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San Francisco 49ers 2011 Predictions: Outcomes for All 16 Regular Season Games

Gordon BlockContributor IIIAugust 17, 2011

San Francisco 49ers 2011 Predictions: Outcomes for All 16 Regular Season Games

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    The San Francisco 49ers will not have an easy run for the upcoming 2011 season. In addition to undergoing large personnel shifts on several parts of their roster, the team must adjust to a new system from incoming head coach Jim Harbaugh.

    These preseason difficulties will be directly seen in worst place for Niners fans: the regular season loss column. 

    In this preview for the season, each week's game will be reviewed with reasons the 49ers could win, reasons why they could lose and an overall prediction for the game.

    Let's get right into it... 

Week 1: Seattle Seahawks

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    The 49ers begin their season with a home matchup against NFC West rival (and potential division bottom feeder) Seattle Seahawks. The Niners hope to not repeat the outcome of their last opening game, when the Seahawks rocked them by a score of 31-6.

    Why the 49ers could win: 

    1) The game is at home. The 49ers have won the last two home games against the Seahawks.

    2) New quarterback Tarvaris Jackson isn't the real deal.

    3) Frank Gore's rushing ability. The Seahawks were 21st in the league last year in rushing yards allowed, letting opposing backs put up 118.9 rushing yards per game.

    Why the 49ers could lose:

    1) Who's going to cover Sidney Rice?

    2) Is the line ready to go this early in the season?

    3) Marshawn Lynch's ability to break off runs like this.

     

    Prediction: 49ers 23 Seahawks 14


Week 2: Dallas Cowboys

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    The Niners enter Week 2 with a matchup against the NFC East's Dallas Cowboys. Led by top-level quarterback Tony Romo and coach Jason Garrett (entering his first full season as head coach), the Cowboys will look to continue on a strong 5-3 finish to last season following the firing of head coach Wade Phillips

    Why the 49ers could win:

    1) The Cowboys' offensive line has shown signs of weakness and age. If the Niners can bring pressure, it could lead quarterback Tony Romo into making mistakes.

    2) Even with Rob Ryan as new defensive coordinator, the Cowboys secondary could struggle in preventing the Niners' passing game. This might be a surprisingly good game for Alex Smith.

    3) The Cowboys' lack of receiving depth could create issues 

    Why the 49ers could lose:

    1) Even after dumping receiver Roy Williams, Romo can still throw to Miles Austin, Jason Witten and electrifying rookie Dez Bryant.

    2) Tashard Choice and Felix Jones are a pretty dangerous running pair.

    3) Ryan's defense will try a lot of different lineups to confuse the newly forming offensive line, which could lead Smith into making some poor throws.

     

    Prediction: Cowboys 21 49ers 17

Week 3: At Cincinnati Bengals

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    The Niners should be favorites for one of the few times this season going against the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 3. Bengals rookie quarterback Andy Dalton (pictured), made starter with the resignation of Carson Palmer, has shown signs of struggling in early preseason play and the Niners defense will look to capitalize.

    Why the 49ers could win:

     

    1) Andy Dalton will struggle as he adjusts to NFL pace. Even worse, it doesn't look like the Bengals have any major receiving options.

    2) The Bengals defense features two players who struggled in last years' Niners defense (cornerback Nate Clements and linebacker Manny Lawson). 

    3) The Cincinnati Bungles are back.

     

    Why the 49ers could lose:

    1) Cedric Benson can still move the ball effectively (provided he's not in trouble again

    2) Clements and Lawson should be able to get a jump

    3) The Niners always seem to blow the games it's expected to win.

     

    Prediction: 49ers 21 Bengals 6

Week 4: At Philadelphia Eagles

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    The Niners move along to challenge the Philadelphia Eagles, who have become a major NFC challenger after making big free-agent signings across the board. Michael Vick, fresh off a dynamic 2010 season, will be primed to put up big numbers after missing out in last year's contest (when Kevin Kolb led the Eagles to a 27-24 win). 

    This one might get ugly.

    Why the 49ers could win:

    1) Michael Vick might get hurt, resulting in the less prepared Vince Young stepping in to action.

    2) Vick might have limited receiving options depending on the health status of Jeremy Maclin and Steve Smith.  

    3) If the Eagles team bus gets lost (on the way to a home game), the Niners would win by forfeit.

     

    Why the 49ers could lose:

    1) The Eagles deep roster of corners could magnify any inaccurate pass from Alex Smith.

    2) Michael Vick is playing really well.

    3) The Niners would have to play in hostile Philadelphia.

     

    Prediction: Eagles 38 49ers 6

Week 5: Tampa Bay Buccaneers

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    The Niners will face a challenge as they welcome in the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to town. The Bucs will rely on their rising star, quarterback Josh Freeman, to carry a young receiving corps which lacks a major No. 1 receiving option.

    Why the 49ers could win:

    1) The Buccaneers have limited depth on the defensive side, especially in the secondary.

    2) The Bucs may struggle without a full-time back to work alongside LeGarrette Blount.

    3) As said before, the Bucs wide receiving corps is young and unproven (sounds familiar).

