San Francisco 49ers and New England Patriots with points to prove...


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The seventh week of the NFL on Sky Sports features a duel between the undefeated Steelers and Titans, Jimmy G’s return to New England, and an X-Factor quarterback bout in Arizona

The seventh week of the NFL on Sky Sports features a duel between the undefeated Steelers and Titans, Jimmy G’s return to New England, and an X-Factor quarterback bout in Arizona

The San Francisco 49ers travel to New England on Sunday to play a matchup that was on many people’s preseason calendars.

Two of the largest franchises in NFL history – one with a record six Super Bowl titles, the other with five and a seventh in February.

But both teams have stumbled a bit out of the box this season, with the Patriots losing twice in a row to fall back to 2-3, and San Francisco 3-3 apparently still having a hangover from that 31:20 loss to them Chiefs did in Miami earlier this year.

Injury issues and Covid concerns

However, the 49ers suffer from far more than just headaches. The preseason slump can largely be explained by a number of injuries, with 2019 defensive rookie Nick Bosa (out for the season) the most notable absentee.

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All around the NFL, Dan Hanzus has described the 49ers’ injuries as “devastating”.

All around the NFL, Dan Hanzus has described the 49ers’ injuries as “devastating”.

People like Solomon Thomas, Richard Sherman, Dee Ford, Raheem Mostert, and Jimmy Garoppolo have all too missed time, or in some cases continue to do so. Garoppolo is back now, at least, and after a decidedly tough return in the fifth week (43:17) against the Dolphins, he and the team were significantly better at beating the Rams by 24:16 last Sunday night.

The patriots were also very lucky despite dealing with coronaviruses. They had to deal with multiple schedule changes and tons of team exercises that have been lost in the past three weeks since quarterback Cam Newton tested positive.

Cam and the offense just seemed to click; There were wins over the Dolphins and the Raiders on either side of a 35:30 loss to the undefeated Seahawks, in which their new quarterback undoubtedly had his best game – 397 yards passing and a TD plus two rushing scores – and almost won it on death, only to be stopped just before the goal line.

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The Seattle defense brings Patriots quarterback Cam Newton into the backcourt to win the game in the final seconds

The Seattle defense puts Patriots quarterback Cam Newton in the backcourt to win the game in the final seconds

The hiatus since then has resulted in the Patriots dropping games against the Chiefs and, surprisingly, the Broncos for the first time since 2001 in this phase of the season.

And Cam is in no mood to apologize. “For us as a criminal offense, we know that our basket of excuses is getting very tight,” he told reporters this week.

“I just wasn’t good. I haven’t put together enough good games for my taste. I know what I am capable of. My personal standard is extremely high and I have not met it. ”

The good news for Pats fans: After starting 2-3 in 2001, New England won the first of its six Vince Lombardy trophies.

Leave the past behind

Chris Jones attacks Garoppolo during the Niner Super Bowl LIV loss in February

Chris Jones attacks Garoppolo during the Niner Super Bowl LIV loss in February

Chris Jones attacks Garoppolo during the Niner Super Bowl LIV loss in February

Easier said than done, but the Patriots cannot grapple with that turn of 2001, or their next two decades of success.

Bill Belichick won’t let her.

Since Belichick set a 5-11 record in his first season as head coach in 2000, he has never returned a loss record, while the Pats only failed the playoffs twice during his tenure. The last of those absences came in 2008 when he didn’t have Tom Brady at the quarterback.

Remarkably, with Brady injured early in the season, Belichick managed to pull an 11-5 tune out of his backup QB Matt Cassell. Equally unbelievable is the fact that the record didn’t win them the division or get them a place on the wild card.

The only other case that New England missed the playoffs under Belichick’s watch was when they suffered from a hangover themselves in 2002.

It’s a very real problem for the 49ers. Since 2000, nine lost Super Bowl finalists have failed the playoffs the following season, seven have lost their records.

If the Niners are to avoid being just another addition to this list, they have to get it out of their thoughts and focus and what is immediately ahead, the Patriots’ challenge this weekend.

Jimmy G’s return

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Relive some of Jimmy Garoppolo’s best throws when the 49ers defeated the Rams in the NFL last week

Relive some of Jimmy Garoppolo’s best throws when the 49ers defeated the Rams in the NFL last week

And the matchup is especially noteworthy especially for a man. It’s Jimmy Garoppolo’s first game at Foxborough since the previous Brady backup traded in San Francisco in October 2017.

So the story goes that if Belichick had their way, Garoppolo would walk out of the home team’s dressing room this Sunday.

The Patriots coach, it is said, was dying to leave Brady before his later flight to Tampa Bay this off-season. Belichick was reportedly ready to hand the reins to Jimmy G, knowing he risked losing him elsewhere and should begin rebuilding.

