The 49ers kicked off the ninth week by edging the Cardinals on Thursday night to join the Patriots as one of two 8-0 teams, although it did nothing to change the perception that the 49ers are feasting on an easy schedule.
In an unusual move, Tyrann Mathieu of the Chiefs even went on Twitter to question their schedule. And Richard Sherman said it wasn’t championship football. But then an easy schedule always helps a good team.
Check the Dolphins’ 1972 schedule when they posted the only perfect record in the NFL’s first century. The Patriots’ schedule also hasn’t been too taxing, either, although they have more of a challenge against Baltimore Sunday.
We will find out how good the 49ers are when they face Green Bay, Baltimore and New Orleans in a three-game stretch later in the season.
The 49ers aren’t even the lock for the top seed yet because the Saints and Packers both have just one loss.
The Patriots, by contrast, are the only team in the AFC with fewer than two losses.
Game of the week:
The 5-2 Ravens host the Patriots in the Patriots toughest test so far. It will be a test for quarterback Lamar Jackson. Considering Bill Belichick’s record of confusing young quarterbacks, Jackson is unlikely to pull off an upset.
Game of the weak:
The 1-6 New York Jets go to Miami to face the 0-7 Dolphins as both teams have a shot at the first pick. The Jets probably get the edge because they seem to be trying to win. Adam Gase will be facing the team that fired him last year and could be fired by two teams two years in a row if the Jets continue to struggle.
What to watch for this week:
—The Colts, leading the AFC South at 5-2, face the 3-4 Steelers without injured T.Y. Hilton. He has missed just five games since being drafted in 2012 and the Colts have lost all five without him. A Steeler win, combined with a Baltimore loss to New England, would put the Steelers just a game behind the Ravens in the AFC North. That would mean the Steelers would be in the playoff hunt with rookie Mason Rudolph at quarterback after failing to make it the last year with Ben Roethlisberger.
—These are tough times for the Redskins. They are 1-7 and will start rookie Dwayne Haskins, who has struggled in two relief appearances. Facing the Buffalo defense will be no day at the park. Haskins has four picks, four sacks, no touchdown passes and a 54.5 completion percentage while completing 12 of 22 passes. This is not likely to go well for Haskins and the Redskins. Look for the Redskins to call a lot of running plays.
—John Elway’s quarterback troubles continue. With Joe Flacco out for the year with a neck injury, Brandon Allen, who’s never taken an NFL snap, will start against Cleveland. He is the sixth starting quarterback the Broncos have had since 2017. The Broncos have decided rookie Drew Lock isn’t ready. Elway was great at playing quarterback, but not so good at finding them when Peyton Manning isn’t on the market.
—The Giants may have rushed rookie Daniel Jones in too early. In six starts, he has one two wins, seven picks and eight fumbles (losing six) and now he goes in prime time against the Cowboys Monday night. He doesn’t look like he is ready for prime time.
—Will Minshew mania travel well across the pond? He has already won rookie of the week honors six times and faces a Houston defense in London that is riddled with injuries. A victory gives the Jaguars a 5-4 mark going into their bye with a decision of whether to stick with Minshew or go back to Nick Foles, who was injured in the opener. Maybe Foles needs to grow a mustache.