Since the 49ers have a bye this week, we as fans get a chance to concentrate on other matchups today. Normally when the 49ers are playing I'll be watching the earlier games, but really half the time I'm pondering the 49ers game. Today gives all of us a chance to take our own sort of bye week and just enjoy football for football's sake.
Of course, we still do have some particularized rooting interests today. In fact, there are two particular matchups today that 49ers fans should pay close attention to. As the title of this game day thread indicates, that first matchup is the 10am pacific game between the Carolina Panthers and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Although they've only won one game, one could argue the Panthers have some good momentum down in Florida today. They staged a solid comeback against the Redskins last week. Had they lose that game, I think the floor would have officially dropped out on how bad this season could have gone for the Panthers. Instead, they've salvaged things for the short term.
The other match-up worth checking out is the afternoon game between the Arizona Cardinals and the Seattle Seahawks. First off there is the chance for some offensive fireworks. Seattle has Hasselbeck back and the Cardinals are of course always capable of big things on offense. However, the more important reason to check out this game is the fact that Seattle and Arizona are both close behind the 49ers in the battle for the NFC West. Even though the 49ers swept the opening set of divisional games, I have a feeling the NFC West sweepstakes will be going down to the wire.
One other plus to this game is for Bay Area fans in particular. The Raiders are playing Philadelphia on Fox, but that game is blacked out. As I mentioned in the comments of our national preview yesterday, the black out means we get a different game at 1pm pacific. For today that means we get Arizona-Seattle on tv. While the Eagles can be a fun team to watch, I'd much rather watch the huge divisional battle between Arizona and Seattle. I'm thinking I'll watch Ari-Sea for the most part, but switch over to the Red Zone channel when things are slow.
Since people might not get quite as excited given no 49ers action today, we've got several stories and FanPosts worth checking out. If you missed our new national preview column, check out Josh Branco's first column. Josh put together a lot of detail in previewing today's matchups. Additionally, we've had some interesting FanPosts going up during the doldrums that the bye week brings. My personal favorite was the Bay Area rankings, which looked at the various professional sports franchises in the Bay Area. I think that is worth turning into a regular feature over the course of the year. Maybe at the beginning and end of major sports season? On top of that we also had a fun little bye week survey by kinglouie33, so feel free to fill that out when you get a chance.
Finally, make sure and get your predictions in if you have not done so yet. If you miss the morning games, feel free to pick the remaining games.