San Francisco 49ers: Ranking the Best Games for the 2013-14 Season
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In their quest to return to the pinnacle of immortality, the San Francisco 49ers will be tested along the way by a multitude of talent. Clocking in with the ninth most difficult strength of schedule this season, it won’t be a walk in the park to get back.
The journey, however, promises to be an entertaining one to say the least. With a gauntlet of quarterbacking talent set to challenge their fearsome defense, the 49ers will look to reinforce the age-old adage—defense wins championships.
With the season quickly approaching, it’s time to take a look at which matchups bring the greatest intrigue and entertainment value. Don’t be surprised to see a few teams led by young, star quarterbacks on this list. After all, it’s their world now, and we’re just living in it.
All stats courtesy of ESPN.com
Honorable Mentions: Houston Texans, New Orleans Saints
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When: Houston Texans—Sunday, October 6, Candlestick Park
New Orleans Saints—Sunday, November 17, Mercedes-Benz Superdome
It’s not that we’re not excited for these games; we most definitely are. The teams in front of these, however, offer a little more intrigue.
Even so, the defensive battle that will take place between the Texans and the 49ers is one for the ages. Likewise, when the offensive juggernaut that is the Saints goes toe-to-toe with the brutality of the 49ers defense, sparks will fly.
The fact that these two teams only qualified for honorable mention is a testament to the plethora of good games this season has to offer.
No. 5: Indianapolis Colts
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When: Sunday, September 22, Candlestick Park
Player A: 3,739 YDS, 56.7 CMP%, 26 TD, 28 INT, 71.2 RAT
Player B: 4,374 YDS, 54.1 CMP%, 23 TD, 18 INT, 76.5 RAT
Player A: 4,135 YDS, 62.1 CMP%, 26 TD, 15 INT, 90.7 RAT
Player B: To be determined.
Largely overshadowed by Robert Griffin III and Russell Wilson last season, Luck was able to transform a 2-14 Indianapolis Colts team into an 11-5 playoff contender. And he hasn’t even scratched the surface of his potential.
Luck doesn’t have the athleticism of RG3, Colin Kaepernick or Wilson. But he just might be the best quarterback of the four. Fortunately for 49ers fans, they’ll have a front row seat to judge that for themselves.
The showdown between two of the NFL’s best young stars is one that is sure to deliver.
No. 4: Washington Redskins
When: Monday, November 25, FedEx Field
That’s really all I need to write for this slide. Luckily, though, I enjoy writing, so I’ll expand a bit.
Robert Griffin III took the league by storm last season, putting together perhaps the most impressive rookie season for a quarterback we’ve ever seen. His numbers weren’t just good for a first-year player; they were as good as the best quarterbacks in the league.
His total QBR of 71.4 ranked him sixth among all eligible passers. He threw 20 touchdown passes to just five interceptions. Oh, and he ran for another seven touchdowns and 815 yards. He’s the Kaepernick of the East Coast.
Seeing those two play on the same field might be the most exhilarating feeling football can provide. The unbelievable will become believable and the incredible will look routine.
The battle between the two most exciting quarterbacks in the league is a treat that cannot be missed.
No. 3: Green Bay Packers
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When: Sunday, September 8, Candlestick Park
The last we saw of the Green Bay Packers, they were staring at the No. 7 on the back of Colin Kaepernicks jersey. After being dismantled by the 49ers last season in the playoffs, look for Green Bay to come out firing.
And with Aaron Rodgers at quarterback, fire the ball they will.
Rodgers is what gives the Packers such a high ranking on this list. He’s must watch television. His mission to pick apart the vaunted 49ers defense will be the ultimate example of what happens when an unstoppable force meets an immovable object.
Also of note will be the contrast between the styles of play between the two quarterbacks. The duel between the best pure passer in the NFL and the most athletically gifted quarterback in the league is one that should incite consistent debate as to the merits of each.
As the opening game in both team’s schedules, the onus to start the season with a win should ensure some serious fireworks throughout. Look for a high-scoring affair to start the season.
No. 2: Seattle Seahawks
When: Sunday, September 15, CenturyLink Field; Sunday, December 8, Candlestick Park
Gentlemen, start your engines.
Fans of both franchises have had these dates circled since the moment the schedules came out. Even more importantly, however, so have the teams themselves.
The animosity between these two teams is very real and it stems from the top. It’s no secret that Pete Carroll and Jim Harbaugh share a mutual distain for each other. As coaches that are as much faces for their franchises as any players on their respective squads, the trickle down effect to their teams is evident.
And the teams are what make these games so juicy. With Seattle boasting the No. 1 scoring defense in the league last season—and San Francisco clocking in right behind at second—the prospects of this hard-hitting affair is downright mouthwatering.
Throw in the perpetual drama that the mouth of Richard Sherman is sure to bring and the inevitable comparisons between Colin Kaepernick and Russell Wilson, and the stage is set for two special clashes.
No. 1: Atlanta Falcons
When: Monday, December 23, Candlestick Park
Could it be anything else?
In a rematch of the 2012-13 NFC Championship game—which saw the 49ers escape with a 28-24 win—arguably the two most dominant teams in football will clash once again.
For true fans of the 49ers, however, the implications surrounding this game extend beyond just the field of play. This battle will also serve as the going away party for Candlestick Park, the home of the 49ers since 1971.
The 49ers will look to defend their home field one last time, a stadium as rich in history as any other.
Emotions will run high for both the teams and the fans. The premier game on the 49ers schedule could turn out to be the premier game of the year as well.
What do you think? Agree or disagree with the list? Sound off in the comments below!