On the precipice of the NFL schedule-release soiree, I figured it would be a good time to take a look at the 49ers' 2013 opponents and make some predictions about how things might shake out.
- Home: Atlanta Falcons, Carolina Panthers, Houston Texans, Indianapolis Colts, Green Bay Packers, Arizona Cardinals, Seattle Seahawks, St. Louis Rams
- Road: New Orleans Saints, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Jacksonville Jaguars (London),Tennessee Titans, Washington Redskins, Arizona Cardinals, Seattle Seahawks, St. Louis Rams
1. 49ers will have the most primetime games this season
The 49ers tallied six primetime games in 2012, coming off of their resurgent 2011 campaign. The sixth one, a Week 16 Sunday night drubbing at the hands of Seattle, was garnered as a flex decision by NBC. Now, fresh off of a Super Bowl appearance and with a young, superstar quarterback in tow, you can expect the 49ers to once again dominate primetime slots. Look for matchups against the Falcons, Packers, Saints, Seahawks, and Redskins as likely candidates for primetime consideration.
2. 49ers will open the season in primetime against Seattle
Amid plenty of offseason buzz about the arms race between Seattle and San Francisco out West, something tells me that the Niners are going to open up against Seattle under the lights. Originally, I had projected it to be a Monday Night contest, but the Monday Night opener is a double header with the first game usually being in the Eastern timezone and the secondary game being out West. With that said, the 49ers/Seahawks matchup would be too big of a game to shove off until 10PM, so I'm going to say that Week 1 is a Sunday Night Football battle between the two contenders at Candlestick.
3. The Niners will play the Redskins on October 17
The one date that's already set in stone is the 49ers game against the Jaguars on October 27th at Wembley Stadium in London. Based off of that, I think the Niners will get an Eastern timezone game the preceding week. That leaves the Redskins, Titans, and Buccaneers as candidates. Since Tampa is too far south and Tennessee is too far inland, I think the schedule makers will look to pin the Niners against the Skins in a Thursday night game before the trek to London. As I predicted earlier, the league will want to showcase Kaepernick vs. RGIII under the lights and it seems most likely to do so en route to Great Britain.
4. Bye Week will be November 3rd
Based off of the London game, this one is somewhat of a no-brainer. If the Niners do indeed travel to Washington D.C. and then England, the league would likely give them a bye the following week to recuperate. Regardless of whether or not the Redskins are their opponent the week before Wembley, the Niners seem destined to have a bye week November 3rd after an international road game.
5. Niners will play the Rams in the season finale in St. Louis
The league usually likes to close out the season with a heavy dose of inter-division battles. Since I expect the Niners to take on Seattle at home in the opener, look for them to close on the road in St. Louis. Arizona is always a possibility, but St. Louis has much greater upside heading into the season and could actually contend for a wild card spot in the NFC. That would make for a much more intriguing matchup, especially considering how tight the games were between these two teams last season.
So there you have it. My five predictions. By 8pm EST tonight, we'll know how close to/far off the mark I was. What are your predictions? Be sure to voice them in the comments section and see how they turn out.