NFC West: Dolphins-Patriots
Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando
The 49ers' schedule doesn't look quite so difficult now that the Saints and Patriots have fallen short of widespread expectations. Why can't the 49ers win at New Orleans in Week 4? Why can't they beat the Patriots at Candlestick Park the following week?
I ask the questions because the next two games provide the 49ers with an unexpected opportunity to have a 4-1 record heading into a tough three-game stretch featuring the Eagles, Giants and Seahawks. Losing the next two games would leave the 49ers at 2-3 heading into those games.
The 49ers are playing with great excitement and confidence on offense. That excitement is affecting the rest of the team. Now is the time for the 49ers to ride their momentum into games against flawed teams.
The Saints' defense ranks among the NFL's five worst in total yards, yards per play, yards per rush, passing yards, sacks per pass attempt and points. The Patriots just made Ronnie Brown look like a Hall of Famer.
I like the 49ers' chances on offense against the Saints. The 49ers' defense won't have to worry about Saints receiver Marques Colston or tight end Jeremy Shockey, both injured. That makes it easier for the 49ers to focus on Reggie Bush.