I hope the 49er players are doing a better job of getting up for Sunday’s game against the Redskins than I am. I can’t help feeling this game is in the bag. It’s not a feeling I have any familiarity with in this century, so it makes me a little nervous.
Is the team really so good that victories can be assumed? The 49ers probably rely less on one or two individual star players than any other good team in the league, so it’s more difficult to image a scenario where the team could have an off day.
The great equalizer is the 49er defense. It’s the best defense in the NFC. It leads the entire league in fewest points allowed and Washington is coming off a game against Buffalo where they were shut out. Lousy offense versus great defense equals nothing much happening in the home team column on the scoreboard. It won’t take much production from the 49er offense to win this game.
A win Sunday would put the Niners at 7-1 halfway through the 2011 season. It’s not a record achieved by playing in the weak NFC West, either. The team would be 2-0 against the AFC North, 1-0 against the NFC South, 2-1 against the NFC East, and 1-0 against the NFC North. These are the strongest divisions in the NFL. Four of the wins would be achieved in eastern time zone games, a notoriously difficult task for teams located on the west coast.
In most years, any team with 4 games against the NFC West would be an instant playoff contender. The NFC South enjoyed this position last year and had three 10+ win teams. The worst team in that division won only two games last year and both of those wins were against the NFC West. Teams in the NFC East and AFC North were awarded this feast in 2011, but the 49ers are upsetting the dinner cart, so to speak,
The 49ers are currently the number two ranked team in the NFL, but the idea that they are a powerhouse is still in its infancy. Any loss now, especially to a team like Washington, would drop them down the rankings precipitously. If they beat the Giants at home and Baltimore on the road this month, the team would most definitely get the “temporary” removed from its perception as the real deal.
The 49ers finished October with a perfect 4-0 record. They are also on a five game winning streak. We can expect those achievements to continue this weekend in the first game of November. The following week, the Giants come to town and the atmosphere for that game should be supercharged. Both teams expect to make the playoffs and might very well face each other again in the playoffs. It feels like it could be the ’80’s all over again.