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49ers-Patriots prediction roundup

Posted by Eric Wilbur, Boston.com Staff  December 14, 2012 12:52 PM

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If you’re playing Mega Millions next week, might we suggest the following numbers?

31-24-19-16-14.

Those are the scores the once-maligned Patriots defense has allowed to its last five opponents: Buffalo, Indianapolis, the New York Jets, Miami, and Houston, respectively.

The Mega Ball Number will come from Sunday’s 49ers tilt at Gillette Stadium. My lucky number is seven, but I’m also a realist.

This week’s picks

Vic Tafur, San Francisco Chronicle: 49ers. “I am not a hard guy to read. I like steak. I like beer. I like vigilante movies. And I like great defenses getting more than a field goal anywhere.”

Globe staff: Three out of five pick the 49ers (Patriots by 5 1/2).

Sam Farmer, Tribune Newspapers: Patriots 24, 49ers 21. “Niners look as complete as any of league's elite teams, but it's hard to bet against Tom Brady at home in December.”

Peter King, Sports Illustrated: Patriots 23, 49ers 20. “The 49ers are one of the only teams right now that can give the Patriots a good game. Justin Smith has to have his impact game of the year, and get to Tom Brady earlier than J.J. Watt did Monday night. The key to beating Brady is to make him throw before he wants to -- and that entails covering intermediate receivers much, much better than the Texans did last week. I like the Niners to be more competitive, but in this one, I think the New England running game keeps San Francisco honest enough so Brady won't be under attack so much.”

ESPN.com staff: 10 out of 11 pick the Patriots.

Vinnie Iyer, The Sporting News: 49ers 33, Patriots 30. “Forget the strategy of trying to run often with Frank Gore to play keep-away from Brady. The 49ers need to come out firing with Colin Kaepernick, as his big-play ability as a passer and runner is why they picked him to start over Alex Smith. Former Patriot Randy Moss and Super Bowl hero Mario Manningham will stretch the field. The Niners’ tight ends also are tough covers for New England. Expect rookie running back LaMichael James to get some snaps to cause matchup issues. Brady is the closest thing we have in the NFL to his idol, 49ers legend Joe Montana, but the current Niners makeup makes the difference here.”

Pete Prisco, CBS Sports.com: Patriots 27, 49ers 17. “This is the classic game matching the best offenses vs. the best defense. They say defense always wins. Not here. Tom Brady will make plays down the field against the 49ers. Can Colin Kaepernick keep up? Not likely. Patriots stake their claim as the NFL's best.”

CBS Sports.com staff: Seven out of eight pick the Patriots.

Mike Florio, ProFootballTalk.com: Patriots 34, 49ers 24. “Another prime-time home game against a playoff-caliber team, another big win for a Patriots team that is poised to make another assault on a championship.”

Michael David Smith, ProFootballTalk.com: Patriots 31, 49ers 17. “In a potential Super Bowl preview on Sunday night, I think the Patriots will show they’re playing at another level from the rest of the league. Tom Brady will have a big game against a good 49ers defense, and Bill Belichick will have something up his sleeve for 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick.”

USA Today staff: Seven out of eight pick the Patriots, two as the “Lock of the Week.”

Yahoo! sports staff: Two out of three pick the Pats.

Peter Schrager, Foxsports.com: Patriots 27, 49ers 17. “The Patriots are sizzling. What they did to Houston on Monday night was all I needed to see. This is the best team in the AFC, and I may go as far as suggesting they’re better than the 2007 team. Hell, they’re four points away from potentially being undefeated right now. San Francisco will bring a little more to the table than Houston did in Week 14, but I’m not picking against Tom Brady and Bill Belichick on a Sunday night in New England after Week 4. Ever.”

It says here: Patriots 28, 49ers 24. Of course, 41-14 isn’t out of the question either.

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About the Author

Eric Wilbur is a Boston.com sports columnist who is still in awe of what Dana Kiecker pulled off that one time in Toronto. He lives in the Boston area with his wife and three children. Comments and suggestions for the best Buffalo wing spots are encouraged.

Contact Eric Wilbur by e-mail or follow him on Twitter.

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