#137 San Francisco
#138 New Orleans


In-Depth Prediction, Preview, and Odds

49ers vs. Saints Prediction

Sunday, December 8, 2019 at 1:00pm EST
Mercedes-Benz Superdome, New Orleans

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Table of Contents

Last Updated: Sunday, December 8, 2019 at 6:21am EST


A pair of NFC playoff teams take the field in the Big Easy for week 14 of the NFL schedule. The San Francisco 49ers are on the road as they travel to face the New Orleans Saints Sunday afternoon. San Francisco went to the wire but fell 20-17 on the road against Baltimore last Sunday in their previous contest. New Orleans dumped Atlanta 26-18 on the road on Thanksgiving night in their previous contest. The 49ers own a 47-26-2 advantage in the all-time regular season series with the Saints taking a 41-23 win on the road on November 6, 2016 in the most recent matchup between the teams.

San Francisco 49ers Review

San Francisco is off to a strong start and look nothing like the team that finished the 2018 season 4-12. The 49ers have as many wins after 13 weeks this season (10) than they’ve had in any season in the last five years: their best mark in that span is an 8-8 mark in 2014. San Francisco started the year with a pair of road wins as they downed Tampa Bay 31-17 followed by a 41-17 dismantling of Cincinnati. The 49ers followed that with home wins over Pittsburgh (24-20) and, after a bye, Cleveland (31-3) to set up a NFC West showdown with the Rams. San Francisco completely shut down the Los Angeles offense, winning 20-7 on the road and holding Jared Goff to 78 passing yards. That was followed by a 9-0 road win over Washington in a game played in monsoon conditions before a 51-13 demolition of Carolina at home. San Francisco edged Arizona (28-25) on the road in week 9 before suffering their lone defeat of the season (27-24) in overtime at home to Seattle. The 49ers rallied to down Arizona 36-26 and throttled Green Bay (37-8) with both games at home before traveling to face Baltimore.

In the game against Baltimore, the 49ers went down the field and scored on their opening drive but that wasn’t a harbinger of future success. San Francisco trailed 14-7 before tying the game midway through the second quarter. The 49ers trailed 17-14 at the half and tied the game in the third quarter: they were unable to put any more points on the board. San Francisco’s defense allowed Baltimore to chew up the final 6:28 of the clock, capped by a game-winning 49-yard field goal as time expired. The 49ers outgained the Ravens 331-283: they lost the first down (21-15) and time of possession (32:26 to 27:34) battles in the contest. Both teams turned the ball over once in the game: the loss, coupled with Seattle’s win on Monday night, dropped the 49ers into a wild card spot.

New Orleans Saints Review

New Orleans started the season solidly, then lost their franchise quarterback before regrouping behind Teddy Bridgewater. The Saints edged the Texans at home to open the season (30-28) on a Wil Lutz 58-yard field goal as time expired before losing on the road to the Rams (27-9): in that game, Drew Brees suffered a thumb injury that required surgery and knocked him out for the next five games. New Orleans responded with Bridgewater under center, beating Seattle (33-27) on the road, Dallas (12-10) and Tampa Bay (31-24) at home, followed by wins over Jacksonville (13-6) and Chicago (36-25) on the road. Brees returned for their week eight contest against Arizona and led the Saints to a 31-9 home victory as the team went into the bye with six straight wins. That was followed with a 26-9 trouncing by the Falcons at home coming out of the bye. New Orleans rebounded by drubbing Tampa Bay (34-17) on the road and Carolina (34-31) at home to set up their game with the Falcons.

In the game against the Falcons, third-string QB/utility guy Taysom Hill had his fingerprints all over the game. He blocked a punt in the opening quarter that set up a touchdown reception, and added a 30-yard touchdown run later in the game. New Orleans took that 7-0 lead on Hill’s first touchdown and never let Atlanta get back to even in the game. The Saints took a 26-9 lead and withstood two scoring drives by the Falcons in the final four minutes of the contest to earn the win. With the triumph coupled with other results, New Orleans clinched the NFC South title. The Saints lost the total offense battle 348-279, gave up 27 first downs while picking up 14 and lost the time of possession battle (35:35 to 24:25) in the game. New Orleans forced three turnovers in the game and blocked a punt while not turning the ball over in the win.

