Seven weeks ago the Seattle Seahawks visited the San Francisco 49ers when the home team was the lone undefeated squad in the National Football League. With a win, the 49ers could have pulled three games in front of Pete Carroll’s team and took a lot of drama out of the NFC West Division race.
The 49ers had their opportunity to extend their winning streak in overtime, but a missed field goal allowed the Seahawks to escape San Francisco after pinning the 49ers with their first loss of the year. It was a perfect storm for the Seahawks.
They had the motivation on their side, needing a win to avoid dropping three games behind in their division race, and catching the Niners who were without their first string kicker, Robbie Gould, who was sidelined with an injury.
Seattle parlayed those elements into a narrow road win that has kept them in the thick of the NFC race ever since. In fact, a few weeks ago, the Seahawks had ownership of first place in the division based on that Thursday night win seven weeks ago at Levi’s Stadium.
Tonight, in Seattle, the Seahawks will look to end the year in front of the 49ers. With a second win of the season against their division rivals, the Seahawks would catch San Francisco in the win/loss column at 12 and 4 and win the division based on their two straight-up victories over Kyle Shanahan’s team.
But, what the Seahawks need to confront, even though they are on their home field, is a 49ers team that has been better than Seattle all season long … and have their kicker, Gould, back booting for points. It is not often that the Seahawks are underdogs in their home stadium, but tonight they are … for good reason. Last week, they lost their runningbacks to injuries, and this week signed twice retired Marshawn Lynch. He will suit up tonight, see some action, but probably not turn the game in Seattle’s favor.
This is not a perfect storm for the Seahawks, this is a spot where the 49ers need to step up their efforts on defense that in recent weeks has not matched their dominance over the first half of the season. This fact can work in the 49ers favor, they are not going into CentryLink Field overconfident, but rather knowing they have to play their best and improve their defensive effort to secure the top seed in the NFC playoffs.
For most of the season, with the 49ers and Seahawks playing so well, it was expected that the winner of the NFC West would be the top seed in the conference and the second team drop to a fifth seed. But, with the 49ers loss to the Atlanta Falcons two weeks ago and a tough game tonight, if the Seahawks beat the 49ers they will win the West but play next week in the Wild Card round as a third seed. The top seed would then go to the Green Bay Packers, who beat the Detroit Lions in overtime today to end the regular season with a 13-3 record. If the Seahawks do win, the second seed would go to the New Orleans Saints, who blew out the Carolina Panthers today.
Okay, let’s take a step back and look at this from a pure talent on talent perspective.
The 49ers have been the better team all year, the best team in the NFC, and tonight they will punch their top seed ticket based on their talent. The Packers will get the second seed and the Saints the third seed and Seattle drops to fifth in the postseason lineup.
All that remains in question, is will San Francisco cover the point spread in the process?
I expect so.
Qoxhi Picks: San Francisco 49ers (-3) over Seattle Seahawks