Despite the fact that they won 13 games and had one of the NFL’s best defenses, the San Francisco 49ers aren’t generating much buzz as a Super Bowl sleeper.That’s largely because they’re boring and don’t have a good quarterback and kick field goals like it’s no one’s business.
But in a year when the league is relatively wide open, they might be the best bet to surprise people and win it all.
They’re the only team that can slow down the Packers and Saints. To get through the NFC, you need some semblance of a pass defence. The 49ers have one. They rank only 16th in the league in passing yards allowed, but that’s misleading since their run defence is so good that teams almost exclusively pass on them. San Fran has played three elite passing teams (Detroit, Philly, and the Giants), and held each of them under their season average for points (-10, -2, and -5, respectively).
Their offensive woes are a little misleading. The Niners offence isn’t great (11th in the league). But it’s not terrible either. Consider this: San Fran played seven games against top-10 scoring defenses. In addition, they run the ball so much that they aren’t going to put up the gaudy scoring numbers of the Packers and Saints. But they’ve dominated nonetheless.
The road through the NFC isn’t as tough as it seems. They get the Saints at home, on a sloppy grass field. No one wants to play the Saints right now, but those conditions are ideal. Then, they’d likely get the Packers in the NFC Championship — they’re trending downward and are trying to skate by with all sorts of injuries along the offensive line.
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