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NFL picks, Week 6: What it will take for the 49ers to upset Washington

We chatted with Hogs Haven about how the 49ers might be able to come away with a win in Week 6.

Washington Redskins v Detroit Lions Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

The San Francisco 49ers head into Washington looking for their first victory, while sitting as a double digit underdog. The line is anywhere from ten points to 12.5 points, with the 49ers wrapping up their three-game road trip.

I took some time this week to talk 49ers-Washington with Hogs Haven writer Bill-in-Bangkok. We wrapped things up with him considering ways the 49ers could spring the upset. Washington is a better team than the 49ers, so it makes more sense to me for Bill to break down Washington’s weaknesses in this game. Here’s what he had to say.

If Washington comes out and play the way they did against the Rams, Raiders and Chiefs, then I think they win at home against the 49ers. However, if they play the way they did in the Week 17 loss to the Giants (when a win would have put them into the playoffs) or in Week 1 against the Eagles, then the opportunities for the 49ers to come away with a win are many.

1. Washington is coming off an emotional and physically punishing Monday night game, with a bye week last weekend. The Week 7 game next week is a rematch with the division leading Eagles, who beat Washington in the opening game of the season, and who are pretty universally ranked in the top-3 in power rankings this week. Meanwhile, the 49ers roll into town with an 0-5 record, and everyone predicting a Washington win

Jay Gruden’s teams have a history of coming out flat when they shouldn’t. I wouldn’t be shocked to see Washington – mentally and emotionally -- arrive at the stadium in the 4th quarter instead of the 1st. If that happens, the Niners might be able to build enough early game momentum to win. San Fran needs to show up with energy & enthusiasm, ready to play to win.

2. Kyle Shanahan knows DC and FedEx Field. In addition, Pierre Garçon played here for the past 5 seasons. They will be able to help prepare the other players mentally for going into FedEx Field with the confidence to walk out with a win.

3. Washington has been playing very well overall, but strength has been the defense, followed by a good run offense — the Washington pass game has been sputtering. The loss of Garçon & Jackson is significant, TE Jordan Reed has been injured, slot receiver Jamison Crowder hasn’t been fully healthy, Josh Doctson just hasn’t found his place in the offense yet, and Terrelle Pryor has run sloppy routes and dropped too many balls. If the Niners can stop the run early, Washington may not be able to win with the passing game, like they were able to do so often in the two previous seasons. The Niners need to make this a game between two defenses.

4. Defensively, we’ve already discussed Washington’s vulnerability to tight ends. If the 49ers can exploit that, they can convert third downs and keep drives alive, which, I think may have been an issue for your team in its five losses. Also, Josh Norman has broken ribs, and likely won’t play. If he does manage to get on the field, he is unlikely to be 100 percent. Washington isn’t as good a team without him, and the difference is quite significant. That may provide enough opportunity for SF’s wide receivers to be productive in the passing game to get out of DC with a win.

5. The other factors are likely to be turnovers and penalties. Underdogs on the road typically have to avoid both to win, and I think that the particular strengths and weaknesses of Washington make this doubly important for the Niners. No turnovers, no stupid penalties, and maybe you end up with more points on the board than the home team.