Congratulations, football fans, you’ve made it to the halfway point of what’s been a very strange season so far. The Philadelphia Eagles — yes, the same Eagles who missed the playoffs at 7-9 last year — are 8-1, on a seven-game winning streak and atop the NFC East division. Quarterback Carson Wentz is a total beast this season, and the Eagles have also bolstered their running game with a trade for former Miami Dolphin Jay Ajayi. In the AFC, the Kansas City Chiefs are riding high, too — 6-3 and atop their division. However, things in the Bay Area are not quite as rosy.
The 49ers are stumbling their way through the season, winless at 0-9. Of those nine losses, they have succumbed to two drubbings. In Week 7 they suffered a 40-10 loss at the hands of the Dallas Cowboys and in Week 8, they took an L against the aforementioned Eagles, this time at 33-10. The Niners rank 29th out of 32 NFL teams in points per game, 24th in offensive yards and second-to-last in passer rating. For those who don’t know, passer rating is an attempt to quantify how good a quarterback is. The maximum rating is 158.3, and the highest so far this season is the Kansas City Chiefs’ Alex Smith at 113.3. The 49ers’ defense also leaves much to be desired, ranked second-to-last in points allowed and 28th in yards allowed per game.
The 49ers quarterback corps of C.J. Beathard and Brian Hoyer have vastly underperformed, prompting a trade with the New England Patriots for their backup quarterback, Jimmy Garoppolo and the release of Hoyer. The 49ers gave up a second-round draft pick for a quarterback who had mostly seen action during Tom Brady’s four-game Deflategate suspension. While this is certainly a step in the right direction, the 49ers’ problems only begin with the quarterbacks, and this feels a little bit “too little, too late.” Garoppolo is definitely better than Beathard and Hoyer — for starters he doesn’t hand out interceptions — but the Niners have some serious problems that did not get addressed at the deadline. To call the offensive line Swiss cheese is insulting to Swiss cheese. The one positive player on the receiving squad, Pierre Garçon, is headed to injured reserve and an early end to his season. 0-16 is a definite possibility.
Across the Bay, the Raiders’ injuries have ravaged an already-thin team. With Derek Carr coming off a fractured back, the Raiders find themselves at 4-5, good enough for second in the AFC West but not good enough for a playoff spot. This was supposed to be the Raiders’ year, so what happened?
If you had to peg it on one thing, it would probably be the defense; however, at the same time, the offense is average at best (ranking 20th in points, 20th in total yards and 15th in pass yards). The defense is allowing nearly 357 yards per game, which is only slightly better than the 0-9 49ers. In years past, the Raiders could compensate for their defense with a lethal aerial attack — Derek Carr and wide receiver Amari Cooper could make any defense look silly, but with Carr’s injury woes and disappointing defensive performance, the Raiders need to find a way to overcome their issues. Also, the Raiders’ running backs are mediocre. Bay Area favorite Marshawn Lynch has been so-so — running for only 323 yards on 86 attempts, an average of just under four yards a carry. While the 49ers dealt for Jimmy Garoppolo, the Raiders elected to stand pat at the trading deadline, hoping their guys can get it together sooner rather than later.
The 49ers should probably give up on this season and look towards the 2018 Draft, despite just giving up a second-round pick that will probably fall in the early stages of the round. The Raiders are trapped in a sea of uncertainty, not only as a team but as a franchise. The team’s impending move to Las Vegas has created a strange dynamic between owner Mark Davis, general manager Reggie McKenzie and the most rabid fans in football. At least the Warriors have a good thing going and the Dodgers choked their way out of a World Series victory.
Featured Photo: Hyde (28) celebrates with George Kittle (85 – hidden number), and Laken Tomlinson (75) after scoring a touchdown Keith Allison/Flickr