game, and their offense is without Justin Jefferson. Will they be able to find the endzone tonight? Maybe, but don’t count on it happening very frequently.

The only thing that gives me pause is the O/U; if Christian McCaffrey plays, then I say expect San Fran to get back to their high-scoring ways. If he sits or is severely hampered by injury, expect the team to play a bit more ball control offense than we are used to given the absence of Deebo Samuel. Even if CMC is a full-go, the team may elect not to overload him if they build a sizeable lead.

The pick: Under 43.5 points, 49ers win straight up and cover