The San Francisco 49ers travel to Washington this week for their second to last prime time game of the season (the last being Monday Night Football against the Atlanta Falcons). The line for this game opened with the 49ers as four point favorites, and it has already climbed up to five points.
Washington is talented, but they have taken a noticeable step backward this season. Even with Robert Griffin III coming off his knee injury, they entered the season as a favorite in the NFC East. Of course, his absence from the preseason did not help matters, and there was clearly rust as the season started. Washington struggled to an 0-3 start, and have yet to win back-to-back games. They currently sit at 3-7.
The 49ers have advantages across the board, but their biggest advantage might come in special teams. Football Outsiders ranks Washington dead-last overall in special teams. They rank them 31st in punting, 28th in kicking, 30th in punt returns and 26th in kick returns. The 49ers offense has been scuffling, but if they can take firm control of field position, they would hopefully be able to take advantage.
This is a very winnable game for the 49ers, and really it is just a matter of returning to basics. We'd like to see the passing game open up and the team get back into the sync we saw late last season. However, given Washington's defensive struggles across the board, the power rushing attack would hopefully do the trick. Of course, we saw the Saints stick eight men in the box much of the time, so it is entirely possible Washington will try that one. At this point, there's no reason not to stick eight men in the box and dare Colin Kaepernick to beat you.