After a week of knocking off the top team in the AFC, the New England Patriots will now shift their focus to battling against one of the top teams in the NFC: the San Francisco 49ers.
The 49ers enter Week 15 with the NFL's second best defense as well as the NFL's 11th best offense as they currently sit atop the NFC West with a 9-3-1 record.
With that being said, let's take a look at three players on San Francisco's roster that New England needs to watch out for.
1. Aldon Smith
Patrick Willis might be the heart of San Francisco's defense, but ultimately the defense revolves around outside linebacker Aldon Smith.
Smith currently leads the NFL with 19.5 sacks as well as racking up 57 tackles and forcing three fumbles.
After facing J.J. Watt of the Houston Texans this past Monday, the Patriots will now move onto an even more difficult challenge in Aldon Smith.
2. Frank Gore
The 49ers game-plan essentially breaks down as so: Pound the ball with Frank Gore, get an early lead, and then let the defense harass the offense while killing the clock with Gore.
New England cannot let that happen Sunday night.
Gore enters Week 15 with 1,035 rushing yards while averaging 4.9 yards per-carry and scoring seven rushing touchdowns on the season.
However, New England has the NFL's eighth ranked rush-defense—so I like their chances against Gore.
3. NaVorro Bowman
Much like Aldon Smith, Patrick Willis might be the heart of San Francisco's defense but NaVorro Bowman is the most productive linebacker on the team's roster.
Bowman comes into this week with an incredible 116 total tackles, which is good enough for the sixth most in the NFL. Bowman also has recorded two sacks, five pass deflections as well as picking off one pass.
Bowman might not be a play-maker, but he is a tackling machine—much like Jerod Mayo.
Any questions about this article? Ask me on Twitter!