3. Niners in NFC driver's seat?
In each of the past six seasons, an NFC team from the division that played its non-division games against the AFC East during the regular season has wound up in the Super Bowl. In 2006, the Bears played their non-division games against the AFC East and advanced to the Super Bowl; in 2007, the Giants did it; in 2008, the Cardinals did it; in 2009, the Saints did it; in 2010, the Packers did it; and last season, the Giants did it again. This season, the NFC West is slated to play its non-division games against the AFC East, which seems to mean the 49ers must be considered a favorite to become the NFC champion. So far, the trend looks right on course.
Earlier this week, ESPN analyst Merril Hoge said the 49ers -- not the Packers -- have the best offense in football. His opinion is debatable, but this much is not: When the 49ers beat the Packers, San Francisco stamped itself as the team to beat in the NFC. Until running smack into the Niners, the Packers had won an NFL-best 13 straight regular-season games in Green Bay and 19 of their past 20. Along with New Orleans and Baltimore, Green Bay was one of only three teams to go unbeaten at home during the 2011 regular season. San Francisco snapped that streak and the Packers' air of invincibility.
Plus, San Francisco's offense has some impressive stats of its own. The 49ers have gone six straight games and 26 regular-season quarters without turning over the football, and quarterback Alex Smith has not thrown an interception on his past 185 attempts.
"Well, it's a great streak to have," 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh said. "That's one that any quarterback, any quarterback, would be proud to have. And a lot goes into that. Talent. Taking care of the ball. Knowing where everybody is on the field. Knowing defenses. And that's a heck of a streak. Like to keep that one going."
Any team that plays the type of ferocious defense the 49ers do, without turning over the football and with what Hoge calls the NFL's best offense, just might be the best team in football.
[ Edited by SnakePlissken on Sep 14, 2012 at 4:32 PM ]