San Francisco 49ers Prove They Are Tops Against Washington Redskins
Written by Greg Smith – 11-12 NFL Prediction Record (7-2)
The idea that the San Francisco 49ers are ranked second in most NFL power-ranking lists has certainly created its fair share of controversy this week among NFL fans and insiders alike. While many people bristle at the notion that the upstart 49ers have forgotten their place and now outrank the New England Patriots I am of the opinion that the specific number on a power rank list is largely irrelevant. The central point is that the 49ers have in fact demonstrated that they are currently a legitimate top five NFL team. Equally as important is the fact that San Francisco is relatively healthy at the moment, with most of their starting players ready to go this weekend against the severely hobbled Washington Redskins. Keeping with the idea of power rankings, the Washington Redskins have never cracked the top ten this year and currently sit below about two-thirds of the teams in the NFL.
Looking more closely at where the San Francisco 49ers stand in other important NFL rankings we notice that they are ranked at the top for lowest points allowed per game, rushing yards allowed per game and tenth in total yards allowed per game. Keep in mind that while power ranking lists are largely opinion based, these rankings are numerically based, meaning there is no fooling around with the numbers. One instance in which we can see a clear opportunity for the 49ers to capitalize on the Redskins is their banged-up offensive line. Last weekend the Redskins allowed the Buffalo Bills to record nine sacks upon bewildered QB John Beck as their offensive line was simply too depleted to provide proper pocket protection. Since the 49ers defence ranks far above the Bills in terms of points and yards allowed, we can only figure that they should at least come close to matching this pressure on the Redskins QB. In addition, one of the 49ers crown jewels is linebacker Aldon Smith who is a genuine candidate for defensive rookie of the year as he ranks seventh in the league for QB sacks.
In addition to the offensive line problems of the Washington Redskins, they will be without some of their primary offensive weapons as wide receiver Santana Moss, tight end Chris Cooley and running back Tim Hightower will be sidelined with injuries. Although the Redskins have brought in Tashard Choice to lighten the running back pressure, he is also questionable due to injury and is of questionable ability due to being recently waived by the Dallas Cowboys. The Washington Redskins defence continues to play reasonably well, limiting the potentially high-powered Buffalo Bills to 23 points but this effort is largely nullified when the offence fails to produce a single point. It’s hardly a secret that Coach Shanahan and the Redskins coaching staff have designed plans around strong defence and a run first, ball-control offence. This strategy has worked to a point but the Redskins are now so depleted due to injuries that we see the major dilemma facing them this weekend-their defence can slow down the opposition but the offence struggles to even get started.
As I mentioned at the start of the article, the 49ers are not receiving the respect they deserve for what they have accomplished to this point of the season. Critics will point to QB Alex Smith as not being among the elite of the league and they may be correct to an extent. However, let us remember that Smith has led the 49ers to overcome a 20 point deficit versus the Philadelphia Eagles and threw the game-winning touchdown pass versus the Detroit Lions with two minutes left to play. With San Francisco we have a high powered defence and an offence that has been battle tested this season and proven themselves to be among the league’s best. On the other hand, the Washington Redskins remind us that injuries are a huge part of success in the NFL and currently they are finding themselves severely undermanned.
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