The 49ers and Jaguars will be across the pond this week with the teams squaring off in the second London game of the season. Jacksonville and San Francisco enter the game headed in very different directions. The 49ers have won four straight games after a 1-2 start and once again look like the Super Bowl contender many thought they would be before the season.
Jacksonville continues to struggle and at 0-7 is one of only two teams still without a win. Jacksonville hasn't lost a lot of close games either; the Jaguars are last in the NFL in scoring offense and scoring defense. They have a minus-146 point differential, the worst in the NFL.
Sunday's game will be just the third meeting between the teams since 2005.
Meet the Jaguars
It's been a rough season for the Jaguars who have been record-setting underdogs on their way to an 0-7 record. Of their seven losses, only a 19-9 loss to Oakland was by 10 points or fewer. Blaine Gabbert started the season, but was ineffective and has been limited by injuries. Chad Henne took over as the starter and hasn't been much better. The Jaguars are 32nd in the NFL in rushing yards per game and they are averaging just 10.9 points per game.
Jacksonville hasn't been much better on the defensive side of the ball, allowing 31.7 points per game. It has allowed the most rushing yards in the league. The Jaguars have been better against the pass, but only marginally. They are 23rd in the NFL in allowing 7.6 yards per pass attempt.
The Jaguars have won just one of their last 20 games.
Meet the 49ers
The 2013 season didn't get off to a great start for San Francisco with early-season losses to Seattle and Indianapolis, but the 49ers rebounded in Week 4 and have been rolling since. They've won four straight games and scored at least 31 points in each game. The 49ers have scored 33.2 points per game in their five wins this season compared to five points per game in the two losses.
The rushing attack again leads the way on offense and San Francisco is third in the NFL in rushing yards per game. The 49ers are 31st in passing yardage, but that is mainly a result of a lack of attempts. They are ninth in the league in yards per pass attempt.
San Francisco is tied for seventh in points allowed per game and tied for ninth in passing yards per attempt allowed. San Francisco's biggest issues on defense have come against the run where the 49ers are 17th in yards allowed per rush. The 49ers' defense does an excellent job of forcing turnovers, with 15 takeaways thus far.
Local Takes: Jacksonville
Cecil Shorts has struggled with drops this season but Adam Stites of Big Cat Country wrote that Shorts' numbers are nearly identical to his breakout season last year:
So how does his high drop rate compare to his breakout season in 2012? Nearly identically.
Shorts was thrown 64 catchable balls last season and managed to come away with 55 receptions. That's a 14.06 percent drop rate.
His statistical contributions have been nearly identical as well, as Shorts' 69.9 yards per game in 2012 have been upped to a 70.1-yard average in 2013. While his receptions per game have jumped, his yards per reception have dropped, as he's been unable to record any of the breakaway touchdowns that he did in 2012.
Local Takes: San Francisco
It's going to be interesting to see how the 49ers handle the financial side of things with Brock. He is having a breakout year, with three interceptions and generally excellent coverage since taking over the nickel role.
And he's a free agent after this season.
There is little doubt in my mind that Brock maintains this nickel role the rest of the season. That likely means more interceptions, and more great coverage. With each day that passes, his price tag climbs. The 49ers front office will have several question marks to face when the offseason hits, and cornerback is going to be one such position. Brock will have one "good" year under his belt, so what kind of price tag could we be looking at?
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Harbaugh referenced European Vacation with regard to visiting sites in London. Wish he'd said "Look kids, Big Ben, Parliament!"— Niners Nation (@NinersNation) October 22, 2013
@ryanohalloran -- Jaguars beat writer
The NFL obviously thinks 49ers and #Jaguars is a biggie -- Ed "Muscles" Hochuli on the Big Whistle Sunday.— Ryan O'Halloran (@ryanohalloran) October 22, 2013
@mattbarrows -- 49ers beat writer
It would be hard to imagine San Francisco losing this game. The 49ers are one of the best teams in the NFL, while the Jaguars are in the first year of a complete rebuild and have a long way to go. Simply looking at the matchups, there aren't many areas where the Jaguars have an advantage over San Francisco. Justin Blackmon has had some big games this season and he would likely need to have a massive game if the Jaguars are going to threaten a good 49ers defense.
It's impossible to know what impact the travel will have on both teams, but I'll say San Francisco wins, 38-10.
San Francisco opened as a 16-point favorite, according to Odds Shark. The 49ers are 5-2 against the spread this season while the Jaguars are 1-6.
Both teams will travel back to the United States after the game then have a bye week to recover.