The Running Game

49ers Running Offense
vs. New Orleans Saints Running Defense

49ers Running Offense

San Francisco has used a power run game to move the sticks, pile up points and grind the clock on opposing defenses. The 49ers have been extremely effective with the run game, rotating backs and pounding teams into oblivion. San Francisco has run for more than 100 yards eight times this season and has two other games of at least 98 yards on the ground. The 49ers ran for a season-worst 34 yards against the Cardinals at home three weeks ago but got back on track last week. San Francisco finished with 112 yards plus two scores against the Packers in their Sunday night romp. Against the Ravens, the 49ers ran the ball 29 times for 174 yards and a score

Matt Breida leads the team with 109 carries for 542 yards plus a score this season as one of a three-headed committee for the 49ers. Raheem Mostert contributes 92 carries for 539 yards plus three scores while Tevin Coleman has 120 carries for 454 yards and six touchdowns. Jeff Wilson Jr. (27 carries, 105 yards, four TD) proved to be a solid short yardage back while Coleman was out and provides depth in the backfield. The 49ers have 10 run plays that have covered at least 20 yards this season. Breida, Coleman and Mostert each have three while Deebo Samuel (six carries, 57 yards, TD) has two and Wilson Jr. adds one. San Francisco has moved the chains 84 times via the ground so far this season.

New Orleans Saints Run Defense

New Orleans started the season slowly against the run game as they gave up more than 100 yards in each of their first three games. Since then, the Saints have clamped down, holding their opponents to 94 yards or less in seven of their last nine contests. The only times that New Orleans gave up more than 100 yards in that stretch came in week 10 against Atlanta where they gave up 34 carries for 143 yards. Carolina finished with 121 yards on 29 carries in week 12. Against the Falcons in the rematch last week, the Saints held Atlanta to 26 carries for 89 yards. After allowing seven rushing touchdowns in the first five weeks of the season, the Saints have allowed only one in the last seven games.

Demario Davis leads the team defensively with 88 tackles (68 solo) on the season. Safety Vonn Bell (76 tackles, two forced fumbles, five fumble recoveries, TD), along with A.J. Klein (54 tackles, forced fumble, fumble recovery), Marshon Lattimore (47 tackles) and Marcus Williams (49 tackles, forced fumble) are among the team’s leaders in stops this year. Cameron Jordan (44 tackles, fumble recovery) leads the team with 15.5 tackles for loss while Davis adds eight. Marcus Davenport (30 tackles, three forced fumbles) adds seven while Malcom Brown (29 tackles) has five tackles for loss on the year. As a team, the Saints have 72 tackles for loss, 10 forced fumbles and eight fumble recoveries, including one fumble return for a score, on the year.



  • 2nd in run play percentage (51.09 percent)
  • 2nd in rushing attempts per game (33.3)
  • 2nd in rushing yards per game (148)
  • 16th in yards per carry (4.4)
  • 2nd in rushing TD (16)
  • 3rd in longest rush (83 yards)


  • 3rd in percentage of run plays against (34.35 percent)
  • 3rd in run plays per game against (21.7)
  • 3rd in rushing yards allowed per game (88.6)
  • 12th in opposing yards per carry (4.1)
  • Tied for 10th in rushing TD allowed (eight)
  • 5th in longest rush allowed (32 yards)

Who has the Edge?

San Francisco has beaten teams into submission via the ground game this season. The problem for the 49ers is that they have to be able to stay ahead of the sticks in order for that to be successful. New Orleans has been pretty tough against the ground game of late, holding seven of their last nine opponents under 100 yards. The Saints have all but made the rushing score obsolete against them in the last couple of months. New Orleans is at home and they will test that 49ers offensive line. This one is pretty even when you get down to it.

Advantage: New Orleans Saints

New Orleans Saints Running Offense
vs. 49ers Running Defense

New Orleans Saints Running Offense

New Orleans had an effective 1-2 punch last season in the ground game with Mark Ingram II and Alvin Kamara. Ingram II left via free agency, signing with Baltimore in the offseason, and the Saints signed Latavius Murray to try and fill that role. New Orleans has had its ups and downs but they have run for more than 100 yards in eight of their 12 games on the year. The Saints have averaged at least four yards per carry in eight games this season. New Orleans has run for more than 100 yards in seven of their last nine games. The Saints picked up 95 yards on 18 carries against the Falcons last week.

