The 49ers might be more dangerous than the Patriots

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October 15th, 2019

Week 6 of the NFL schedule was full of surprises. Here are the five lessons we learned after watching film and crunching data.

49ers might be more formidable than the Patriots

It’s never a good idea to bet against Bill Belichick in the postseason, but so far in the 2019 regular season, the Patriots have looked more vulnerable with each passing week. The New England defense is still the best in the league and gives up just eight points per game on average, but the offense is floundering, at least partially because of injuries.

The larger issue, though, is the lack of chemistry between quarterback Tom Brady and his receivers not named Julian Edelman. Until the Patriots can sync up on offense, New England will continue to depend on its defense to keep it in games.

The other undefeated team remaining, San Francisco, continues to show it is a force on offense and defense. The 49ers rank fourth in total yards per game (408), second in total defense (237.4) and second in average rushing yards (179.8).

The 49ers look like the more complete team and finally earned two noteworthy victories over the Browns and Rams to prove their record isn’t just a result of a weak early schedule.

Two of the best offenses in the league are in deep trouble

The Chiefs and Cowboys got off to a hot start, and it looked like both could contend for a Super Bowl in 2019. In Week 4, however, Kansas City narrowly escaped the Detroit Lions on the road, 34-30, then fell to the Colts and Texans, as Patrick Mahomes struggled to complete passes or score with ease.

The Cowboys had worse luck, as they suffered a two-point defeat to the Saints on the road. Then came losses to Green Bay and the winless New York Jets, who opened up an 18-point lead at one point.

The Chiefs still rank first in passing yards per game (339.3) and No. 3 in total yardage, but defenses are learning how to fluster an injured Mahomes, and the Chiefs defense (27th in the league) hasn’t figured out how to stop anyone.

The Cowboys boast the No. 2 offense but can’t translate that into enough points. In the last two games, Dallas has started off slow and allowed its opposition to jump out to a massive lead. The Packers entered halftime up 17-0, and the Jets ended the second quarter on top, 21-6.

Whatever is happening in Kansas City and Dallas, they need to figure it out fast, because the schedule is even more difficult from here.

The Chargers need to flee Los Angeles

It’s clear the Chargers’ move from San Diego to L.A. has been a disaster so far. The Bolts have struggled to draw, and opposing fan bases often have accounted for a large portion of their home crowds.

At least the Chargers had a 12-win season going for them in 2018, despite a lack of fan support, but their 2-4 record to start 2019 won’t inspire anyone in L.A. to purchase a ticket to Dignity Health Sports Park.

Sunday night’s loss against the Steelers was the perfect example of how atrocious the Chargers’ experience has been in Los Angeles. Pittsburgh’s fans overtook the stadium and cheered so loudly that the Chargers had to use a silent count on their home field.

Then came the gaffe by the stadium sound crew, which played “Renegade” by Styx, a song regularly featured at Steelers home games. The song was meant to be a joke, as the classic rock anthem quickly flipped to Rick Astley’s “Never Gonna Give You Up” in an attempt to “Rick Roll” the Steelers fans.

However, with Pittsburgh already holding a lead, it only added fuel to the fire the Steelers fans had stoked in Los Angeles. Chargers players, such as Melvin Gordon and offensive lineman Forrest Lamp, spoke out in frustration over the decision to play the song and how it worsened team morale.

It’s going to be a long season for the Chargers, no matter where they play.

It’s time for Jameis Winston to take a seat

Early Sunday morning in London, Jameis Winston squared off with division nemesis Carolina, with hopes of pulling off another win in their second meeting of the season. The Buccaneers defeated the Panthers 20-14 in Week 2, in a game where Winston threw one touchdown and no interceptions in his second-best performance of 2019.

Sunday’s rematch was a far cry from that effort, as Winston completed 55.6% of his passes and tossed one touchdown to five interceptions. He also got sacked seven times and finished with a 10.0 QBR.

Through Week 6 Winston has thrown 12 touchdowns, 10 interceptions and is completing 60% of his passes. Dating back to 2015, when Tampa Bay drafted Winston with the No. 1 overall pick, the Florida State product has led the Bucs to one winning season and owns a 61.9 career completion percentage and 1.47 touchdown-to-interception ratio.

It's time for someone else to guide the Bucs offense, but for now the only option is backup Ryan Griffin, a six-year veteran who hasn't thrown a pass in a regular-season NFL game. Expect Tampa Bay to reload at quarterback either in next year’s draft or via free agency.

Something must be done about NFL officiating

Week 6 wasn’t the first case of controversial officiating. The Saints (who else?) experienced that in Week 2 against the Rams (of course) in the rematch of the NFC Championship Game marred by a controversial no-call that cost New Orleans a Super Bowl appearance.

On prime-time television Monday night, NFL officials demonstrated once more that they cannot be trusted. In a clash the Lions should have won, Green Bay was able to fight back to claim a one-point victory and was aided by poor officiating.

Lions defensive end Trey Flowers had never committed a hands-to-the-face penalty in five years in the NFL, but he was called for it twice Monday, and both times it was not warranted. One penalty turned a fourth-and-21 into a first down, which resulted in a Packers touchdown. The other occurred on third-and-4 with 1:45 remaining and gave the Packers a first down. That allowed them to run out the clock and kick a game-winning field goal.

On top of that, officials ruled Allen Lazard’s 35-yard reception a touchdown even though video evidence showed he was down before he broke the plane of the goal line. Then referees missed obvious pass interference by Packers cornerback Will Redmond that would’ve granted the Lions more than 30 yards of field position with a 22-20 lead in the fourth quarter.

It wasn’t just one call that cost the Lions a division win over the NFC North leader. It was several, and that just can’t happen in the NFL.

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