Yesterday, I pointed out that the 49ers had climbed to the top of Football Outsiders' DVOA efficiency ratings through five weeks. Their performances the last two weeks have been so strong that they have helped the 49ers climb far ahead of the No. 2 Houston Texans. At this point, the 49ers are further ahead of No. 2 Houston than the Texans are ahead of No. 10 Seattle.
As great as that is, the 49ers face challenges the rest of the season. Through the first five games, the 49ers had the No. 15 schedule. The Bills and Jets rank No. 26 and No. 28, so that did not help matters. However, moving forward the 49ers face the sixth most difficult schedule, based on current ratings.
If you look through the DVOA ratings, the 49ers remaining eleven games include ten against teams in the top 14. Here are the rankings of the 49ers remaining opponents, based on DVOA:
Chicago Bears - No. 3
New England Patriots - No. 5
New York Giants - No. 8
Seattle Seahawks (twice) - No. 10
Miami Dolphins - No. 12
St. Louis Rams (twice) - No. 13
Arizona Cardinals (twice) - No. 14
New Orleans Saints - No. 24
The difficult schedule is due to a dramatically improved NFC West, and the Miami Dolphins looking a lot more competent than many of us would have thought in August. These ratings will change in the coming weeks, so this strength of schedule will change in the coming weeks.