Alvin Kamara leads the Saints with 125 carries for 587 yards plus a score on the ground this season. Latavius Murray contributes 106 carries for 464 yards and five scores while Teddy Bridgewater (22 rushes, 37 yards) and Taysom Hill (16 carries, 127 yards, TD) have seen limited attempts on the ground. As a team, the Saints have recorded 10 rushes that have covered at least 20 yards this season. Kamara has four, Murray three, Hill two and Dwayne Washington (three carries, 38 yards) has the other one. New Orleans has moved the chains 70 times via the ground this season.

49ers Run Defense

San Francisco has had their struggles stopping the opposing ground game this season despite their success. The 49ers have given up more than 100 yards on the ground in 10 of their 12 games, including the last nine straight contests. Five times in that stretch, the opposition has picked up at least five yards a carry. Arizona gashed them for 153 yards in week nine in their first meeting while Seattle racked up 147 on a Monday night. The Cardinals got to them again for 135 yards before Green Bay finished with 117 yards two weeks ago. Last week, the 49ers were gashed for 178 yards on 38 carries against the Ravens. It’s clearly something that defensive coordinator Robert Saleh is going to have to address.

Fred Warner leads the team with 92 tackles (71 solo) plus three forced fumbles so far this season. safety Jaquiski Tartt (48 tackles, forced fumble, two fumble recoveries), defensive end DeForest Buckner (52 tackles, two forced fumbles, three fumble recoveries, TD), Dre Greenlaw (53 tackles) and Jimmie Ward (48 tackles) are among the team leaders in tackles this season. Nick Bosa (36 tackles, forced fumble, two fumble recoveries) leads the team with 14.5 tackles for loss while Arik Armstead (42 tackles, two forced fumbles, fumble recovery) contributes 12.5 on the season. Buckner has 9.5 and Ronald Blair III (21 tackles, fumble recovery) adds eight on the year. The 49ers have recorded 91 tackles for loss, 18 forced fumbles and 13 fumble recoveries, with two scoop-six scores, on the year as a team.



  • 19th in run play percentage (38.42 percent)
  • 22nd in rushing attempts per game (23.9)
  • 17th in rushing yards per game (107.3)
  • 13th in yards per carry (4.5)
  • Tied for 24th in rushing TD (seven)
  • 25th in longest rush (31 yards)


  • 24th in percentage of run plays against (42.98 percent)
  • 11th in run plays per game against (25)
  • 22nd in rushing yards allowed per game (116.7)
  • 25th in opposing yards per carry (4.7)
  • Tied for 4th in rushing TD allowed (six)
  • 11th in longest rush allowed (40 yards)

Who has the Edge?

It's been a challenge for San Francisco to slow the ground game of opposing teams this season. The 49ers have been gashed on a regular basis and they've been unable to come up with stops when it matters the most. New Orleans has been up and down with the ground game this season. Having Kamara back and healthy to couple with Murray makes the Saints that much more dangerous in the run game. The Saints are going to test the 49ers' front seven. Until we see San Francisco consistently win the battle at the line of scrimmage, you have to give the Saints the edge here.

Advantage: New Orleans Saints

The Passing Game

49ers Passing Offense
vs. New Orleans Saints Passing Defense

49ers Passing Offense

San Francisco hasn’t had to rely on the passing game as much this season as the run game has done the job beating teams into submission. The 49ers have thrown for more than 300 yards just three times in a game this season. San Francisco racked up 312 yards in a blowout win against the Bengals back in week two. Their other 300-yard games came against the Cardinals as they went for 317 yards plus four scores through the air in week nine along with a season-high 424 yards and four scores against them in week 11.  Last week against the Ravens, San Francisco was limited to only 165 yards through the air.

Jimmy Garoppolo has hit 247 of 358 passes for 2,896 yards with 21 touchdown passes against 10 interceptions on the year. He has been sacked 24 times this season, losing 152 yards in the process. Dante Pettis completed his lone pass attempt for 16 yards this season. Tight end George Kittle has reeled in a team-leading 54 passes for 687 yards and three scores this season. Deebo Samuel (42 receptions, 564 yards, three TD) and Marquise Goodwin (12 grabs, 186 yards, TD) are the next most reliable options in the passing game. The 49ers acquired Emmanuel Sanders (21 catches, 250 yards, two TD in six games with the team) from Denver prior to their week 8 contest against the Panthers, adding a proven veteran receiver to the mix. San Francisco has 43 pass plays that have covered at least 20 yards this season. Samuel leads the team with 11 while Kittle is next in line with 10 such plays this season. Kendrick Bourne (24 receptions, 300 yards, three TD) has four such receptions while Goodwin, Sanders and Richie James Jr. (six grabs, 165 yards, TD) each have three.

