My friend Ray, always a cerebral observer of the NFL scene, gave me an interesting view into the results of the NFL season. The NFL is such a hard hitting violent sport, and the injury rate for players is virtually 100% - i.e every single player appears on the injury report at least once in his career and nearly 100% miss some games due to injury during their careers. The incidence of injuries influence a team's results greatly. There's nothing really deep or insightful there, but Ray went a step further in his analysis. Because injuries are generally random in nature, you expect them to even out for each team over time. That doesn't necessarily mean that a team with a lot of injuries one year will have very few the next, but certainly over a longer span of several years time frame they can be expected to equalize. Ray asserted that because the 49ers were relatively injury free last year, especially on defense, and because that defense has little depth behind its front line quality, it's possible that they could be really vulnerable to some injuries this year. It's safe to assume that a few key injuries there could really hurt the team. I searched on line for some analysis of injuries in 2011 season and found an interesting analysis on Football Outsiders that comes up with a stat called adjusted games lost. It indeed shows that the 49ers were in the top 1/4th of the league in terms of lack of injuries. Specifically, 49ers were 8th least injured team in 2011 and 4th least injured the year before, so they have had a run of good luck for last two years. Interesting that the two Super Bowl teams, Giants and Patriots suffered lots of injuries and were the 26th and 30th most injured teams in the league. It is a statement of depth of the roster and the fact that the Giants could stay afloat until their players got healthy to how they overcame the adversity. Giants were also the 22nd most injured team in 2010, so maybe the Giants are in for a few years of better luck on the injury front to even things out.
The same thing really happened to the Packers in their 2010 Super Bowl run. They had a lot of injuries all year long, but stayed afloat near the .500 mark and got a lot of injured players back at the end of the 2010 season to be ready for their playoff run. In 2010 the Packers were the 30th most injured team in the league, where in 2011 they were in the middle of the league.
It's really unclear what is going on with the starting LT Beatty. He has some back issues, which typically can be managed, but he is up and down with this. The Giants have good talent up and down the roster; the two biggest question marks are in the OL and at the Amukama's starting spot at CB. Amukamara has flashed some talent but also got beaten badly in the Jacksonville game. As far as the OL - they were awful last year opening nothing for the running game. I saw the 49ers - Vikings game the other day and the 49er OL was really handling the Vikings. Jacobs even looked great, because he was getting himself running down hill into big holes before an DLman could put a hand on him. The Vikings are not very good, but the quality of their OL is evident. Giants need to really improve there and Beatty being out does not help.