49ers schedule 2022: Predicting wins and losses for 2nd half of season
49ers schedule: Weeks 16-18
Week 16 vs. Commanders: Saturday, Dec. 24 at 4:05 p.m. ET
The final stretch of the 2022 season should see the 49ers in control of their own destiny, especially after sweeping all five of their division games thus far.
Two of the final three are at home, starting with the first-ever trip to Santa Clara for the newly minted Washington Commanders.
It’s anybody’s guess who will be the Washington quarterback by Week 16. Carson Wentz started the first six games, but the Commanders won just two games with him at the helm. The former Eagles and Colts signal-caller went on injured reserve on Oct. 22 after fracturing his right ring finger.
In his place has stepped Taylor Heinicke, who played for Washington head coach Ron Rivera in Carolina. The former Old Dominion quarterback is not as physically talented as Wentz, but the Commanders have responded by winning two out of his three starts and just narrowly missed winning a third in Week 9 against the Vikings.
Either way, this Washington team is anywhere from mediocre to bad across the board on offense, even with top wideout Terry McLaurin having a solid season, and defense, in spite of defensive standouts like defensive tackles Jonathan Allen and Daron Payne trying to make up for the missing Chase Young.
This one would be a disappointment if it isn’t a victory for the 49ers.
Week 17 @ Raiders: Sunday, Jan. 1 at 4:05 p.m. ET
It isn’t clear if the Raiders are any good.
Their 2-6 record suggests they are not, although all of their losses, save for a beating at the hands of the Saints in Week 8, have been close. So maybe they’re unlucky?
They’re certainly, and here comes that word again, weird. And unbalanced.
The offense is middle of the pack, but the Raiders run the ball at a 5.1 yard-per-attempt clip, led mostly by the emergence of running back Josh Jacobs, whose average sits at 5.4 yards per carry, but is somehow averaging under 100 yards per game.
And quarterback Derek Carr has been decent, completing 62.3 percent of his passes for 1,880 yards and 11 touchdowns against four interceptions.
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But it’s notable that newly acquired wide receiver Davante Adams has been just OK in his first year with the Raiders. The former Packer has 48 catches on 85 targets, which is only a 56.5 catch percentage for 658 yards and seven of Carr’s touchdowns. That catch percentage would be his lowest since 2015.
And the defense has struggled both at giving up yards (2,970 which is 28th in the NFL) and points (201, 27th in the NFL), which explains the record.
If you can’t get stops, you’re unlikely to win a lot of games in the NFL.
Don’t expect this one, the 49ers’ final road game of the regular season, to be any different for Vegas.
Week 18 vs. Cardinals: Sunday, Jan. 8 TBD
So much of the outcome of this game depends on whether it matters to anyone or not.
For the Cardinals, it probably won’t mean anything outside of playing spoiler for their division foes. But for the Niners, depending on what happens with the Seahawks and (possibly) the Rams in the latter part of the year, it could mean a great deal.
Or it could mean nothing. The 49ers (or one of those other teams) may have already wrapped up the division and a win may not make a difference in terms of playoff seeding.
Maybe this game features an interim head coach for the Cardinals. Or Brock Purdy throwing to Danny Gray, Tyler Kroft, and Willie Snead IV while handing it off to Ty Davis-Price in a meaningless game.
This far in advance, everything is on the table.
All things being equal, the 49ers probably win this game, whenever it happens to be played at Levi’s Stadium on Jan. 8. But don’t be too surprised if they lose a stinker of a meaningless game to end the year out and head into the playoffs with fully rested starters.
This 49ers team is certainly among the best in the NFL and should be among the favorites to carry the NFC’s mantle into the Super Bowl. But the key is getting off to a good start to the second half and doing what we didn’t: taking it one game at a time.