New Orleans Saints Passing Defense

New Orleans had their struggles in the early stages of the season defensively but has helped clamp down of late. The Saints have allowed more than 300 yards through the air just three times on the year though two have come in the last three weeks. They allowed 406 yards to the Seahawks in week 2 and then 313 yards to Tampa Bay in week 11. New Orleans’ game against Tampa Bay snapped a six-game stretch where the Saints didn’t allow more than 251 yards through the air. After giving up 256 yards in week 12 to Carolina, New Orleans allowed 312 yards to Atlanta last week. The Saints did record nine sacks and two picks in that game.

Jordan leads the team with 13.5 sacks on the season. Davenport adds six while Trey Hendrickson (13 tackles, 4.5 tackles for loss, forced fumble) adds four sacks on the year. Marcus Williams leads the team with 12 pass defenses on the year while Lattimore contributes 11 and Davis adds nine. Marcus Williams (TD) has four interceptions to lead the team on the year while Lattimore, Bell, Shy Tuttle (13 tackles, sack, two tackles for loss), C.J. Gardner-Johnson (28 tackles, four tackles for loss, seven pass defenses), Davis and P.J. Williams (26 tackles, sack, tackle for loss, four pass defenses) each have one. As a team, the Saints have 40 sacks, 56 pass defenses and 10 interceptions, including a pick-six, this season.



  • 31st in pass play percentage (48.91 percent)
  • 4th in completion percentage (69.1)
  • 15th in passing yards per game (230)
  • Tied for 21st in TD passes (21)
  • Tied for 20th in INT thrown (10)
  • 5th in net yards per pass attempt (7.7)
  • Tied for 30th in longest pass play (61 yards)
  • 15th in passer rating (101.3)


  • 30th in pass play percentage against (65.65 percent)
  • 17th in net passing yards per game allowed (234.9)
  • 10th in completion percentage allowed (61.9)
  • Tied for 12th in TD passes allowed (19)
  • Tied for 11th in INT (10)
  • Tied for 12th in sacks (40)
  • 7th in passer rating allowed (84.4)
  • 5th in net yards per pass attempt (6.2)

Who has the Edge?

San Francisco hasn't been overly pressed to use the passing game thanks to the run. That might change here but it could be tough sledding. New Orleans has been able to get after the quarterback, as we saw last week. Trying to shut down Jordan is going to be a massive challenge for the 49ers offensive line. The Saints have a solid secondary and they'll do what they can to disrupt Kittle to force Garoppolo to look elsewhere. That's the game plan that the Ravens used last week and it seemed to work. There is no proven #1 receiving option on the 49ers and that gives the Saints the edge here.

Advantage: New Orleans Saints

New Orleans Saints Passing Offense
vs. 49ers Passing Defense

New Orleans Saints Passing Offense

New Orleans is still a pass-centric offense though this season has been a bit off as Drew Brees suffered a thumb injury that required surgery against the Rams in week two. He missed six weeks before returning and that forced changes in their offensive scheme. New Orleans has posted five 300-yard games this season, including three times in the five games since Brees returned to the mix. Against the Falcons in week 13, the Saints were held in check through the air as they finished with just 184 yards, their second-lowest mark of the season.

Brees has completed 177 of 240 passes for 1,791 yards with 12 touchdowns and four interceptions on the year. He's been sacked nine times for a loss of 65 yards. Teddy Bridgewater has hit 132 of 195 passes for 1,370 yards with nine touchdowns and two interceptions while getting sacked 11 times. Michael Thomas leads the Saints with 110 receptions for 1,290 yards plus six scores. Kamara (64 catches, 444 yards, TD), Ted Ginn Jr. (24 grabs, 348 yards, two TD), Murray (27 catches, 165 yards, TD) and Jared Cook (32 grabs, 459 yards, four TD) are secondary options. The Saints have 35 pass plays that have covered at least 20 yards this season. Thomas leads the team with 11 of those plays while Cook contributes nine. Ginn Jr. has reeled in six such passes and Josh Hill (19 receptions, 182 yards, TD) has four on the season.

