moment. However, I shade my answer to "no." I was lower on them coming into the year than the rest of the world and their Super Bowl champion fever. I decided to pump the brakes and make them prove they can finish above .500 before I made them AFC champions.
So, what is this team after the first month of the season? They are a 2-2 football team that is tied for the lead in the AFC North. Winning as much as you lose is not impressive to me, granted it’s a small sample size.
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The strength of this team is the defense. We knew coming into the season this would be the case and so far that opinion has held. They are currently ranked eighth in defensive DVOA, which is one of the better analytical ratings to gauge a team’s overall offense or defense.
The defense is stacked with talent which should be what guides this team should they make the playoffs. On the other side of the ball, the offense has had a bit of a rocky start. This is an offensive that has a ridiculous amount of talent at skill positions. It is not a stretch to say the best skill position players in the league and worthy of an NFL pick.
QB Baker Mayfield has struggled a bit this year, call it the sophomore slump. He looked more dynamic and accurate in his breakout rookie season. This team’s success in the end, is predicated on how well he plays this year. This week the Browns play a 49ers team that has gotten out to a fast start. Can Baker Mayfield lead this team to a win on Monday night?
Are the 49ers as good as their 3-0 start indicates?
It’s too early to answer that question. I have a season win total over ticket in my pocket for the 49ers, so I was a believer of this team going into the year. The analytics love this team. They are currently ranked 2nd in defense and 6th in offensive DVOA. That is really good for a team that had a ton of questions surrounding them coming into the 2019 season.
What has been most impressive about this team through the first month of the season, has been the average play of Jimmy G. 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo has just 739 yards with 5 touchdowns and 4 interceptions through the first month of the season. That is a disappointing start for him considering how good I believe him to be.
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Even with the average play of Jimmy G, the 49ers are still a top-10 offense. The passing game might be average thus far, but the two headed monster of Matt Breida and Raheem Mostert running the football has been effective against opposing defenses. Those two running backs combined with weapons like TE George Kittle, among others, put this team in a position to start the year 4-0 for the first time in a while.
But the defense has been the story for this team so far. I didn’t see any prognosticators waxing poetic about how the San Francisco 49ers would have a top-three defense this season. Will it hold up? Probably not; I don’t think they will finish the season second in DVOA. That is a really tough ask. They don’t have to, though. If Garoppolo can put the issues he has had this season behind him, all they need is a top-10 defense to go on a run. Will we see the 49ers make the playoffs?
Browns vs. 49ers prediction
The eyes of the sports world will be on this game this week. The entire country has fallen in love with the Browns because they love an underdog story, and they think this team is better than I do.
When they are watching this game, the lovable loser they should be focused on is the 49ers. Do they have all the big names, and the flashy sophomore quarterback? No, they don’t. What they do have, is an exceptional head coach and a team full of names that you might not know are uber talented. I think everyone is sleeping on this team.
I picked them to make the playoffs before the season started and, in order for them to do that, they win games like this one on Monday night.
NFL pick: San Francisco 49ers -4 @ -105