A second consecutive primetime showdown at home for New England, as San Francisco comes in to play what has become an extremely important game for both teams. On Monday, it was the Patriots’ destroying the Texans to keep their #1 seed hopes alive. Tonight, the Patriots still need to stay ahead of Denver and within striking distance of Houston. The 49ers, meanwhile, are being chased by Seattle, and a loss sets up a showdown game in Seattle next week for the NFC West. A win gives them the luxury of losing next week and still holding off Seattle.
New England has had a lead of more than a touchdown in the fourth quarter in every game since week 2 against Arizona. San Francisco can expect creative blitz packages to test Colin Kaepernick, though I think the Patriots will also want to give a variety of looks to the young quarterback so he can’t just make plays with his strong arm against clear man coverages. Strength on strength on the other side, where the Patriots continue to roll on offense, but will be challenged by the San Francisco defensive front. Aldon Smith will look to move closer to Michael Strahan in another primetime showcase.
[photo via USA Today Sports Images]