49ers Passing Defense

San Francisco’s pass defense has gotten a fair amount of work, mainly because they’ve built up comfortable leads that have forced the opposition to the air. The 49ers have been solid against the pass, giving up just one 300 yard passing game this season. San Francisco has held their last seven opponents to 241 yards or less through the air. That includes a five-game stretch where they didn’t allow more than 174 yards passing from weeks 3 through eight (the team was off in week 4): they allowed less than 100 net passing yards in three straight games and a fourth right at the 100-yard mark. Arizona got 241 yards in the first meeting between the teams while Seattle had 232 on Monday night, though 189 net yards after the sacks were factored in. In the last three weeks, San Francisco has clamped down again: they limited the Cardinals to 150 yards in the rematch and held Green Bay to 119 yards two weeks ago. The 49ers stifled the passing game of the Ravens last week, allowing only 105 yards through the air.

Armstead leads the team with 10 sacks with Bosa on his heels with eight on the year. Dee Ford (14 tackles, 7.5 tackles for loss, two forced fumbles, pass defense) adds 6.5 sacks this season while Buckner contributes 6.5 on the year. Richard Sherman (46 tackles) leads the team with 10 pass defenses while Ward adds eight on the year. Emmanuel Moseley (33 tackles) and Warner each add six on the year. Sherman (TD) leads the team with three interceptions on the year while K’Waun Williams (38 tackles, sack, two tackles for loss, two forced fumbles, two pass defenses) has two. Kwon Alexander (34 tackles, half a sack, 3.5 tackles for loss, four pass defenses, forced fumble), Mark Nzeocha (seven tackles, pass defense), Bosa, Moseley, Greenlaw and Ahkello Witherspoon (12 tackles, tackle for loss, five pass defenses, TD) each have one interception this season. As a team, San Francisco has picked up 45 sacks, 54 pass defenses and 11 interceptions with two picks returned for scores this season.



  • 14th in pass play percentage (61.58 percent)
  • 1st in completion percentage (71.1)
  • 9th in net passing yards per game (254.1)
  • Tied for 12th in TD passes (21)
  • Tied for 5th in INT thrown (six)
  • 14th in net yards per pass attempt (6.9)
  • 32nd in longest pass play (45 yards)
  • Tied for 8th in passer rating (102)


  • 9th in pass play percentage faced (57.02 percent)
  • 1st in passing yards per game allowed (134.2)
  • 2nd in completion percentage allowed (60.1)
  • Tied for 2nd in TD passes allowed (12)
  • Tied for 2nd in INT (11)
  • 4th in sacks (45)
  • 2nd in passer rating allowed (58)
  • 1st in net yards per pass attempt (4.6)

Who has the Edge?

San Francisco has done a great job getting after the passer but the loss of Ford is going to test their ability to do so. The 49ers have done a good job making plays in the secondary but this will be a good test for them. New Orleans has thrown for more than 300 yards in three of their last five games coming into this one. Trying to shut down Thomas is going to be a key for the 49ers defense in this one. Cook has become much more relevant in the passing game over the past month after a slow start. The Saints still need to get Ginn Jr. or Tre'Quan Smith more involved in the passing game in order to be a factor in the postseason. Give the Saints a slight edge here.

Advantage: New Orleans Saints



San Francisco enters this contest 2nd in the league in scoring offense as they put up 29.1 points per game this season. The 49ers are 6th in the league in total offense with 378 yards per contest and stand 10th in yards per play with an average of 5.8 yards a snap. San Francisco is 2nd in scoring defense as they allow 15.2 points per game. On the season, the team is 1st in total defense by allowing 250.9 yards per game and 1st in yards per play allowed as they give up 4.3 yards per play on average. San Francisco is 8th in the league in giveaway/takeaway with a +6 margin this season.

