With the first quarter of the 2013 season now history for the San Francisco 49ers, the team is still alive in the NFC West with a 2-2 record. Through the first-four games, the 49ers are in second-place and tied with the Arizona Cardinals. Over the next four games, San Francisco has a great opportunity to open up their first winning streak of the season.
This weekend, the Niners host the Houston Texans on Sunday Night Football. The Texans are coming off a 23-20 loss to the Seattle Seahawks at home, after they were leading 20-3. I am sure any of the Niner fans who watched the game yesterday were in disbelief that the Texans lost their dominating lead at home. And if you watched the Texans lose on Sunday, you saw how vulnerable they are on offense despite the lethal weapons they possess.
Quarterback Matt Schaub threw a pick-6 for the third straight game and the offense was nonexistent in the second-half. Schaub threw the pick-6 to Richard Sherman who returned it for 58-yard touchdown, which tied the score at 20 with 2:40 left in regulation. The Niners defense should be able to force Schaub into similar mistakes this weekend.
The Texans are reeling to say the least. They could be without linebacker Brian Cushing against the 49ers, who left Sunday’s game because of a concussion. In order for Cushing to play, he will need to pass a series of post-concussion tests. Throw in the fact that Houston is facing a short-week ahead and the Niners have nine days to prepare for them, gives San Francisco big advantages in achieving their first winning streak of the 2013 season.
In Week 6, the 49ers play host to division rivals the Cardinals. Sure, Arizona currently has the same record as the Niners, but they are two different teams. Even with Carson Palmer at quarterback, Arizona’s offense is still struggling as they rank 19th in the league in passing yards. And they have scored only 20 points in the last two games. With star receiver Larry Fitzgerald hampered by a nagging hamstring injury and the offense trying to find a reliable running back, the 49ers should be able to extend their winning streak to three games after Week 6.
On October 20, the 49ers play on the road against the Tennessee Titans. The Titans will be put up a good fight at home, but their offense could be without quarterback Jake Locker, who sustained a hip injury that could keep him out indefinitely. Various reports are saying Locker could be out 4-8 weeks.
Ryan Fitzpatrick is Tennessee’s backup at quarterback. While Fitzpatrick is a veteran who can win games, he does not exactly strike fear in opposing defenses. In fact, he can be turnover machine if the Niners defense sustains pressure all game. Four-game winning streak here we come!
Okay, regardless how things go down for the Niners from Weeks 5-7, traveling to London to play the Jacksonville Jaguars is a guaranteed win. The Niners should never take an opposing team lightly. But San Francisco will be heavily, heavily favored against the Jaguars, who will likely remain as the league’s worst team come Week 8.
Looking at the 49ers’ favorable matchups coming up in October, they will likely head into their bye week on a five-game winning streak and with a record of 6-2. Whether or not that is enough to catch the first-place Seahawks in the NFC West, we will just have to wait and see.