The 2014 NFL schedule was released on Wednesday night. We all knew who each team was playing and where. What we didn’t know was the bye weeks, which days/nights each game would be on, and which teams would be running a gauntlet all year rather than a walk in the park. The San Francisco 49ers don’t seem to have it too bad.
Just looking at their schedule (remember, the draft hasn’t happened yet so a lot can change), I see them going somewhere in the range of 12-4 again. Being in the NFC West, 12-4 might not win the division again. In their division, I see them losing to either the St. Louis Rams or the Arizona Cardinals on the road and losing to the Seattle Seahawks on the road. All three of their division home games should be wins as well.
Going out of the division, their road games are against the Dallas Cowboys, Denver Broncos, New Orleans Saints, New York Giants and Oakland Raiders. I see them losing one, maybe two, out of that group. Their out of division home games are against the Chicago Bears, Philadelphia Eagles, Kansas City Chiefs, Washington Redskins and the San Diego Chargers. I also see them only losing one, maybe two, out of those games.
The key games to watch will definitely be both games against the Seahawks, but particularly the one on Thanksgiving night as that one will be the one that could start to separate the two teams in the later part of the season.
The game against the Raiders is a game to watch because it is right between the two Seattle games and could very well be a trap game. They close out the regular season again with the Cardinals and that game could have the same implications it did this past season.
It will most likely be a factor in deciding home field advantage for someone and possibly knocking someone out of the playoffs all together. As of right now, the 49ers are scheduled to play a total of four night games, but look for that to change because Sunday Night Football will probably flex them at some point.
All in all, the 49ers have a favorable schedule. Their biggest test will be, without question, the three week stretch in which they play Seattle twice. Those three weeks could very well decide which team wins the NFC West.