After looking at the 49ers 2007 schedule against the spread, I thought I'd look at the 49ers 2008 schedule and try and predict which games they'd be favorites and which games they'd be underdogs. If I list them as a slight dog or favorite, I'm thinking the spread will be 3 points or less. A heavy dog or favorite would be a spread of 9 or more points (because it's now more than one possession). In 2007 the 49ers were favorites once and underdogs the remaining 15 games, which shouldn't come as too big a surprise.
Week 1 - vs. Arizona: Slight Underdog - As a home team you automatically get 3 points. Once again, Arizona is a chic pick to do well. While I think the 49ers can win this game, I definitely think the spread on this is no more than a point or two.
Week 2 - @ Seattle: Heavy Underdog - Seattle was only a 1.5 favorite at San Francisco early last season, but by their week 10 matchup in Seattle, the Seahawks were a 10.5 favorite. Even if the 49ers beat Arizona, it's too early for them to make a dent in a potentially large spread (barring injuries).
Week 3 - vs. Detroit: Favorite - Both teams have the same 80-1 Super Bowl odds and while Detroit is coming off a better 7-9 season, I think the 49ers come in as a 4 or so point favorite. The 49ers are the home team and hopefully will be at worst 1-1 and coming off a respectable effort in Seattle.
Week 4 - @ New Orleans: Underdog - The Saints have had their way with the 49ers the last couple of years. The Saints open against 2 playoff teams and a 7-9 Broncos squad that is always frisky. If they open 2-1 or 3-0 this could move to heavy underdog status.
Week 5 - vs. New England: Heavy Underdog - Home game or not, there is no doubt in my mind the 49ers open as heavy dogs. The only way they don't is if they open the season 3-1 or 4-0 and the Patriots are 0-4 or 1-3.
Week 6 - vs. Philadelphia: Underdog - The Eagles are one of those teams that have enough skill position players that people think they're better than they are. I think they're a solid team, thus a slightly bigger spread, but I also think this is an eminently winnable game for the 49ers.
Week 7 - @ NY Giants: Underdog - The Giants had their way with the 49ers last season and are the defending champs. I'm curious how the letdown factor plays in. I think this one is definitely closer to heavy dog, than slight dog.
Week 8 - vs. Seattle: Slight Underdog - This is definitely a homer pick as I think the 49ers are playing well enough to be considered within shouting distance of the Seahawks. If the 49ers were 3-4 at this point I'd be pleased and I'm basing this prediction on them actually being 3-4 or better. Let's hope I'm not wrong.
Week 10 - @ Arizona: Underdog - If the Cardinals have sunk to below expectations this could drop to slight underdog. If Arizona is meeting expectations and has a shot at the division title I'd say this is around a touchdown spread, give or take a point or two.
Week 11 - vs. St. Louis: Favorite - The Rams and 49ers are predicted to be battling for the cellar. The 49ers won at St. Louis and lost at home so we'll see how things play out in 2008. If the Rams defense could get their act together and Pace can stay healthy, I think the Rams will be better than people think.
Week 12 - @ Dallas: Heavy Underdog - The Cowboys are a very good team and I'd be shocked if this wasn't a double digit spread. I'd certainly love to see the 49ers pull the upset, but I'm not marking this one down as even a potential W.
Week 13 - @ Buffalo: Underdog - This depends in part on the continued maturation of Trent Edwards. I could definitely see the Bills making the leap form 7-9 to 10-6. The Bills had a decent enough defense and if their offense can taking things to the next level they can make that leap.
Week 14 - vs. NY Jets: Slight Favorite - The Jets are a team that are hard to preview. They have all sorts of question marks, but if they get some answers they could be decent (although not a playoff team). Will Pennington or Clemens step up or will it remain some kind of nebulous limbo?
Week 15 - @ Miami: Favorite - It may be a road game, but anytime your starting QB is Josh McCown, John Beck or Chad Henne, you don't deserve to be favored against anybody. The Big Tuna is doing what he can to turn thing around, but they've got their work cut out for them. This is definitely a must win for the 49ers.
Week 16 - @ St. Louis: Slight Favorite - We'd all like the 49ers to be contending at this point, or at least at a respectable level. With a couple minor upsets, the 49ers could be 7-7 at this point. If that were the case, I think they go into St. Louis favored by a couple points.
Week 17 - vs. Washington: Underdog - While it was kind of odd for them to go so heavy on offense in the draft, I really like what the Redskins did. Jason Campbell has more than enough weapons to make thing happen. Combined with an already solid defense and they're definitely a playoff contender. I think the Redskins are favored by between 5 and 7 points. However, if the 49ers wanted to make the playoffs in 2008, this is a game they would have to win.
So after adding it all up, I've got the 49ers as underdogs in 11 games and favorites in 5 games. Of course the problem with this kind of prediction is that each week's spread is based in part on their performance up to that point. So, if the 49ers start out hot and look impressive, some of those underdogs might move to slight and some of those slight dogs move to even or slight favorites.