Updated: Oct 23, 2021
When It Rains, It Pours....
We have a doomsday scenario in the San Francisco Bay region this weekend. We are expecting EXTREME impacts for our Sunday night matchup when the San Francisco 49ers host the Indianapolis Colts at Levi's Stadium. There could be torrential rains and high sustained winds for a majority, if not for the entire duration of this game. Find our player impacts, game predictions, and weather forecast below. Also be sure to join our live stream on our twitch account this Saturday and Sunday morning! (make sure to follow us to get the alert!)
One thing has been clear - models have consistently been escalating the magnitude of this weather event. A deep area of low pressure will make landfall late Saturday night into Sunday over the norther half of California. The main storyline with this event is the intensity and duration of rain as north and central California are forecasted to get pummeled, with some areas projected to receive over 6 inches of rain over the next couple days. The impacted region includes the San Francisco Bay area where the 49ers call home. We expect rain to filter into the area late Saturday night, and intensify Sunday morning into Sunday afternoon. The rain is forecasted to persist into Sunday night for the 8 PM ET kickoff of our Sunday night matchup. For the time leading up to the game, until just after the game ends, we expect rain totals to possibly exceed 0.5 inches. To put this into context, over the last 20 + years, this would be in the top 1% in terms of accumulation for all all games that had rain-related impacts. To make matters worse, rain won’t be the only factor impacting game play. We are forecasting wind values to exceed 20-25+ mph sustained with 30-35 mph gusts possible. In summary, this is shaping up to be the mud-bowl of all mud-bowls.
The player implications could be significant across the board. Overall, we expect point totals to be considerably reduced as we expect offenses to struggle to sustain drives and move the ball downfield. In games with conditions remotely close to those we are forecasting in San Francisco, the median and mean total points hover around 40 and 30 points respectively (see image below). We anticipate the ground game will be king in this one, so expect both teams to take considerable time off the clock, potentially limiting the number of offensive series for both teams.
Before getting into player specifics in the passing game, it is worth mentioning that the 49ers and Colts rank in the bottom third in terms of attempted passes per game. Both teams only pass the ball 33 times per game on average which translates to about 57% of the plays for Indianapolis, and 54% of the plays for the 49ers.
The most intriguing player analyzed for this matchup was Jimmy Garoppolo. In the 3 games Garoppolo has played in rain, his total passing yards per game drops from 179 yards to 107 yards per game on average. This is almost a 50% drop in passing yards in weather-related games. Also worth noting, in these 3 games he only threw for ONE touchdown. Additionally, his fantasy output drops by almost 60% in these games. The Colts are ranked 20th in terms of passing yards given up (256 yards per game), but with Kittle out and the rain falling, we would be hard pressed to project Garoppolo to hit the 200 yard mark.
On the Colts side, Carson Wentz does not seem to be as impacted due to rain - he still averages 263 yards passing with 18 TDs and 8 INTs in 9 games played with precipitation. With this being said, San Fran ranks 8th in passing yards per game at 216 YPG. However, in their last 3 matchups, they posted an even stronger performance - allowing an average of 197 yards per game to opposing QBs. With the 49ers at home in the pouring rain, we are not betting on Wentz being able to move the ball at will against this top-5 passing defense of late.
We are staying away from passing options on both sides of the ball if possible in this one. With the wind and rain, a significant % of the passes will be closer to the line of scrimmage, significantly limiting big plays and big gain potential. On average, receivers see at least a 20% dip in almost all offensive receiving categories (see below) during wind and rain events. These reductions could be further accentuated in this matchup due to the intensity and duration of this rain event. The only exception to this rule is Deebo Samuel, who is consistently getting 10+ targets a game and is dominating the market share of passes from Jimmy G. With Kittle out, and Aiyuk not not performing, we do expect Samuel to get the needed volume to give him a chance for a solid floor. You could also make this argument for Michael Pittman, but going against a tough 49ers passing D, and Pittman being inconsistent of late, we would recommend finding other options.
We feel a more significant percentage of the offensive snaps will run through Eli Mitchell and Jonathan Taylor (pun intended). San Francisco and Indianapolis defensively rank 18th and 14th respectively in yards given up on the ground. Conversely, San Fran and the Colts are back-to-back in rushing yards per game at 122 and 124 respectively. It also helps that the 49ers rank 9th in rushing attempts at 29 and Colts rank 14th at 26.5 attempts per game on average.
Don’t be surprised if the game plan for both teams is a smash mouth approach of ground-and-pound. Although it may be tough to sustain drives, we expect the teams to run down the clocks, and rush as much as they can. As a result, expect high floors for both J. Taylor and E.Mitchell.
Kickers don’t like weather, it messes with their mojo. We expect more pooch-punts inside the 50, with less attempted FG - especially from longer distances. To make matters worse, both the Colts and 49ers have back-ups kickers in, with both Slye (49ers) and Bagley (Colts) getting the start. If IND or SF do attempt a field goal longer than 40 yards, the success rate drops 20% on average in these conditions.
Buckle up folks - this one could be a wild ride.