     

    Why the 49ers could lose:

    1) Josh Freeman was good last season, and is only beginning to show his true potential.

    2) The Bucs were 8-1 last season against non-playoff opponents.

    3) Kellen Winslow, the team's leading receiver, was under utilized last season, and won't be this time around.

     

    Prediction: Buccaneers 24- 49ers 13

Week 6: At Detroit Lions

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    The Niners head to the Motor City for their Week 6 game against the Detroit Lions. Highly-touted quarterback Matt Stafford, who has shown flashes of brilliance, will be under a lot of pressure this year to show some endurance and avoid the long-term injuries that have limited his play in his first few seasons.

    The strong point of the Lions looks to be its defensive line, where the team's drafting has brought an abundance of talent and size.

    Why the 49ers could win:

    1) By Week 6, quarterback Matt Stafford might be out with injury.

    2) The Lions' offensive line has a lot of questions about its durability.

    3) The same durability questions also go for running back Jahvid Best.

     

    Why the 49ers could lose:

    1) Lions' backup Shaun Hill can still win games (which he proved while wearing a Niners uniform).

    2) The Lions' defensive line is terrifying. Alex Smith will receive a dirty hit from Ndamukong Suh.

    3) Calvin Johnson is a monster receiving option, no matter who throws the passes.

     

    Prediction: 49ers 27 Lions 21

Week 8: Cleveland Browns

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    (NOTE: Week 7 is the 49ers' bye week.)

    The 49ers return home in Week 8 to take on the Cleveland Browns. The perennial bottom feeders have shown some life with the addition of stellar Peyton Hillis last year, and will hope that quarterback Colt McCoy will show new life in a West Coast offense that will suit his less than stellar arm strength.

    Despite these improvements, the Browns still have many holes in their roster which will leave the Niners opportunities to take advantage.

    Why the 49ers could win:

    1) Colt McCoy has very few quality targets to look for.

    2) The Brown's defense struggles to bring pressure on opposing quarterbacks

    3) The Browns are looking to bring in two new starters to their defensive line.

     

    Why the 49ers could lose:

    1) Colt McCoy has improved his accuracy, and will only be helped by a move to the West Coast offensive scheme.

    2) Peyton Hillis is good.

    3) Peyton Hillis is really really good.

     

    Prediction: 49ers 24 Browns 20

Week 9: At Washington Redskins

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    The 49ers travel to the nation's capital in Week 9 to take on the Washington Redskins. The 'Skins, in their second season under veteran head coach Mike Shanahan, will want to see big improvements over their 6-10 record in 2010. 

    The 'Skins resisted going after pricey free agents, instead bringing in cost-effective veterans into the roster. However, the major question for Washington is who will start at quarterback: John Beck or Rex Grossman.

    Why the 49ers could win:

    1) John Beck and Rex Grossman are one of the few quarterback units that make the Niners look good.

    2) Washington's receivers are pretty underwhelming beyond Santana Moss.

    3) The Redskins' kicking game is pretty lousy, which could cost them in a close matchup.

    Why the 49ers could lose:

    1) The Redskins' running game could be pretty solid (depending on the development of Tim Hightower).

    2) The secondary, while inconsistent, frequently sets itself up for interception opportunities.

    3) Brian Orakpo could create issues on the outside for the Niners' blockers.

     

    Prediction: 49ers 14 Redskins 10

Week 10: New York Giants

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    The New York Giants come to San Francisco for Eeek 10, and the matchup could be tricky for the Niners. The Giants, led by quarterback Eli Manning, come off a season which ended in major disappointment following a final second loss to the Philadelphia Eagles. 

    The Giants were criticized for their lack of signings during the offseason, which saw not only their divisional rival Philadelphia Eagles get stronger, but their stadium partner New York Jets as well.

    Why the 49ers could win:

    1) The Giants offensive line has been shifted dramatically over the offseason, which could lead to some sack opportunities.

    2) New York somewhat struggled in run defense last season.

    3) Directional punting has proven itself to be an issue. 

    Why the 49ers could lose:

    1) The Giants boast an aggressive defensive unit. Look for Osi Umenyiora to make life unpleasant for the Niners' offense.

    2) Eli Manning still has it.

    3) The game won't come down to directional punting (most likely).

     

    Prediction: Giants 30 49ers 10

Week 11: Arizona Cardinals

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    The Niners get their first shot against the improved Arizona Cardinals at home in Week 11. The big change comes at quarterback, with the Cardinals making a big splash in pulling Kevin Kolb from the Philadelphia Eagles. However, the team seems to have limited depth on the defensive end, particularly in the secondary. 

    Why the 49ers could win:

    1) The Niners dominated the Cardinals last season, sweeping both meetings handily.

    2) The Cardinals will have limited depth at the running back position.

    3) The loss of Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie leaves some questions in the secondary.

    Why the 49ers could lose:

    1) The loss of Nate Clements, the only corner the Niners had who could cover Larry Fitzgerald, might hurt in a major way.

    2) Kevin Kolb beat the 49ers when playing with the Philadelphia Eagles in 2010.

    3) The Niners may be looking to change quarterbacks at this time of the season, especially if Alex Smith is underperforming.

