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Each Tuesday, WhatIfSports.com's NFL simulation engine will provide you with predictions, box scores and statistics for every NFL game that week. The NFL simulation engine generates detailed information including the home team's chances of winning (Home Win %), average score and comprehensive box score link. If you want to share your new found NFL knowledge with friends and family, make sure to check out our NFL Widgets on the WhatIf To Go page or click on the social networking share bar located at the top and bottom of the article.
The statistical inputs to the thousands of NFL games simulated are based on rigorous analysis of each team's roster, depth chart and statistically based player ranking. Roster modifications have been made for injuries and suspensions and those players are not part of their team's game simulation.
To account for injuries and roster moves announced late in the week, we will be re-simulating some games on Thursdays throughout the 2013 NFL season.
Check out our 2013 NFL Season-to-Date page to follow our accuracy week-to-week and find Locks and Upsets of the Week.
Game of the Week: 49ers at Saints
The last time the 49ers were in the Big Easy, they were this close to hoisting the Lombardi Trophy. Alas, that endeavor fell short, as San Fran departed for the West Coast empty-handed after a 34-31 Super Bowl loss. Despite this failure, the 2013 forecast was bright for the Niners, as the team believed it had found a franchise player in Colin Kaepernick, and with most of the integral components returning, were tabbed as NFC favorites.
New Orleans' projection was not as auspicious. Granted, the organization was welcoming back head coach Sean Payton from his year-long sabbatical, and any team with Drew Brees at the helm would be formidable. Yet, on the surface, the Saints did little to shore up a defense that surrendered a league-high 440.1 yards per game, whereas the team's primary adversary, Atlanta, brought in high-profile acquisition Steven Jackson. Even the most optimistic Who-Dat fan would concede a Wild Card position was likely a lofty ambition.
However, as the 2013 campaign enters Week 11, it's the Saints that are riding high and the Niners that are searching for answers. This battle between NFC titans serves as our WhatIfSports.com NFL Game of the Week.
It's unfair to label the 49ers as a disappointment. If the season ended today, San Fran would earn a postseason berth and present as a daunting foe. Conversely, the Niners have seen an unexpected amount of obstacles in their path to the Meadowlands. San Francisco has struggled against playoff-caliber teams, getting embarrassed by Seattle and Indianapolis and losing a close struggle to Carolina last week. All-Pro Aldon Smith has missed the majority of the fall to deal with a substance-abuse problem. Both sides of the ball have seen a startling amount of injuries. These wounds have particularly been damaging to the receiving corps, evidenced in the unit's league-low 187.6 yards per game.
And then there is Kaepernick. Envisioned as a fledgling star, the third-year arm shined in the season opener, tossing for over 400 yards and three scores against the Packers. Unfortunately, Kaepernick has severely regressed since that outing, owning more turnovers (10) than touchdowns (nine). The 49ers harbor aspirations of going the distance this winter, making it imperative for Kaepernick to rekindle his late-season magic from 2012.
“Magic” has been frequently used to describe the transformation of the New Orleans defense this year. New defensive coordinator Rob Ryan has energized a dormant resistance into one conceding a mere 18.1 points per game, fifth-best in the NFL. The biggest upgrade has been the performance of the secondary. Following last campaign's concession of 292.6 yards per outing (second-worst in football), the Saints now rank third in the league, holding opponents to 199.9 yards per contest. Perennially overshadowed by the high-octane offense, the New Orleans D is making noise of its own.
But make no mistake, the Saints are still powered by the aerial stylings of Brees and the offense. In his eighth year with the Bayou Boys, Brees has never been better, averaging 340.4 yards per game (second-best in his career) with only seven interceptions in 363 attempts. His rapport with tight end Jimmy Graham is unparalleled, and with the assimilation of deep-threat Kenny Stills, the Saints may just be scratching the service of their passing potential. The x-factor in this attack is the running game. Dormant for the first half of the year, Mark Ingram, Pierre Thomas and Darren Sproles exploded on Sunday night, combining for 244 rushing yards and three trips to pay dirt. Better yet, this trio added 115 yards and two touchdowns in the receiving game. Given the Saints entered as one of the worst terrain assaults in the league, the output has to be viewed as an aberration at the moment. If this harvest can be somewhat maintained? Watch out.
So who comes out on top in this battle off Bourbon Street? According to the award-winning WhatIfSports.com NFL simulation engine, the Saints emerge victorious 58 percent of the time by an average margin of 24-22. For the rest of this week's projections, check below:
Please note: The Jets-Bills and Lions-Steelers games were resimulated on 11/14 to account for injuries and roster updates.
NFL Week 11
|@ Seattle Seahawks||70.0||25||Simulate Game|
|Green Bay Packers||35.4||21||Boxscore|
|@ New York Giants||64.6||26||Simulate Game|
|Kansas City Chiefs||35.6||20||Boxscore|
|@ Denver Broncos||64.4||24||Simulate Game|
|@ Philadelphia Eagles||59.7||26||Simulate Game|
|San Francisco 49ers||42.0||22||Boxscore|
|@ New Orleans Saints||58.0||24||Simulate Game|
|@ Cincinnati Bengals||53.3||19||Simulate Game|
|@ Houston Texans||52.1||21||Simulate Game|
|New England Patriots||48.1||21||Boxscore|
|@ Carolina Panthers||51.9||22||Simulate Game|
|San Diego Chargers||50.2||25||Boxscore|
|@ Miami Dolphins||49.8||24||Simulate Game|
|@ Chicago Bears||47.9||20||Simulate Game|
|@ Tampa Bay Buccaneers||42.2||21||Simulate Game|
|New York Jets||59.3||21||Boxscore|
|@ Buffalo Bills||40.7||18||Simulate Game|
|@ Pittsburgh Steelers||38.0||24||Simulate Game|
|@ Tennessee Titans||36.2||19||Simulate Game|
|@ Jacksonville Jaguars||12.8||14||Simulate Game|
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