The SF 49ers desperately need a win to keep pace in the NFC West, and here are five reasons why it happens versus the LA Rams on Sunday.
No matter what the perspective, it makes sense why the SF 49ers are listed as three-point underdogs to the 4-1 Los Angeles Rams, who make their 2020 return to Levi’s Stadium in an attempt to avenge head coach Kyle Shanahan’s squad eliminating them from playoff contention last December.
In many ways, what happened to the Rams last season isn’t unlike what Shanahan and Co. are going through right now. A season after losing the Super Bowl, the 2019 Rams went through their own lackluster season.
So far through five weeks, the 2-3 Niners look nothing like the NFC juggernaut that tore through teams en route to its own Super Bowl appearance last February.
Injuries have played a major factor for the SF 49ers, yes. And those alone would provide ample reason to suggest San Francisco falls to 2-4 after a presumed drubbing by L.A. on Sunday Night Football.
But to take the optimistic perspective, let’s instead look at five reasons why the Niners pull off a win over their NFC West rivals this upcoming Sunday night.
No. 5: Jimmy Garoppolo usually bounces back after a loss
OK, so what happened to quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo in Week 5’s 43-17 drubbing at the hands of the Miami Dolphins on the tail of San Francisco’s Week 4 home loss to the Philadelphia Eagles doesn’t exactly quantify this statement.
But the usual trend of Jimmy G’s post-loss efforts has typically been very good. And it’s important to note Garoppolo was dealing with a high-ankle sprain last week suffered in Week 2, too.
Going back to 2019, here are Garoppolo’s numbers following regular-season games in which the SF 49ers lost:
- 2019 Week 11 @ Cardinals: 34-of-45 for 424 yards, four touchdowns, two interceptions, 115.4 passer rating
- 2019 Week 14 @ Saints: 26-of-35 for 349 yards, four touchdowns, one interception, 131.7 passer rating
- 2019 Week 16 vs. Rams: 16-of-27 for 248 yards, one touchdown, two interceptions, 71.2 passer rating
- 2020 Week 2 @ Jets: 14-of-16 for 131 yards, two touchdowns, zero interceptions, 140.4 passer rating
Granted, Garoppolo played only one half in Week 2 this year, and the Week 16 matchup versus L.A. doesn’t look great. But that would overlook those two clutch 3rd-and-16 completions he made on the Niners’ game-winning drive during the game.
Generally speaking, Jimmy G has a history of rebounding, and doing so against the Rams would be an excellent idea.
Both for the 49ers’ current situation and his own reputation.
Atlanta Falcons prediction: Can the birds get their first win of the year?
The Atlanta Falcons are back in action for the first time since firing Dan Quinn.
At 1-4 the Minnesota Vikings aren’t much better than the 0-5 Atlanta Falcons. This has all the makings of a really bad pillow fight among two teams that had Super Bowl hopes coming into 2020.
This will be the fifth time that these two teams have met over the last seven NFL seasons, the Falcons are 0-4 in the previous four meetings. The Falcons last win against the Vikings came in 2011 when Matt Ryan threw for 262 yards and three touchdowns.
Here is how the staff at Blogging Dirty thinks the game turns out.
Jeff Benedict – Site Expert
When these two teams met last season, I was shocked at how bad the Atlanta Falcons had looked. Minnesota jumped out 28-0 and never looked back.
Vikings running back Dalvin Cook evolved into one of the best pass-catching running backs in the league and while he was able to rush for 111 yards, he didn’t embarrass the Falcons like he did other teams across the league.
He will be out Sunday, which is a big advantage for the Falcons.
This Vikings team is much different on the defensive side than they were a year ago and I think the Falcons will be able to take advantage of that.
I think Raheem Morris starts his Falcons coaching career with a win.
Joe Beasley – Contributor
I expect the Falcons to play with some type of fire. If interim head coach Raheem Morris wants a shot at this job or any other head coaching gig, he has to show he can somewhat fix this mess in Atlanta.
