Five weeks into the season, Brock Purdy was among the hottest quarterbacks in the NFL and no team looked finer than the 49ers.
A month later, a lot has changed. Purdy is dealing with adversity for the first time in his two-year career, and San Francisco has cooled off considerably by failing to win a game since an October 8 blowout of the Cowboys. After a three-game losing streak and a bye, the 49ers are looking to get back on track Sunday at Jacksonville.
The Jaguars (6-2) have won five in a row, rank eighth in the league in scoring defense (19.5 ppg) and follow the lead of maturing quarterback Trevor Lawrence.
The 49ers (5-3), who rank fourth in scoring defense (17.5 ppg), will send a new edge-rushing tandem at Lawrence with Nick Bosa on one end and Chase Young, acquired in a trade with Washington, on the other.
San Francisco’s offense also will get a boost as wideout Deebo Samuel returns from a shoulder injury. Samuel should help open the field for Purdy and running back Christian McCaffrey. Although he leads the league in rushing yards with 652, McCaffrey was limited to 142 yards in the past three games. Purdy suffered a concussion and threw five interceptions during the losing streak.
This play is not about advanced stats or power ratings. This play is about the Jaguars, who have faced a relatively soft schedule, taking a step up in class. This play is also about the 49ers getting healthier and refocused and proving they are too good to lose four in a row.
Pick: 49ers -3
My five sides went 2-3 last week, so the season record in this column is 20-22-3. Four more plays for Week 10 (home team in CAPS):
It all happened against a lame-duck Rams team at Lambeau Field last week, but Packers quarterback Jordan Love went 20-for-26 for 228 yards and stopped a five-game streak with an interception, and running back Aaron Jones led the team’s season-high 184-yard rushing performance. While the buy sign is not exactly lighting up on Green Bay, it’s tough to sell the Steelers as favorites of more than three points. Pittsburgh has been outgained in all eight games with an offense that has been borderline pathetic for most of the season. Under the total of 39 might be a better bet than the underdog.
The switch to rookie quarterback Will Levis was a move Tennessee coach Mike Vrabel had to make. Levis’ strong arm and ability to stretch the field will give the Titans’ running attack some breathing room. Tampa Bay has lost five of six and is falling apart on defense. The Buccaneers allowed 443 yards passing and 496 total yards in a 39-37 loss at Houston, which was led by rookie quarterback CJ Stroud.
An obvious play-on team last week after the firing of coach Josh McDaniels, Las Vegas is not quite as attractive this week simply because of a possible emotional letdown. But I’m rolling with the Raiders again. The fear factor of betting against the Jets is low. The New York offense ranks 30th in scoring (16.5 ppg) and 31st in total yards, with coordinator Nathaniel Hackett appearing clueless in a search for answers. In a 27-6 loss to the Chargers on Monday, Jets quarterback Zach Wilson was sacked eight times. The Raiders’ Maxx Crosby is tied for second in the league with 9.5 sacks.
The Denver defense made a dramatic improvement in the past three games, allowing an average of 15 points, and two of those games were against Kansas City. Russell Wilson also has improved his play and has 16 touchdown passes to four interceptions for the season. Buffalo is 2-3 straight up, with the wins coming by five and six points, and 0-5 ATS in its past five games.