The New England Patriots haven't found themselves in many must-win October scenarios over the last two decades, but you could certainly qualify Sunday's Week 7 game as one of those situations.
The Patriots are under .500 (2-3) in October or later for the first time since 2002. They are in third place in the AFC East. A loss to the San Francisco 49ers this weekend could drop the Patriots into a hole that would be difficult to climb out of.
New England's remaining schedule is not an easy one. The Patriots still have to play the defending NFC champion 49ers, the Baltimore Ravens, Los Angeles Rams, plus AFC East-leading Buffalo Bills twice. Road matchups against the Los Angeles Chargers and Miami Dolphins aren't likely to be easy, either.
The Patriots haven't lost three consecutive games since 2002, and most experts are not expecting head coach Bill Belichick's team to match that on Sunday. Oddsmakers also like the Pats' chances of victory in Week 7 -- New England is a 2.5-point betting favorite.
Here's a roundup of notable expert predictions for Patriots vs. 49ers.
Gregg Rosenthal, NFL.com: Patriots Staff consensus, Bleacher Report: 49ers Albert Breer, MMQB (Sports Illustrated): Patriots Jenny Vrentas, MMQB (Sports Illustrated): Patriots Jori Epstein, USA TODAY: Patriots Nate Davis, USA TODAY: Patriots Bill Bender, Sporting News: 49ers Greg Cote, Miami Herald: Patriots Gerry Dulac, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: Patriots Sam Farmer, Los Angeles Times: Patriots Pete Prisco, CBS Sports: Patriots Mike Clay, ESPN: Patriots Trey Wingo, ESPN: Patriots Mina Kimes, ESPN: 49ers FiveThirtyEight: Patriots 54 percent, 49ers 46 percent