The 49ers are only 25th in the league in scoring touchdowns in the red zone as they cash in 48.89 percent of their chances. Defensively, San Francisco is sharp as they are 2nd in the league in red zone defense by allowing a measly 42.31 percent of drives to reach the red zone to end in touchdowns. The 49ers are above average in third-down conversions, ranking 5th by converting 45.57 percent of their third-down situations. San Francisco’s defense is solid in those situations, ranking 2nd as they hold the opposition to a 27.66 percent success on their third downs. The 49ers are 3rd in the league in time of possession by holding the ball 54.01 percent of the time this season.

Robbie Gould has hit all 26 extra point attempts but is just 14 of 22 on field goal attempts with a long of 47 this season. Chase McLaughlin hit eight of eight extra point attempts and is seven of eight on field goals with a long of 48. Mitch Wishnowsky has averaged 44.8 yards per punt (42.2-yard net average) on 38 punts this season. He has dropped 17 punts inside the opposing 20-yard line with only two touchbacks on the year. Richie James Jr. has averaged 19.5 yards per kick return on 15 runbacks. He has averaged 8.5 yards per punt return on 30 chances this season with a long of 32.

New Orleans Saints

New Orleans averages 251.1 passing yards per game to rank ninth in the league and their 24.8 points per game also ranks ninth. They rank first in completion percentage at 71.1% and seventh in QBR at 102.0.

On the defensive end, they rank third in the league in rushing yards allowed at 88.6 and eighth in total yards per game given up at 323.5. They also rank tied for fourth in sacks with New England at 40.

Who has the Edge?

San Francisco has been very good on both sides of the ball this season but this is going to be a challenge for them. New Orleans is no slouch on either side of the ball and they can make life challenging for any team. The Saints are excellent in getting takeaways and they have a veteran QB that knows how to take care of the ball. That is something that Garoppolo still has to learn at times. New Orleans has a massive edge in the kicking game and they are capable of making plays in the return game. Sean Payton is one of the best coaches in the league and he's ahead of Kyle Shanahan. The Saints have the advantage in this category.

Advantage: New Orleans Saints

Final Outlook

San Francisco battled but couldn't make the plays late when it mattered against Baltimore. As a result, the 49ers dropped the game and went from first in the NFC to fifth. New Orleans has already locked in the NFC South crown and is playing for seeding at this point in time. The Saints have been clicking since Brees and Kamara got healthy, making them that much more dangerous. Playing at home, New Orleans is 5-1 on the year and they are looking to keep their momentum. The Saints protect the ball extremely well and they are going to test the 49ers.

According to, the Saints are 8-2 ATS in their last 10 games overall, 4-1 ATS in their last 5 games as a favorite of 0.5-3.0 and 7-2 ATS in their last 9 vs. NFC opponents. San Francisco has gone 4-11 ATS in their last 15 games after accumulating more than 150 yards rushing in their previous game. Seeing how the Ravens exposed the San Francisco defense, the Saints are going to follow a similar plan of attack and take this one at home.

Prediction: New Orleans Saints -2.5

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San Francisco has put up at least 31 points in six games this season but they had their second-lowest point total of the season last week. The 49ers have had their troubles on defense at times, allowing at least 20 points in five of their 12 games on the year. New Orleans has put up at least 30 points in seven of their 12 games on the year. The Saints have given up at least 24 points in seven of their contests. New Orleans has been better of late, holding four of their last seven opponents to 18 points or less. Will the Saints keep the 49ers in check in this one?

The under is 6-0 in the 49ers' last 6 games in Week 14, 7-1 in their last 8 games as an underdog of 0.5-3.0 and 5-1 in their last 6 games as a road underdog of 0.5-3.0. New Orleans has seen the under go 4-0 in their last four games in week 14, 8-3 in their last 11 after an ATS win and 7-3 in their last 10 after a straight up win. Given the way both teams have played defense of late, this one likely ends up as a 21-17 or 23-20 type of game that ends up just under the mark.

Prediction: Under 44.5

Written By Chris Kubala

Christopher Kubala has been crunching stats and following sports for over 30 years. His in-depth analysis and passion for sports have led him to writing books about sports, regularly being featured on sports talk radio and as the go-to person for any obscure trivia. Now he is writing for our team here at Winners @ Whiners. Chris keeps an eye on transactions and statistics like a hawk, especially when it comes to football, both the NFL and college. He is also very knowledgeable in the NHL, the NBA, college basketball and MLB. If you want consistency, then be sure and check out Chris’ content daily.