Friday, October 25, 2013

5 Burning Questions For Week 8

I am going to change things up a bit this week, and eschew the usual 5 questions, instead limiting it to only 1:

Will the 49ers stay focused enough after a long road trip, with a bye coming up and facing a winless opponent to play their game?

Let's face it, the only way the Jaguars can beat the 49ers is if the 49ers don't show up.  Of course the 49ers are going to physically be in Wembley Stadium for kickoff Sunday night, but will their minds be into it?

After all, the Jaguars are not just bad, they are almost pathetic on offense.  They have averaged 9.7 points through their first 7 games, and have scored only 6 touchdowns.  Not surprisingly the Jaguars are also last in the league in total offense, averaging only 282 yards per contest, and their quarterbacks have been sacked a league leading 28 times.

Despite losing Aldon Smith after the 3rd game of the season the 49ers defense has been very strong over the last 4 games, giving up an average of only 12.8 points per game, compared to 28 points per game over the first three weeks.

The reduction in points allowed can be traced back to a change in offensive philosophy.  Through the first 3 games of the season the 49ers offense had passed the ball on 55% of its plays.  The last 4 games has seen that number drop dramatically, down to 36%.  This has allowed the 49ers to dominate the time of possession, averaging just over 32 minutes during that span compared to just over 28 minutes through the first 3 weeks.

The recent focus back to the ground game sets the 49ers up perfectly for Sunday.  For those of you who want to see the 49ers air the ball out for 4 quarters this might not be the game for you.  Not only are the Jaguars pathetic on offense, but they aren't much better on defense.  Playing alongside the worst offense in the league will wear down any defense, and as a result the Jaguars have given up the most rushing yards of any team, and are currently tied for 5th worst in yards per carry at 4.6.

The Jaguars secondary isn't much better.  Although they are ranked 14th in yards given up per game, a lot of that has to do with the fact that they have faced the 4th fewest passing attempts as teams get up on them early and take the air out of the ball with the run.  In other words, look for Anquan Boldin and Vernon Davis to get some big plays in the first half, and the for the 49ers offensive line to take over in the second half while the offense works to run out the clock.

Of course this is the NFL and the Jaguars could somehow pull off an upset on Sunday, but that will only happen if the 49ers don't show up.

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