The San Francisco 49ers visit Foxboro on Sunday afternoon to do battle against Bill Belichick and his New England Patriots. These two teams are vastly different than the squads that would have met last season.
The change for New England is obvious, the best quarterback to ever play the game is now working in the backfield for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. As for the 49ers, last year they were riding high and on the way to Super Bowl LIV.
It is worth noting that all of Belichick’s Hall of Fame credentials as a head coach were established while Tom Brady was running his offense.
Might Belichick be subject to the same decline that Mike Shanahan suffered when he no longer had John Elway as his triggerman in Denver? With Elway, the Broncos head coach won back-to-back Super Bowls. Without him, he coached 14 more seasons, ten in Denver and four with the Washington Redskins, and only had a single postseason win to show for his efforts.
But, come on, this is Belichick.
Is he really that reliant on Brady for success?
So far, this season, he has no evidence to the contrary. With Brady, the Patriots turned a one game losing streak into a win in 39 of 50 chances while compiling a point spread record in those 50 games of 34-16. Of the 11 games he lost to create a two game losing streak, Brady and Belichick were 10-1 straight up and 8-3 versus the spread while all but once avoiding a three game losing streak.
This week, when the Patriots entertain the 49ers, they come into the contest having lost their two previous decisions.
Certain doom for the 49ers?
Maybe not based on those stats, but more likely based on the 49ers trend coming into this East Coast showdown.
San Francisco is suffering a common dip for the team that lost the prior season’s Super Bowl. They lost their home opener to the up and coming Arizona Cardinals, and only had two wins through the first month of the season gained against a pair of New York teams, the Giants and Jets, who have only one win in 13 starts between them.
A week ago, talk was of the problems the Niners have because of a series of injuries that sidelined key players on both sides of the ball. Most notably, defensive stud Nick Bosa, who is out of the season. Quarterback Jimmy Garopollo also missed some action after being injured in New York during a second week win over the New York Jets. When he returned to action still showing the effects of a high ankle sprain two weeks ago, he played horrible and was benched for the second half during a lopsided loss to the Miami Dolphins which followed a disappointing home defeat to the struggling Philadelphia Eagles.
With that as a backdrop, you can understand why few gave them much of a chance to beat the resurgent Los Angeles Rams last Sunday night while still looking for their first home win in a fourth attempt.
The Rams had suffered the post Super Bowl loss doldrums the season before, and were now considered once again among the real Super Bowl contenders.
But, the 49rs saved their season and 2020 prospects for defending their NFC Conference crown with a home win over Los Angeles, 24-16.
Okay, here is what we’ve got here. A 49ers team that won last week in a perfect motivational spot at home and now headed for a horrible spot on the road against a Patriots team certain to be at the top of their game to avoid a rare three game losing streak.
Belichick doesn’t have Brady, but in this spot, he doesn’t need him.
Qoxhi Picks: New England Patriots (-3) over San Francisco 49ers