The offense does get Julio Jones back which is good for everyone except a young Vikings secondary. Add that to the fact that Dalvin Cook isn’t playing and you have a perfect storm for the Falcons to get their first win.
Besides, I’m bound to get one of these right.
Justin Churchill – Contributor
Last week the Vikings were close to beating the Seahawks. They have a very good offense but may struggle without Dalvin Cook in the backfield.
Their defense will give up a lot, hopefully allowing Todd Gurley to get back into a groove. However, I think the Vikings will win this one.
Ross Terrell – Contributor
It’s officially a new era in Atlanta. Maybe just maybe Raheem Morris was gunning for this job the whole time. So he sabotaged Quinn to get his shot as head coach. Or maybe the Falcons downward spiral will continue.
Let’s hope the latter isn’t true and the Atlanta Falcons finally pull themselves off the mat.
Ethan Johnson – Contributor
The Atlanta Falcons will not win this game. The team may come out inspired and rejuvenated, or heartbroken because their coach is gone.
Either way, it doesn’t really matter because they haven’t beaten the Minnesota Vikings since 2011, and that streak won’t end Sunday.
Buffalo Bills: 4 defensive tackles to consider trading for this season
These are four defensive tackles the Buffalo Bills should consider trying to trade for before the trade deadline.
The defensive line for the Buffalo Bills went through a significant change this past offseason. They saw free agents Jordan Phillips and Shaq Lawson leave in free agency but the front office replaced them with Vernon Butler, Quinton Jefferson, and Mario Addison as well as selecting A.J. Epenesa in the second round.
In addition to those offseason moves, the Bills had last year’s starting defensive tackle Star Lotulelei elect to opt-out of the 2020 season due to concerns around the pandemic.
After six games, it is clear that the changes have caused this defense to take a step backward stopping the run and the front office may need to look outside the organization on how to correct this.
The focus for general manager Brandon Beane should be to look for someone similar to Lotulelei in terms of a zero tech defensive tackle that can eat up space and take on multiple defenders. This will help force running backs into fewer lanes but also free up Tremaine Edmunds and the rest of the second and third-level defenders clear running lanes to get to the ball carrier.
These are four defensive tackles that could be available for a trade that makes sense for the Buffalo Bills.
4 tight ends the Carolina Panthers should target in the 2021 NFL Draft
Which college prospects are emerging as early draft candidates for the Carolina Panthers at the tight end position?
The Carolina Panthers clearly have a need at the tight end spot which needs to be addressed next spring. They are getting next to no production from either Ian Thomas or Chris Manhertz through six games of the 2020 season and this is a stark contrast to what the team got from prolific veteran Greg Olsen for so many years.
It’s hard to deny that this isn’t what the Carolina Panthers expected coming into the season. They had high hopes for Thomas to step up and fill the void left by the Pro Bowler, who opted for one more shot at a Super Bowl with the Seattle Seahawks before inevitably taking up a broadcast position next year.
Thomas hasn’t lived up to his billing this season. He has accumulated just six receptions, 39 receiving yards, and one touchdown from 11 targets, which simply isn’t good enough if the former Indiana standout wants to make a real go of things from a starting role.
Although all hope isn’t lost, he is clearly skating on thin ice.
There were fewer expectations on the shoulders of Manhertz. The veteran is seen as more of a blocking tight end and has aided the Panthers in this area. This has been of particular use to quarterback Teddy Bridgewater and running back Mike Davis, depending on what play is called by Joe Brady.
If things continue as they are then this might be priority No.1 for the Panthers once the dust has settled on the 2020 season. Whether they bring in a veteran during the free agency period is up for debate, but there are plenty of exciting tight end prospects entering the 2021 NFL Draft that will also warrant consideration during the evaluation process.
Let’s take a look at four players at the position who could come into Carolina and potentially make a big impression.