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Are the 49ers the favorites in the NFC?

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If not, they better be in your top 3

San Francisco 49ers v Los Angeles Rams Photo by John McCoy/Getty Images

ESPN has a weekly article where they overreact to what happened in the NFL that week. One of the questions for Week 6 was whether the 49ers are the team to beat in the NFC. Here is their blurb:

San Francisco smothered the Rams on Sunday to improve to 5-0. The 49ers and the Patriots are the only remaining undefeated teams.

The 49ers’ defense has given up a total of 10 points the past two weeks in games against the Browns and Rams. They hold a half-game lead on the Seahawks and a 2.5-game lead on the Rams in the NFC West. Their plus-83 point differential is the best in the conference. They run the heck out of the ball and have shown the ability to hold down some of the most star-studded offenses in the league. They are, quite clearly, for real.

The verdict: OVERREACTION. The Niners are for real, but it’s still too soon to call them favorites. The Saints are 5-1 and banking win after win with Drew Brees on the shelf. Those aforementioned Seahawks are right on their heels, led by a guy who’s playing quarterback better than anyone on the planet right now. The Packers are 4-1 heading into Monday night’s game against the Lions, and if I recall correctly, we asked this same question about them in this very space just one week ago.

The 49ers are absolutely part of a crowded field in contention for the No. 1 seed in the NFC. But with the Packers, Panthers, Ravens, Saints, and Seahawks (twice) still on the schedule, it’s not going to be easy for them to get there. They have a chance to prove it, but it’s too soon to crown them favorites just yet.

The 49ers have taken care of business in five games. The Rams and Browns came into the season with tons of hype, and both teams struggled to cross midfield against the Niners defense. That alone makes them a contender. Factor in the offense overcoming injuries, inconsistencies, and bad bounces, and it’s tough to feat a team like the Panthers. Shoot, the Ravens defense is abysmal.

To me, it comes down to New Orleans and Green Bay. Seattle is the “pretender” team that keeps winning. They could easily be 3-3 or even 2-4. That’s now how the NFL works, though. If I had to rank the NFC teams, assuming Brees comes back healthy, I’d say:

1-Saints

1a- 49ers

3. Packers

4. Vikings

5. Seahawks

6. Panthers

The NFC East, shockingly, is overrated once again. They’re going to beat up on each other all season.

The 49ers have a difficult second-half schedule, but they’re not going to lose three games in a row. They’re not the Rams! There is a pretty strong chance this team is 8-0 heading into the Monday night matchup against the Seahawks on November 11. We’ll see how for real the Panthers are when they come to Santa Clara in a couple of weeks. One thing that we call can agree on: The 49ers are one of the best teams in the league.

Are they the NFC favorites, though?

Here’s Daniel Jeremiah’s answer.