     

    Prediction: Cardinals 20 49ers 16

Week 12: At Baltimore Ravens

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    The inaugural Harbaugh Bowl kicks off in Baltimore as the 49ers take on the Ravens for Week 12. While the Ravens are considered contenders in the deep AFC, they've added a few more pieces (including recently adding wide receiver Lee Evans) to get over the hump.

    Why the 49ers could win:

    1) San Francisco coach Jim Harbaugh's pride will not allow him to lose.

    2) Patrick Willis is the heir apparent to the All-World defender role currently held by Ray Lewis.

    3) Frank Gore, attempting to avenge fellow Miami running back Willis McGahee, will outperform Ray Rice.

    Why the 49ers could lose:

    1) Baltimore coach John Harbaugh's pride will not allow him to lose.

    2) Joe Flacco is a much better passer than either 49er quarterback.

    3) The Ravens defense will aggressively attack the line, wrecking any potential momentum.

     

    Prediction: Ravens 24 49ers 9

Week 13: St. Louis Rams

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    The Niners begin the tail-end of their divisional schedule in Week 13 against the St. Louis Rams. The Rams, which nearly stole the NFC West title last season, have shown signs of improvement through the offseason. The team will only improve with the growth of quarterback Sam Bradford

    The Rams should be major contenders for the division with the Arizona Cardinals.

    Why the 49ers could win:

    1) Won at home last season against the Rams.

    2) Steven Jackson will most likely be run into the ground.

    3) The Rams lack a major receiving threat for Sam Bradford.

    Why the 49ers could lose:

    1) Young defenders like James Laurinaitis can create matchup issues galore for the offensive line.

    2) Frank Gore will most likely be run into the ground.

    3) Sam Bradford was good last season, and will only get better. 

     

    Prediction: Rams 24 49ers 10

Week 14: At Arizona Cardinals

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    The Niners conclude their season rivalry with the Arizona Cardinals on the road. The Cardinals, looking to keep up with the St. Louis Rams going down the stretch, will go in knowing that they must take the win from the week's matchup.

    Why the 49ers could win:

    1) The Cardinals are very thin at quarterback, should Kolb go out like he did shortly in 2010.

    2) The Niners' secondary would be better prepared to play against Larry Fitzgerald than in their first meeting.

    3) Alex Smith will play realizing any missteps from this point will most likely end his pro career.

    Why the 49ers could lose:

    1) Larry Fitzgerald is still Larry Fitzgerald.

    2) The Cardinals will be aggressively challenging for the division crown, and will not take a loss for an answer.

    3) The 49ers' past success (2010 dominance) is no indicator of future success.

     

    Prediction: Cardinals 24 49ers 17

Week 15: Pittsburgh Steelers

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    The 49ers welcome Super Bowl runner-up Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 15, which should be one of the tougher matchups of the season. Veteran quarterback Ben Roethlisberger leads a dynamic offensive unit, matched only by the strength of the defense.

    This could be a rough final home game for the Niners. 

    Why the 49ers could win:

    1) Ben Roethlisberger might do something stupid to get himself suspended or injured. 

    2) Having secured a playoff spot, the Steelers may be comfortable putting in backups.

    3) The Steelers' offensive line has faced injury problems in the past, and could struggle to hang in this late in the season.   

    Why the 49ers could lose:

    1) The Steelers can stop the rush. Pittsburgh led the league in rushing yards allowed in 2010. 

    2) Cornerback Ike Taylor will make things tricky for Smith (or possibly Kaepernick) as they look for receivers.

    3) The Steelers have a lot of different receiving weapons to make things tricky, including Hines Ward, Mike Wallace and Heath Miller.

     

    Prediction: Steelers 28 49ers 17


Week 16: At Seattle Seahawks

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    The Niners move toward the end of the regular season with a road matchup against the Seattle Seahawks. The Niners, way out of playoff contention at this point, will allow Colin Kaepernick to take all snaps to end the year as they assess his value into next season.

    Why the 49ers could win:

    1) Charlie Whitehurst is not that good.

    2) Seattle will want to lose this game to improve draft position.

    3) The temptation of Andrew Luck will be too much to resist for Seattle.

    Why the 49ers could lose:

    1) Neither 49ers quarterback will be great at this point either.

    2) The 49ers will want to lose to improve draft positioning.

    3) The Niners were rocked 31-6 last time they played in Seattle.

     

    Prediction: 49ers 13 Seahawks 10


Week 17: At St. Louis Rams

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    The Niners end their season on the road, against their division rival St. Louis Rams. 

    With the 49ers out of playoff contention, they could relish the opportunity to play spoiler should the Rams challenge for the NFC West crown.

    Why the 49ers could win:

    1) The Niners would be motivated to spoil the end of the Rams' regular season.

    2) Colin Kaepernick would be motivated to play well to build into next season.

    Why the 49ers could lose:

    1) If the team is looking to move up in the draft, this may not be the game to win.

    2) The Niners lost last season at St. Louis.

    3) The Rams will enjoy beating the Niners as they look to grab the NFC West title.

     

    Prediction: Rams 23 49ers 17

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