Friday, October 9, 2009

Weekend Previews

Both Bay Area football squads have tough assignments this weekend. The Niners will play host to the Atlanta Falcons, a playoff team from 2008 and a solid all-around bunch, while the Raiders travel across the county to New York to take on the Giants, the class of the NFC.

49ers vs. Falcons

The Niners will once again be without their horse and their number one offensive threat, Frank Gore, when they take on Atlanta this weekend. Glen Coffee will get the start and he needs to be much better than he was against St. Louis last week when he averaged just 3.4 ypc. The Niners will need him up over the 4.0 mark if they're going to have hope of keeping the pass rush off of Shaun Hill and getting any kind of running attack established... That said, I really like the way Hill is throwing the ball right now (4 td's/1 int, 97.8 QBRat last 2 weeks) and I think Sunday would be a good time to open up the playbook a little. Again, Vernon Davis needs to be a focal point of the passing attack, as he's showed what he's capable of over the last couple of games as well (3 td's, 70 ypg.)... The real test though, will lie with the defensive unit, as they'll face an offense very similar to the Vikings, which gave the Niners their only loss of the season to this point. I think they'll do a decent job up front with Michael Turner, but I'm a little worried about Matt Ryan picking them apart if he's given too much time in the pocket. The Falcons have the weapons at reciever and tight-end to give the Niners some problems if Ryan gets time, so the major key on defense will be getting to Matt Ryan. If the Niners hold Turner to a sub-80 yard day and force Ryan to turn the ball over a few times, they should take control of the game, but they're going to need another strong defensive effort this week. The Niners are at home and coming off a very impressive defensive shutout last week, and I think they'll ride the momentum to another W this Sunday in a tight one, 23-21.

Raiders vs. Giants

The Raiders are entering a much less promising situation in the Meadowlands, where they will need a virtual miracle to pull off the upset in the battle of two teams on opposite ends of the NFL Power Rankings list. JaMarcus Russell's confidence is likely at an all-time low coming, as he's averaged just 126 yards and a 39% completion rating through the first quarter of the season. If the Raiders hope to get any kind of offensive cohesion going in this one, they'll need Russell to make some plays early on in the game to get his confidence going. The Raiders are scaring nobody with their passing attack right now, so expect the Giants to focus on the run and keep 7-8 guys up in the box at all times. The Silver and Black will also be without starting running back Darren McFadden, who's also dissapointed mightily this season, so it will be on Michael Bush and Justin Fargas' shoulders to get the running game going. There's still a slight chance that Eli Manning misses Sunday's game, though not likely, but even in that case, the Raiders would still have an extremely tough time with the Giants in New York, Giants win 31-13.

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