2012 NFL Week 15 Preview: San Francisco 49ers vs. New England Patriots

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This week’s prime time game is being hailed as a possible Super Bowl preview. It’s a battle of conflicting ideologies, and arguably the best teams in their respective conferences. The Niners are the league’s most physical squad by a country mile. They run the ball well, they are rough in the trenches, and that defense of theirs never passes up a chance to get a lick in. The Patriots, well, they throw the ball, and they throw it well. Very well. Something’s gotta give.

This is as good an opportunity as any for San Francisco’s young rookie quarterback to put up some big numbers. New England has the league’s 28th ranked defense and has serious issues with defending the deep throws. The exact kind of passing plays that Colin Kaepernick was brought in to help the Niners add to their offensive repertoire. Mario Manningham should be back for this game, and that should be a boost to the Niners offense too. That and LaMichael James’ emergence as the 49ers best backup option following the suspension of Brandon Jacobs and Kendall Hunter being put on IR. Aside from his 50 yard run against the Dolphins last week, Kaepernick looked a whole lot like Alex Smith, so he really needs to make a statement in prime time.

For the Niners to win this game, they are going to need a huge day from their defense. The 49ers defense is well suited for this matchup, as the majority of their defensive players are 3 down players and should have no problem with the no huddle. Navorro Bowman and Patrick Willis will have to have outstanding games today for the 49ers, especially if Gronkowski plays. Rumour has it he’s a game time decision, and that could present considerable difficulties in the matchup game. Whitner and Goldson will have their hands full in the secondary regardless of Gronk’s health.

This one could go either way, but I think the Patriots have the edge. They are too good in December, too good on offense, and I’ve heard this Tom Brady guy is pretty good too. By no stretch of the imagination would I be surprised if the Niners won this one, but my pick is the Patriots 38-27.