By Jim Moore
After going 15-3 against the spread in Seahawks games last year, I blew it last week, taking Carolina plus-3.5.
This week the Seahawks are favored by thrree over the 49ers. I love the Hawks in this game for the following reasons:
Marshawn Lynch had a rough go in last week’s opener against Carolina, but the Seahawks running back has a good track record against the 49ers after rushing for over 100 yards against them twice in 2012. (AP)
10) Marshawn Lynch: A lot of concern this week after Beast Mode and the offensive line had a subpar game against the Panthers. But in both games against the 49ers last year, Lynch rushed for more than 100 yards. Look for that to continue Sunday night.
9) Cliff Avril: The biggest offseason free-agent acquisition makes his debut after missing most of minicamp and training camp with plantar fasciitis and a hamstring injury. This guy was a sack machine in Detroit. I don’t have really high expectations for his first Seahawks game, but it’s fair to think that he’ll give a lift to a pass rush that’s still missing Bruce Irvin.
8) Chris Clemons: It’s interesting that the Seahawks’ leading sacker is listed as questionable for the game. As you know, he just started practicing this week after suffering a torn ACL in the playoff game in Washington last year. For him to be listed as questionable is encouraging and suggests that he could play. Even if he makes a cameo appearance, it would also give a boost to the defensive line and might even lead to an arms-crossed celebration after his first sack.
7) Richard Sherman: Raise your hand if you don’t think he will make a big play in this game. That’s what I thought – no hands in the air. Sherman had eight interceptions last year and returned a blocked field goal for a touchdown in the Seahawks’ 42-13 win over the 49ers last year. The bigger the stage, the better he plays.
6) The 49ers’ secondary: It allowed 333 passing yards to Aaron Rodgers in a 34-28 win over Green Bay last week. That leads me to think that Russell Wilson can have a similar kind of night if the Seahawks struggle to run the ball again. Rodgers did it on the road; Wilson’s at home, where his passer rating was much higher than on the road last year. He also threw four touchdown passes against the Niners at CenturyLink last year.
5) The Seahawks’ receivers: Colin Kaepernick has basically two receivers to throw to – Anquan Boldin and Vernon Davis. Wilson has six – Sidney Rice, Golden Tate, Doug Baldwin, Jermaine Kearse, Stephen Williams and Zach Miller, all of whom are capable of 100-yard days.
4) Jon Ryan: How good is the Seahawks’ punter? He doesn’t get enough credit. He can boom a long one when needed, as evidenced by his 69-yard rocket that turned field position around in the first quarter of the Carolina game. He’s also great at knocking the ball inside the 10. I’ll take my chances with Ryan against any other punter in the league.
3) Tate as a punt returner: It will happen at some point, may as well happen this week – Golden Tate is so quick and elusive, he’s bound to score on a punt return sometime this season. Maybe multiple times. As I recall, he had some terrific punt returns against the Niners in his rookie season. He’ll be on the loose Sunday night.
2) The Seahawks’ defense: Simply put, it’s better than the 49ers’ defense, though you’d still have to give the San Francisco linebackers an edge over Seattle’s. Then again, the Seattle secondary is dramatically better than San Francisco’s. I expect that to be the biggest difference in the game – Wilson will find more open receivers than Kaepernick will.
1) The 12th Man: Consistently loud as it is, Seahawks fans will go for the Guinness World Record for noisiest stadium Sunday night. CenturyLink will be at its ear-piercing best. And the 49ers are a team that could be flustered – they lead the league in delay-of-game penalties last year and had clock management problems last week against Green Bay. Throw in a few false starts and you’ve got a recipe for all kinds of issues for San Francisco.
Prediction: Seahawks 28, 49ers 17.
Season against the spread: 0-1.