The 2017 NFL schedule was released last month and the San Francisco 49ers have a tough road ahead of them in their quest to make it to the NFL Playoffs next season in the middle of a rebuilding year. These are the five hardest games standing between the 49ers and the postseason berth they missed out on last year.
5. at Indianapolis Colts (Week 5)
This was the toss-up of the group. The Colts get the nod because the road game against the Cardinals comes after a Thursday night game (more time off), the Seahawks only get one matchup (what's the point in listing Seattle twice), which leaves the Panthers, Colts and Eagles. The Colts road game comes after a trip to Arizona and it'll be tricky for the 49ers. The Colts weaknesses are pass protection and pass rush, two areas the 49ers aren't exactly great at. With a reworked secondary, Andrew Luck could be in for a big game.
4. at Washington Redskins (Week 6)
The Redskins aren't an easy opponent, and the 49ers will be underdogs. Plus, this is the third straight road game for San Francisco, which increases the difficulty. Plus, there's the whole Kirk Cousins storyline to keep an eye on, if even that doesn't increase the difficulty.
3. vs. Dallas Cowboys (Week 7)
The top three toughest games are clear-cut, although the order is up for debate. The Cowboys were fantastic last year and even a home game won't be easy for San Francisco. The key for the 49ers will be stopping the ground game and Ezekiel Elliott. The Cowboys might not be as good they were last year (at least in the regular season), but they'll be among the best teams in the NFC.
2. vs. New York Giants (Week 10)
I think the Cowboys are a better team than the Giants, but two factors give New York the very slight edge. One, the travel can make things a bit harder. Two, this is the final game before the 49ers bye. That means they'll be tired, beat up and probably battling some injuries. New York's tough defense will give the 49ers' offense a tough challenge.
1. at Seattle Seahawks (Week 2)
This one is a no-brainer. Seattle is one of the best teams in the NFL and are one of the hardest road opponents. Plus, this comes early in the year when the 49ers will still be adapting to the new coaching staff. Upsets happen, but the 49ers will be heavy underdogs.