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49ers’ Top 5 Non-Divisional Games for 2024

Marc Adams
May 15, 2024 at 5:23 PM

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The NFL schedule has been released and the San Francisco 49ers now know when and where they will play each regular season game. The divisional games are always important. You want to win your division above all else.

But the 49ers also have some important non-divisional games. Some of these games very well could play a part in NFC postseason seedings. Because of this, I've chosen three NFC games as the top non-divisional games for the 49ers. These are the five most important non-divisional games for the 49ers—the games that could play the biggest role in whether or not San Francisco wins a Super Bowl.

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These may not be the primetime games that get the most attention, but in the long run, they should be the most crucial games of the season for the 49ers. Here are the top five non-divisional games for 2024.

1. Detroit Lions (Week 17, Monday night, December 30th at Levi's Stadium)

Why is this game number one? Simply, the Detroit Lions were the team the 49ers beat in the NFC Championship Game. The Lions will be looking for revenge, and to show they are the NFC's best team. And to their credit, Detroit has improved this offseason. And that's after being a really tough out for the 49ers last January.

The Lions dominated in the first half and then crumbled in the second half. In re-watching the game, you can see that Detroit blew it. As bad as the 49ers were in the first half, the Lions were that bad in the second half. Which Lions team will show up in 2024? If it's the first-half Lions, then the 49ers will have their hands full.

Biggest question: Can the 49ers stop the Lions run game?

Biggest concern for 49ers fans: Detroit's offense vs. San Francisco's defense.

2. Green Bay Packers (Week 12, Sunday, November 24th at Lambeau Field)

The Green Bay Packers were another up-and-coming team in 2023, and they will be even better in 2024. The divisional playoff game against the 49ers was close and came down to the final drive, in which the 49ers intercepted QB Jordan Love. Sure, it was a rain game, and we all know 49ers QB Brock Purdy struggles to throw a wet football, but the Packers were no joke last season.

Like the Lions, Green Bay has improved in the offseason and will be a tough matchup for the 49ers. Perhaps the Packers and Lions can beat each other up enough to help the 49ers. The two games against the NFC North's top two teams will be very important. And with this game being in Green Bay, against a team frustrated by losing to the 49ers year after year, the Packers and their fans will be fired up to knock off the defending NFC Champs.

Biggest question: What will Love look like in his second year as a starter?

Biggest concern for 49ers fans: Green Bay's offense vs. the 49ers defense.

3. Dallas Cowboys (Week 8, Sunday night, October 27th at Levi's Stadium)

The Dallas Cowboys always look like they'll be very good—until they play the 49ers. Will this be the year they finally knock off the 49ers? If not, it will be fun watching their fans smash TVs again. But since they will be one of the teams near the top of the conference, this will be another big game for San Francisco.

This will be a Sunday night game, so everyone will be watching. That usually bodes well for the 49ers, but if the Cowboys can pull off a Levi's Stadium upset, many of the talking heads will proclaim Dallas is back and that the 49ers are on their way down. If you think Skip Bayless is annoying now, wait until the Cowboys beat the 49ers. He'll be unbearable then. And so will the rest of that irritating fanbase.

Biggest question: Is this the year the Cowboys beat the 49ers?

Biggest concern for 49ers fans: Protecting Purdy.

4. Kansas City Chiefs (Week 7, Sunday, October 20th at Levi's Stadium)

If you're sick of losing to the Kansas Chiefs, then this will be a big matchup. It's the first non-NFC game on the list. The conference matchups are more important, due to their weight in postseason seedings. So usually an AFC game isn't as big of a deal. But the 49ers always lose to the Chiefs. San Francisco can't seem to beat those guys, whether it's the Super Bowl or the regular season.

You have to go back to 2014, Jim Harbaugh's final season as head coach of the 49ers, to find the last time the 49ers beat the Chiefs. Since 1994, the 49ers are 3-8 against the Chiefs, including the two Super Bowl losses. It's not just Patrick Mahomes that the 49ers can't beat. It's most Kansas City quarterbacks.

A win over Mahomes and the Chiefs, be it in the regular season, could go a long way should these two teams again meet in the Super Bowl. The 49ers need to get that monkey off their back. Just as Steve Young's 49ers had to figure out how to beat the Cowboys and Packers in the 1990s, Purdy's team needs to figure out how to beat the Chiefs.

Biggest question: Can the 49ers finally stop Mahomes?

Biggest concern for 49ers fans: Stopping Mahomes and DT Chris Jones.

5. New York Jets (Week 1, Monday night, September 9th at Levi's Stadium)

You can make the case that the road games against the Minnesota Vikings and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers should be number five since they are NFC games. But I'm going with the New York Jets game since it's opening week, on Monday Night, in Aaron Rodgers' return. It will be important for the 49ers to get off to a good start, and with everyone watching on the opening Monday night, this will be the perfect place to show the rest of the league that the 49ers are still among the NFL's best.

This game will be interesting, with plenty of storylines. Robert Saleh, and other coaches and players who used to be with the 49ers, returning to the Bay Area to take on their former team. Rodgers trying to beat a team that has knocked him out of the playoffs at least four times. The social media beef between 49ers CB Charvarius Ward and Jets CB Sauce Gardner. These will all be big stories to follow.

Biggest question: Can the New York defense slow down the 49ers offense?

Biggest concern for 49ers fans: Keeping pass rusher Haason Reddick away from Purdy.

But the fact that it['s week one puts this game on the list.

Those are my top five non-divisional games in 2024. What are the five biggest to you?

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