Introducing a new preview gimmick for this site, I will use Football Outsider's (FO) less heralded stats to preview this weekend's game. I am actually stealing this idea from Mistake by the Lake (an outstanding Cleveland spots blog). What I lack in talent or creativity I make up for in pictures of half naked women.
A quick note about the FO stats, you can find a more detailed explanation here, but they essentially break down every play and compare it to the league average for the season. FO's stats are a much better indicator of how good a team is because they take into account the quality of the team's opposition.
Buc's offense vs. 49er's defense
Teams . . . . . . . Buc's offense . . . . . 49er's defense
Total DVOA . . . -3.5% (#17) . . . . . . 33.3% (#31)
passing . . . . . . -6.8% (#18) . . . . . . 12.5% (#27)
rushing . . . . . . -0.2% (#18) . . . . . . 51.5% (#32)
Now follow me here because this is where it gets tricky. On defense, the more negative a DVOA is the better the unit. But on offense the better teams have a more positive and higher DVOA. So in this situation the Buc's offense has an advantage (although not as big in other matchup as you will see).
Obviously, the Bucs are missing Brian Griese, so it remains to be seen how Chris Simms will play over an entire game. He played well for two quarters in relief of an injured Griese. In fact, you could argue that Simms did a better job than Griese by spreading the ball around, when Griese was clearly locked onto Galloway. Either way, Simms gets a tune up against an ugly passing defense.
The 49ers defense is just dreadful, almost as bad as thier offense. If the Skins can score 7 touchdowns against them hopefully this Bucs offense can score at least two touchdowns.
Buc's defense vs. 49ers offense
Teams . . . . . . . . Buc's defense . . . . 49er's offense
Total DVOA . . . . -19.1% (#4) . . . . . . -55.5% (#32)
rushing . . . . . . . -30.3% (#1) . . . . . . -19.0% (#28)
passing . . . . . . . -10.6% (#10) . . . . . -87.5% (#32)
It does not matter whether Alex Smith or Ken Dorsey started this weekend. Neither of them are all that good and they have absolutely no talent surrounding them. Their leading receiver form last season, tightend Eric Johnson is done for the season.
Despite the hype surrounding him runningback Kevin Barlow has looked mediocre at best the last couple of years. Runningback Frank Gore has been the lone bright spot for a 49ers offense which has struggled to score points, what with his 72 yard run for a touchdown last week against the 'Skin's second stringers.
The 49ers only chance in this game might have been to run the ball, but it's unlikely Barlow or Gore will find much success against the top rated rush defense in the NFL. I don't think the Bucs will cover the eleven points they are being given, but they should still throttle a weak 49ers team.