SF 49ers’ Weeks 9-13
Week 9 vs. Green Bay Packers (Thursday Night Football)
If there’s a hotter team two weeks into the NFL season than the Green Bay Packers, I don’t know which one it is.
Whether it’s quarterback Aaron Rodgers feeling slighted by the Packers’ drafting Jordan Love in the first round when he needed help at wide receiver or a healthy offense in year two of Matt LaFleur’s offense (or both), the Green Bay offense is firing hot so far in 2020.
They lead the NFL with 505 yards per game while scoring 42.5 points, also tops in the league. Interestingly, they also lead the league in rushing yards at 208.5 per game, led by running back Aaron Jones who has run 34 times for 234 yards, a whopping 6.9 yards per carry.
The Packers are also PFF’s top overall team (82.8), offense (87.6), and passing offense (94.8), but are near the bottom of the NFL in defense (57.5, 21st).
The defensive stats in other areas hold up the grading, as the Packers have given up 27.5 points per game while allowing 363 yards, including over 110 yards per game on the ground, something that plagued them last season, especially in the NFC Championship game.
So they, like the Seahawks, are winning, at least so far, by massively outscoring their opponents, meaning the SF 49ers could have another shootout on their hands when the Packers come to town.
It being on Thursday Night Football is an odd choice given the massive scope of the matchup, since both teams will be coming off short weeks and the Niners will be returning home after two straight weeks on the road.
Factors like healthy and where the season is going will come into play here and the 49ers will need to find a way to create pressure on Rodgers without Nick Bosa, since that was a huge part of the Niners’ ability to frustrate the Packers’ quarterback during their two meetings in 2019.
The odds may be stacked against the Niners heading into this game and it will require a great individual effort from someone, maybe Jimmy Garoppolo, maybe Raheem Mostert, or a member of the defense, to knock Green Bay off for the third time in two seasons.
Week 10 @ New Orleans Saints
Another year, another trip to the Superdome to take on the New Orleans Saints.
But this time, it’s possible that Saints quarterback Drew Brees might finally be showing signs of slowing down.
The two teams played an instant classic last season that ended with an incredible individual effort from George Kittle.
The Saints are 1-1 after allowing the Las Vegas Raiders to win the opener at their new stadium on Monday Night Football 34-24. Yes, Michael Thomas is out and the rest of the Saints’ pass catchers outside of running back Alvin Kamara and former Niners’ wideout Emmanuel Sanders are suspect, but Brees’ doesn’t seem to be aging gracefully.
What’s worse, at least for Saints’ fans, is their defense isn’t doing them any favors. So while the offense is doing okay (29 ppg, 347 YPG), the defense is matching what the other side of the ball is doing (28.5 ppg, 361.5 YPG), a formula that won’t win you many games in the NFL.
Thomas could come back and help Brees get back to his normal self, for sure, but if the injury turns out to be a long term one, the Saints may find themselves in trouble.
In any respect, the defense the SF 49ers will trot out against them should be good enough to keep the Niners in the game, ultimately leading to a second straight win in New Orleans.
Week 11: BYE
Still undefeated against the bye week.
Week 12 @ Los Angeles Rams
As noted before, the Rams are off to a hot start, but Nov. 29 is a long way away and much could change before then.
But because these predictions are based on what we know about the teams and their performances so far in 2020, you should expect the Rams to get the victory at home in their fancy new stadium.
That said, if there’s a team in the NFC West the 49ers could sweep, the Rams would be the candidate.
Week 13 vs. Buffalo Bills
The Buffalo Bills were a trendy pick to unseat the Patriots in the AFC East this season. And while they’ve played well to start the season, they are still a mostly unproven group.
One thing is certain: the defense is pretty good and through two weeks has graded out as the fourth-best unit in the league per PFF (67.5), one spot below the SF 49ers.
The problem so far is that they’ve given up points, and lots of them, late in games. The 22.5 average is just 22nd in the league.
But ultimately the team will only go as far as their quarterback Josh Allen will take them. He’s played quite well so far in 2020 (70.4 percent completions, 729 yards, six touchdowns, and no picks), but they’ve played two bad division opponents (Jets and Dolphins) and have only won by a combined 13 points.
Some of that is on the defense for maybe letting down a bit late in games, but the offense will also need to find a way to convert their yardage into points if the defense is going to struggle like this as the season progresses.
With the Bills traveling across the country for this one and the Niners coming off a recent bye and a short trip to L.A., look for the home team to do just enough to get the victory heading into the final stretch of the season.