As we head into the second half of the 2019 NFL season the San Francisco 49ers are by far the most surprising team, as they outlasted the Patriots being the last team to remain perfect. An astonishing start coming off the 4-12 record last season, so far, they look to be a lock to make the playoffs.
Yet even in Oakland, the Raiders are playing good football through eight games. Optimism should be in the air as the Raiders remain in the playoff hunt. Even with all the preseason drama with Antonio Brown and spending six weeks away from playing at the Oakland Coliseum. Shock wins on the road against the Indianapolis Colts and the Chicago Bears in London have given the Raiders life.
Led by a healthy Derek Carr at quarterback and rookie running back Josh Jacobs, Oakland only has one more game against a team with a winning record, that’ll be against the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 13. This is the Raiders last chance to salvage a winning season in what might be their final season playing in Oakland.
In their recent game against the Detroit Lions, Carr showed great poise with his game winning drive late in the fourth quarter. It’s also easy to see that Carr is playing his best since his broken fibula he suffered in December 2016. Entering Week 10, he leads the league with a 71-completion percentage through his 250 passes and has only thrown four interceptions all season.
The duo of Head Coach Jon Gruden and General Manager Mike Mayock is working which might not have been said by many after the drafting of Clelin Ferrell and all the spectacles that occurred during the preseason. But Ferrell has suited well for himself despite being criticized early on. The trade of Gareon Conley allowing rookie cornerback Trayvon Mullen to have more playing time has worked nicely. Selecting Hunter Renfrow looks to be a steal after getting him in the fifth round. Finally, the additions of Tyrell Williams and Darren Waller gives Carr more pieces to work with.
Over in Santa Clara, what else could be said about the 49ers? Other than the season-ending injury for linebacker Kwon Alexander, everything has been clicking. The mixture of running backs has given Jimmy Garoppolo the luxury of not having all the pressure being put on him to win games. However, Garoppolo third in completion percentage just behind Matt Ryan and the aforementioned Derek Carr. Matt Breida and Tevin Coleman have combined for 879 rushing yards through the first half of the season, and that’s even with Coleman missing two games.
Emmanuel Sanders is exactly what this offense needed in order for San Francisco to be true Super Bowl contenders, the first two games with Sanders in the lineup has been productive with 137 yards and two touchdowns. He definitely fits the scheme that Head Coach Kyle Shanahan runs.
On the other side of ball, Robert Saleh has his defense playing true to its original saying, “All gas, no brakes.” The defensive line of Arik Armstead, Nick Bosa, DeForest Buckner, Dee Ford and Solomon Thomas have been just lethal to whichever quarterback they have faced weekly. The secondary led by Richard Sherman has accounted for seven interception. Even with teams not targeting Sherman; Emmanuel Moseley, K’Waun Williams, and Ahkello Witherspoon have been pleasant surprises that have only strengthening the defense.
We will see exactly how good this 49er team can be within the next six weeks. The games against Seattle and Green Bay at home will be big not just for the team but for the crowd as well. Levi’s Stadium hasn’t had a winning team this deep into the season, and the home field advantage for the 49ers doesn’t seem intimated yet, compared to where it once was at Candlestick Park.
Eight weeks left. A lot of football is left to be played and the 49ers and Raiders are both in the spotlight which is good for the Bay Area, considering how the Warriors are looking right now.