On the face of things, this is a game pitting two resurgent teams who have surprised a number of people and taken the early lead in their respective divisions. Tampa’s is a little more shocking due to the competition (Atlanta and N’Orlins) they face. Still, the NFC west was supposed to be Seattle, AZ, and StL fighting amongst themselves while the Niners staggered around blindly looking for clues behind their star-crossed QB. Well, 4 weeks in, and the Niners have a two game lead over their foes, and surprised the hell out of the Eagles last week. Frank Gore says the Eagles quit in the 2nd half:
So, here we are, two surprising teams squaring off. The current talk among the fans on both sides is low-scoring grind-it-out football. Let me be the one to say fuck that. If the Niners learned anything last Sunday, it is that they CAN push the ball down the field. They need to come out and be aggressive on offense. Try to get on top of these guys. Tampa Bay couldn’t do shit against Indy’s decimated defense. Yes, they have Dwight Freeney, but little else. TB spent 3 quarters getting holding calls and other penalties and did very little offensively. The fact that they won speaks to how sad Indy is without Peyton Manning.
I call this a trap game because these are the kinds of games that Mike Singletary would completely blow chunks on. He would build up his team as being better than the foe, preach his smashmouth style, and say we will lay our venegance upon them (sorry, just watched Pulp Fiction) and triumph. Invariably, the foe would come out aggressive, as TB did last year, and get on top of the Niners and coast the rest of the way home. Sing would mumble about looking at the tape to see how he was so easily taken down by the other team.
I also call this a trap game because of the obvious raising of expectations. Not too many prognosticators (shut up, Twin) picked 3-1 at this stage of the season (I figured 2-2 was doable). Harbaugh is in total denial mode that his team is this good. Frankly I like him doing that. The other coaches were the opposite. They would be praised for close losses, and befuddled by the myriad blowouts. Harbaugh doesn’t want them believeing the hype.
But the main reason I call this a trap game is the fact that I wonder if Harbaugh comes out and plays this close to the vest. I think htis would be a huge mistake. The 2nd half last week showed that they can push the ball down the field. They can run slants and deep patterns. If TB comes out showing 8 in the box, and tries to stop the run/short passing game early, I hope against hope that the Niners go for broke. Hit some big plays. Try to get on top of these guys for a change. Try to get a 14 point lead before these guys can catch their breath. Harbaugh’s a smart guy, and I know he’s waiting to unleash some things, but he’s also missing the key guy, Braylon Edwards. Still and all, I’d be drawing some big plays up for Kyle Williams early. In other words, i think the Niners can win pretty easily if they come out aggressive, and not play into TB’s style of game.