Two teams are coming off opposite results in Week 15 face-off this upcoming week. The Washington Commanders had one of the more bizarre finishes you’ll see on Sunday night. Washington had a chance to tie the game with over a minute to go, but Terry McClaurin was flagged for not being on the line of scrimmage:
Terry McLaurin looks at the ref asking if he’s good - ref points back at McLaurin as of to indicate he’s good. McLaurin then gives a thumbs up to ref to acknowledge it. This “penalty” took a Brian Robinson TD off the board. Via @SNFonNBC pic.twitter.com/B86N6nsJsS— Matthew Berry (@MatthewBerryTMR) December 19, 2022
I can’t remember the last time I’ve seen this flagged for a penalty on a running play. But it didn’t stop there for Washington, as this play was not called a defensive pass interference:
NBC rules analyst Terry McAulay says refs missed a DPI on Curtis Samuel:— Josh Hill (@jdavhill) December 19, 2022
“This is defensive pass interference … it’s always a foul and should have been called.” pic.twitter.com/8teYF6UBxd
There’s no guarantee the Commanders would've converted the two-point conversion and gone on to win, but a brutal way to lose the game either way.
So instead of Taylor Heinicke and company going from being in the driver’s seat of securing a playoff spot by recording their eighth win, they’re rewarded with a rested San Francisco 49ers team that hasn’t lost in two months and is peaking at the perfect time.
The Niners are 7-point favorites over the Commanders, with the total on the game set at 39.5 at DraftKings SportsBook. That’s a high spread with such a low total, but we’re dealing with two of the better defenses in the NFL during the past month.
Since Week 10, the 49ers are first in team DVOA, second in offensive DVOA, and first in defensive DVOA. They are nearly double the second-place Bills team in total DVOA. Washington is tenth in total DVOA, seventh on defense, and second through the air. They are also fourth in special teams DVOA.
Washington struggled to block the Giants, who have an above-average defensive line. But you wouldn’t confuse that unit with the 49ers' pass-rushing crew. Generally speaking, a high spread paired with a low total suggests we’re in for a blowout.
The Commanders have a receiver core that can challenge the Niners' secondary, but the same could be said if you flip the argument. I’ll take Kyle Shanahan against Jack Del Rio seven days a week and twice on Sunday.