49ers 2020 NFL schedule: Too-soon win/loss predictions
Week 1: Sept. 13 vs. Cardinals, 4:25/1:25 PM
The 49ers will open up the season at home against a much-improved Cardinals team.
Arizona acquired wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins and a fourth-round 2020 NFL pick from the Houston Texans in exchange for running back David Johnson, a 2020 second-round pick and a 2021 fourth-round pick.
The Cardinals also had a solid draft, which including bolstering their offensive line for second-year quarterback Kyler Murray in the form of Houston offensive tackle Josh Jones in the third round. And they selected do-everything defensive player Isaiah Simmons from Clemson in Round 1.
This doesn’t necessarily mean the Cardinals will be a threat in the NFC West, but they did push the 49ers to the brink in both 2019 matchups. So it does stand to reason that they should continue to be a pesky opponent for the Niners in 2020.
That said, I expect the 49ers to be ready to show they are still a top team in the NFC and take it to their division opponent to kick off the 2020 season.
Record: W, 1-0
Week 2: Sept. 20 at Jets, 1:00 PM/10:00 AM
After starting the season off with a division matchup, the 49ers will then face four straight non-division opponents, beginning with a Week 2 trip to MetLife to face the New York Jets
As noted earlier, the Niners will play both Weeks 2 and 3 games at MetLife, so look for the team to spend the week between facing the Jets in Week 2 and the Giants in Week 3 somewhere on the East Coast.
The Jets finished with one of the worst records in the NFL last year, partially because quarterback Sam Darnold missed three games with mono, and also because they just weren’t a very good football team.
Adam Gase’s team finished second-to-last in offensive DVOA, according to Football Outsiders (minus-24.8 percent), although it did end the year in 10th place in defensive DVOA (minus-5.8 percent). But that defensive output wasn’t enough to get the Jets over .500, closing out the season with a 7-9 record.
New York will have to improve on offense to try to compete in a suddenly wide-open AFC East, but this early in the season it doesn’t seem likely they’ll put up much of a fight against the defending NFC champs.
Record: W, 2-0
Week 3: Sept. 27 at Giants, 1:00 PM/10:00 AM
The second MetLife Stadium game of the season for the 49ers comes immediately after the first, this time against the Giants, who finished the 2019 season with a 4-12 record.
New York is now Daniel Jones‘ town, as longtime quarterback Eli Manning retired during the offseason after losing his job to Jones last season.
The Giants were 27th in defensive DVOA in 2019 (plus-10.4 percent) and 23rd in offensive DVOA (minus-7.3 percent), but after starting 2-2, they went on to lose their next nine games before closing out the season winning two out of their last three.
Whether the Giants improve in 2020 rests squarely on the shoulders of Jones and his development during his second year as a starter. The former Duke starter finished 31st out of 34 qualifying quarterbacks (200-plus passes) in FO’s Defensive Adjusted Yards Above Replacement (DYAR) statistic with a minus-256.
At this point in the season, it seems likely the Giants won’t match up well with the 49ers, who should continue their perfect start to the 2020 season before finally flying back west.
Record: W, 3-0
Week 4: Oct. 4 vs. Eagles (Sunday Night Football), 8:20/5:20 PM
The first of the 49ers’ five prime-time games takes place on their return Levi’s Stadium in Week 4, as they welcome the Philadelphia Eagles to town for Sunday Night Football.
The Eagles won the NFC East last season by the skin of their teeth, eeking out a 9-7 record and a playoff spot over the Dallas Cowboys during the season’s final weeks.
Quarterback Carson Wentz played in all 16 games for the first time since his rookie season, finishing the year with 4,039 yards and 27 touchdowns while completing 63.9 percent of his passes. But the team was middle of the league overall in DVOA on both offense (14th, plus-2.6 percent) and defense (12th, minus-4.0 percent).
Philadelphia did improve upon its worst group from 2019, the wide receivers, by adding TCU wideout Jalen Reagor in the first round, Boise State receiver John Hightower in the fifth round, Southern Mississippi pass-catcher Quez Watkins in the sixth round and trading for former 49ers speedster Marquise Goodwin on day three of the draft.
If Wentz is healthy and the receivers can step up and provide him with some weapons, the Eagles should be among the best teams in the NFC.
This should be a good matchup, but I fully expect the 49ers to be ready to take on the Eagles on Sunday Night Football and secure another victory.
Record: W, 4-0