The NFL Christmas games come to an end when the San Francisco 49ers face the Baltimore Ravens. The schedule makers could not have hit a bigger bullseye for the game on Christmas. Both teams are No. 1 in their respective conferences and winning can boost their odds of acquisition of that precious No. 1 seed. This will be an evening game on Monday Night Football. Joe Buck has the play-by-play and Troy Aikman has commentary.
The 49ers are widely regarded as the best team in the league with one caveat: they need to be healthy. Fortunately, they are getting pieces back at just the right time. Regardless of recent injuries, their high-powered offense has been rolling, even though the NFL has become one of the toughest defensive climates recently. They have managed to light up other respectable defenses ( the Dallas Cowboys come to mind) but the Baltimore Ravens will be a big test to see how potent this offense really is. It all goes through quarterback Brock Purdy who has had stats in his second season veterans would die for. Purdy has a firm claim on the MVP race this year and if he can continue the high-play on Monday night, he’ll be further separated from his peers.
If the 49ers can win against the Ravens, then it seems likely one additional win at either Washington Commanders next week or Los Angeles Rams the week after will lock up the first seed.
On the other side of the ball is another MVP candidate in Lamar Jackson. The Baltimore Ravens have one of the most efficient rushing attacks in the league and a lot of the credit to that goes to their quarterback. Jackson has 741 rushing yards on the year, averaging 5.5 yards per carry. Jackson’s arm also has been deadly; getting 3,105 yards with 17 touchdowns and 7 interceptions. Pick your poison with Jackson. The Ravens lost speedster Keaton Mitchell to injury, adding onto the earlier injury to tight end Mark Andrews in November. The offense will be going through Jackson and he’ll have a lot of slack to pickup against a 49ers defense that clamps down after the first quarter.
Despite some healthy pieces returning, the 49ers defense still has some injury issues. Defensive lineman Arik Armstead (foot) will be out again which is a huge blow to the run defense. Defensive tackle Javon Hargrave (hamstring) and running back Elijah Mitchell (knee) both missed Thursday’s practice, but were limited Friday and Saturday. Their status is questionable. Additionally, Jauan Jennings (concussion protocol), Oren Burks (knee), and Ross Dwelley (ankle) are also out.
For Baltimore, wide receiver Zay Flowers is questionable. Cornerbacks Arthur Maulet and Jalyn Armour-Davis are both ruled out.
The 49ers opened up as 5-point favorites on DraftKings Sportsbook. That number has increased to 6 as of this writing. Typically that can swing depending on injuries, but may mean some money is coming in for the 49ers despite the points.
Date: Monday, December 25th, 2023
Kickoff: 5:15 PM PST, 8:15 PM EST
Location: Levi’s Stadium, Santa Clara CA
Play-by-Play: Joe Buck
Color Analyst: Troy Aikman