49ers have twice as good a chance to get a first round bye in the NFC playoffs last season as in 2020. With the postseason expanded to include additional teams at each conference, only seed No. NFC and AFC will get the first week of the playoffs.
San Francisco is seed No. 1 on NFC last season, so it will still have the first round bye under the new arrangement. But if 49ers want that title – and get benefits – again, some games will be activated their 2020 schedule will carry more weight than the others.
With that in mind, here are the five most important matches in the 49ers schedule in terms of their chances of winning seed No. 1 at the conference.
Week 1 vs Arizona Cardinals
NFL history has not been good for the team that lost the Super Bowl the previous season. If 49ers want to fight that trend, it’s very important they start off with a good start. Their schedule is well organized in that regard, because people can argue three of their four easiest matches in the first five weeks.
Week 1 against the Cardinals not one of those games.
Arizona must be further improved in 2020, and don’t forget, the Cardinals pushed 49ers to the edge at their second meeting last season. Kyler Murray is no longer a beginner, and now he has DeAndre Hopkins. This is a cunning and challenging game for San Francisco, which can set the tone for the rest of the season.
Week 4 vs Philadelphia Eagles
In first of five prime-time games on their 2020 schedule, 49ers will host Eagles at Levi’s Stadium on Week 4. San Francisco will come from consecutive weeks playing on the East Coast – against lower opponents – potentially making 49ers vulnerable to disappointment. This is also the first of three consecutive home games for San Francisco, which means the 49ers have a good chance of collecting consecutive wins at the start of the year.
The Eagles are the toughest team San Francisco will face during those three matches, and Doug Peterson is one of the more creative callers in the league. Assuming the two teams entered the game healthy, 49ers are almost certainly favored, but Philadelphia has weapons on both sides of the ball to cause problems for San Francisco. Maybe the Eagles will be the most talented team 49ers face in the first half of their season.
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Week 8 at Seattle Seahawks
If the Eagles were not the 49th most talented opponent in the first round, then that might be the Seahawks. As for why this is important, well, it’s the same old story.
The forms of San Francisco and Seattle are arguably the best competition in the modern NFL. To be the No. At 1 conference, 49ers must first win their own division.
Last year, they won – within inches – in Seattle for Western NFC. The same thing might be needed in 2020.
Week 10 at New Orleans Saints
Yes, 49ers will host Green Bay Packers on a short week on Week 10, but the two matches that booked the match seem far more likely to determine San Francisco’s place in the conference hierarchy. Like the Seahawks, the Saints have the superiority of the marvelous home field. And, like the Seahawks, the Saints were defeated by 49ers at their home last season.
Although New Orleans stumbled in the playoffs, Saints was the top 49ers competition in NFC last season, and it seems to be once again. They are considered the two favorites to represent NFC in the Super Bowl LV, and their Week 10 fight might determine which of them.
Although it’s clearly not ideal for San Francisco to play in New Orleans for the second season in a row, one can argue that the schedule is much better for 49ers this time. Last year, they lost their tiring road to the Baltimore Ravens before winning the thriller in New Orleans. This season, 49ers will come out of an extended 10-day break between matches, while the Saints will come from a slightly short week, having just played a road game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on “Sunday Night Football.”
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Week 15 at Dallas Cowboys
Could this be the best competition year of the 90s revived?
49ers are stacked. Cowboys has one of the best rosters, from top to bottom, throughout the NFL. Both teams will likely rank among the league’s top offenses, and assuming they perform as expected, their quarterback must be in the running for MVP.
Time and time again, Dallas has become the most talented team in NFC East, only in its own way and underperforming. Something about this year feels different. Cowboys absolutely no reason not to become the dominant team in 2020, which could give 49ers and Saints a run of their money above NFC.
If Cowboy doesn’t throw himself out of the nomination for seed No. 1, 49ers might have to handle it themselves.
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