On paper, a matchup between the 1-7 New York Giants and the 0-9 San Francisco 49ers doesn’t look overly enticing. Yet, this one has the potential to be an enticing Week 10 NFL game. Teams in death-spirals within the context of a single season can paradoxically create interesting storylines. Let’s make a few bold predictions ahead of this one.
C.J. Beathard will have the best game of his NFL career
I made a similar prediction about Beathard before, but he has struggled. Fortunately, he’s coming off a game in which he threw for nearly 300 yards, so the upside is there. Now, Beathard draws a Giant defense which was torched by both Russell Wilson and Jared Goff in recent weeks.
Wilson threw for 334 yards and three touchdowns, while Goff went for 311 yards (on 14 completions) for four touchdowns. Beathard won’t go this wild, but he’ll still have by far the best game of his NFL career.
Garrett Celek will go for 80 yards and a touchdown
The 49ers are incredibly thin at tight end entering this game, since George Kittle was ruled out with an ankle injury. Garrett Celek is up, and he saw four targets last week against the Cardinals. While he couldn’t produce much (one catch for 13 yards), he draws a beautiful matchup with the worst team in the NFL at covering opposing tight ends.
On the season, the Giants have given up 46 receptions for 565 yards and a league-worst nine touchdowns to tight ends. Celek could be in for a big opportunity this weekend.
Sterling Shepard will tally two touchdowns
The 49ers haven’t been atrocious against wideouts, giving up 1,360 yards and nine touchdowns to the position. However, this is a prime breakout spot for Shepard, who’s going to be the clear-cut No. 1 wide receiver with both Odell Beckham Jr. and Brandon Marshall out.
Shephard had five catches for 70 yards last week against the Los Angeles Rams, and with this enticing matchup — plus the fact that he should see eight or more targets — he will put together a two-score outing.
Orleans Darkwa will go for 120-plus and a score
Darkwa has been a surprising bright spot for the Giants in a disappointing season. He’s averaged at least 4.4 yards per carry in three of the past four games, including a superb 21-carry, 117-yard performance against the Denver Broncos’ excellent run defense.
Now, he faces the worst run defense in the NFL. The 49ers are the only team to have allowed over 1,000 rushing yards in 2017 (1,071) with six touchdowns. They’ve also given up 54 receptions for 572 yards and four more touchdowns through the air to the position, for good measure. Darkwa looks poised for a monster outing.
The 49ers will win
Yes, the 49ers are fortunate enough to be playing this game on their home field, so there’s a slight advantage there, but the Giants are the more talented team, without question. It may not be drastically bold to predict a winner in this game, but at 0-9, betting on the 49ers to get the job done is tough.
That said, before the 40-10 loss to the Dallas Cowboys, the 49ers were not playing terrible football. If they can play an average game and the Giants look the same as they did during their 51-17 loss to the Rams, the stars should align for San Francisco to get its first win of 2017.