After yet another Sunday demolition, one would think the Lombardi Trophy should get shipped straight to the Bay Area.
Done deal. Game over. The San Francisco 49ers are your Super Bowl champion.
I’m serious. The way sports fans are so reactionary these days, they simply forget about the Saints or Seahawks in the NFC. They’ve shifted their focus from the Patriots and can’t appreciate Ravens rookie Lamar Jackson.
Right now, after the 49ers humiliated the Packers, everyone’s Super Bowl favorites are wearing scarlet red and metallic gold. But, I’m not so sure I’m ready to crown the 49ers after delving into their schedule, and actually breaking down who the 49ers have played this year.
Per teamrankings.com, the 49ers have the 31st-ranked schedule strength this season, just ahead of the surprising Bills. The highest the 49ers have been on the list this season is 14th. As of now, at 31, they’re at their lowest point.
So, yes they’ve dominated their opponents, but I also see a rather soft schedule. And I’ll even take it a step further, and look at where their opponents’ offense ranked in the entire league at kickoff:
• at Tampa Bay Buccaneers - season-opener
• at Cincinnati Bengals - 10th overall
• Pittsburgh Steelers - 29th overall
• Cleveland Browns - 12th overall
• at Los Angeles Rams - 5th overall
• at Washington Redskins - 28th overall
• Carolina Panthers - 20th overall
• at Arizona Cardinals - 22nd overall
• Seattle Seahawks - 4th overall
• Arizona Cardinals - 18th overall
• Green Bay Packers - 17th overall
The average ranking is 16.5, smack dab in the middle of the league’s 32 teams. Only four of the 10 opponents since Week 2 ranked in the upper half of the league. And at the time the 49ers played these teams, only three ranked in the top 10 with a specific unit — the Bengals and Rams had the No. 2 pass attacks those weeks, and the Panthers had the No. 9 rushing game.
And who ranks No. 1 in terms of strength of schedule? The only team that beat San Francisco — the Seahawks, who are sitting just one game back in the NFC West.
Seattle put the most points on the 49ers this season, with their 27-24 win on Nov. 11 — and that was in San Francisco.
So before you all think about sending the 22-inch, 7-pound sterling silver trophy to San Francisco, let’s let the season play out.
After all, the ‘Niners and Seahawks meet Dec. 29 in the season finale, and by winning out, Seattle would nab the NFC West title and potentially homefield advantage, depending on how the Saints fare the rest of the way.
I know I’m looking to fare better the rest of the way. I went 2-4 last week, and as I wish you all a Happy Thanksgiving, I am dialed in for six more winners this week.
Bears at Lions +3: At home, for Turkey Day, off an embarrassing performance in D.C., the Lions will shake off their performance and have people wondering where this team has been the past eight games. LIONS
Titans +3 at Colts: Since being named the starter, Ryan Tannehill has led the Titans on a 4-1 win streak. He leads the AFC and is third in the NFL with a 111.4 passer rating and faces a team that has lost three of four. TITANS
Packers -6.5 at Giants: The Packers will have shaken off their loss to San Francisco before heading to Jersey and will be much better offensively. Green Bay averaged 2.82 yards per play vs. San Francisco’s defense. This week the Packers face the 27th-ranked defense. PACKERS
Buccaneers at Jaguars -1: A pair of 4-7 teams in the Sunshine State, and I’ll go with the northern entry, as I don’t believe the Buccaneers are as good as we saw. I think they beat a Falcons team that revealed its true colors. Besides, the Jaguars are 3-for-3 against Tampa Bay in Jacksonville. JAGUARS
Patriots -3 at Texans: New England shut down the league’s No. 1 offense. We saw Baltimore, which isn’t a defensive team this season, do the same to this Houston team. New England is on pace to challenge the record for fewest points allowed in a season. PATRIOTS
Vikings at Seahawks -3: If you read my column, you see the Seahawks have played the toughest schedule this season. They’re on a mission to win out and take the NFC West crown from Frisco. Seattle’s defense remains stout. SEAHAWKS
Last week: 2-4