But team owner Robert Kraft ultimately pulled the rank, kept Brady on his side, and they would return to the Super Bowl and win a sixth ring for successive years under the seasoned caller.

Garoppolo (L) had received the tip to replace Tom Brady (R) in New England

Garoppolo (L) had received the tip to replace Tom Brady (R) in New England

Garoppolo (L) had received the tip to replace Tom Brady (R) in New England

Garoppolo has since been shipped to San Francisco, and while he still misses such cutlery, it has also proven to be a fruitful couple of years.

Jimmy G won over fans for the first time with a 5-0 win through 2017 to erase memories of the ugly 1:10 record that preceded him and bring him a big deal. A torn ACL destroyed his and the team’s in 2018, but everything clicked in 2019.

In his first full season as a starter, Garoppolo led the team all the way to the Super Bowl, throwing for 3,978 and 27 TDs, though they ultimately narrowed down against Kansas City, with Garoppolo in particular causing some criticism for his fourth-quarter game when they were ahead of 20-10 late.

After a dubious start to the season, there are still some question marks left over the 49ers QB, but it will silence the doubters if it hits the very man on the other side who first believed in it.

“It will be cool to go back to the old stomping ground and see some familiar faces,” Garoppolo said before returning home.

Shanahan versus Belichick

49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan is one of the leading attackers in the NFL

49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan is one of the leading attackers in the NFL

49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan is one of the leading attackers in the NFL

Speaking of Belichick, this game is also a real meeting of the heads in the coaching department, as the wise old defensive guru in Kyle Shanahan takes on arguably the leading offensive spirit of the league.

Pro football talkChris Simms is exciting to see the two head coaches go head to toe for the first time and say, “We know the Shanahan running pattern, it’s as creative as it gets in football, and Belichick has its great secondary school, but not . “Many run-stoppers. ”

The Patriots have allowed 22 points per game so far this season which, if they continued at the same pace, would represent most in the Belichick era.

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49er receiver Deebo Samuel had a 35 meter run when he refused to face the Rams

49er receiver Deebo Samuel had a 35 meter run when he refused to face the Rams

“What is he going to do to slow this 49er crime?” Added Simms. “The Patriots stagger a little while it looks like the 49ers are getting well and straightening the ship a little.

“I can’t wait to see the game of chess between these two guys. It is one with a lot of importance. ”

Contender or Pretender?

This game is very important indeed, even so early in the season.

For any team that loses, it’s the fourth setback this season that leaves very little margin for error in the rest. A 10-6 record will likely be good enough for the playoffs, especially with a # 7 starting slot added to each conference starting this season, but 9-7 may not.

The 49ers’ schedule in particular is entering a particularly brutal phase. For the next five weeks we read @ Seahawks versus Packers, @ Saints, @ Rams versus Bills – all of them are very heavily represented in the playoff mix.

Your job is made even more difficult by the strength of NFC West this season, the only division in the NFL that doesn’t have a team under .500.

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49ers receiver Brandon Aiyuk finished a 38-yard touchdown run with an epic hurdle into the end zone

49ers receiver Brandon Aiyuk finished a 38-yard touchdown run with an epic hurdle into the end zone

As for the Patriots, Belichick knows better than to panic at this stage of the season, and New England have been written off earlier, but AFC East are stronger this year too and a consecutive loss would hardly be ideal Preparation An eight week showdown with current leader Buffalo, who could be three games ahead on his home turf.

The up-and-coming Dolphins, now led by rookie quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, may also tarnish the waters this season. However, it remains to be seen whether he can get the 3-3 team into the playoffs.

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Brian Baldinger and Rob Ryan respond to news in Miami that rookie quarterback Tua Tagovailoa has been named as the starter for the Dolphins

Brian Baldinger and Rob Ryan respond to news in Miami that rookie quarterback Tua Tagovailoa has been named as the starter for the Dolphins

“The silver lining for Patriot fans is that they can still find out and bring that together” Pro football talkMike Florio said this week.

“Stick to 500 until Thanksgiving and then let Belichick do his thing in December – until then, remove people from the COVID-19 list – I’m still not ready to give up on the patriots.

“The worst thing you can do is assume they’ll be ready by 2-3.”

The seasons of the 49ers and Patriots will certainly not be decided on Sunday night, but the result will go a long way in determining whether they are contenders or pretenders in 2020.

Watch the 49ers @ Patriots live on Sky Sports NFL on Sunday from 8:25 p.m.

Sky Sports NFL is your dedicated channel for all season NFL coverage – with a variety of NFL Network programming, a new weekly preview show, at least five games per week and NFL Redzone, you won’t miss a moment. Don’t forget to follow us on skysports.com/nfl, our Twitter account @SkySportsNFL & Sky Sports – on the go!

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