Seahawks-49ers: 8 reasons why Seattle can beat SF for the NFC West title
In November, I wrote a post where I listed eight reasons why the Seahawks could beat the then-unbeaten 49ers. Why eight? I couldn’t come up with nine. And not that my list had anything to do with it, but we all remember what happened – the Seahawks beat the 49ers 27-24 in overtime.
This time around with the NFC West title on the line, let’s try it again with eight reasons why they can beat the Niners for a second time. Some are solid, some are admittedly flimsy, but all could factor into a Seahawks win, even with their injury-ravaged squad.
• 8) The Eagles’ win over the Cowboys last Sunday. What does that have to do with this game? Maybe nothing, but I still think it is another example of a team overcoming injuries to win a key game. Plus not many thought the Eagles would beat the Cowboys, which seems to be the case with the Seahawks against the 49ers this week. Everyone is doubting them, feeling like they’re lucky to even be in a position to earn a first-round bye. Everyone is down on their defense, and you can understand why – they’re 26th in the league. But after hearing so much about how great San Francisco’s defense was, the Seahawks accepted the challenge and played out of their minds against the Niners in Week 10. They could have a similar performance, fueled by the 12s, who will get an extra four hours to fuel themselves before kickoff.
• 7) The Seahawks lost to the Cardinals in the next-to-last week of the 2013 season, beat the Rams in the final week and went on to win the Super Bowl. Following that loss to Arizona, there was plenty of doom and gloom in town, but the Seahawks rallied from that defeat and could do it again, particularly if you believe in history repeating itself.
• 6) Teams have a tendency to suck it up and play above their heads when star players are injured. I’m a firm believer in this in the short term. Long-term, it’s hard to overcome the absences of Duane Brown and Chris Carson. Look at the Seahawks’ 17-9 win at Philadelphia this year. Jadeveon Clowney didn’t play, everyone thought it would severely affect the pass rush, yet the Seahawks came up with five sacks that day.
• 5) It’s not like the 49ers are world beaters anymore. They’ve gone 4-3 in their last seven games, and they’ve got their own share of injuries. The offensive line has not been the same since it lost center Weston Richburg to an injury three weeks ago. The Rams sacked San Francisco quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo six times last Saturday. And the defense still ranks No. 2 overall but has allowed an average of 35 points in its last three games. That offensive line could be missing another key player this week. Right guard Mike Person did not play against the Rams because of a neck injury. If you’re worried about Russell Wilson getting buried by a San Francisco pass rush that has come up with 47 sacks this year, it’s not been as good of late, with only three sacks in the last four games.
• 4) I know things have changed since the Seahawks beat the 49ers in November, but if you can beat them as six-point underdogs, can’t you beat them as three-point underdogs when you’re playing at home? Doesn’t the home-field advantage offset the fact that star 49ers tight end George Kittle didn’t play in the first game but will be front and center Sunday night? Plus there’s this – three-point home underdogs win a lot in prime-time games.
• 3) Speaking of which, don’t forget the Seahawks’ success in primetime games under Pete Carroll. Or Russell Wilson’s record in prime-time games – 16-2. Or that Wilson is 31-7 after a loss. Or that he’s never lost a home game to the 49ers in his career, going 8-0, winning by an average of 17 points.
• 2) After missing the last two games with a sports hernia and the flu, Clowney is expected to be back to anchor the defensive line. Even if he’s at 70 percent – and I’m just speculating here – I’d take his 70 percent over some of his teammates’ 100 percent. He’ll make a difference in the pass rush and run defense, the latter of which is most critical after the Cardinals rushed for 253 yards last week.
• 1) Marshawn Lynch returns. I don’t make this the No. 1 reason for what he’ll do himself – I’m guessing he’ll get 10 carries for 40 yards. I don’t think he’ll be great, but I don’t think he’ll be subpar either, just something in between, as in halfway decent. Even a player of his Hall of Fame-caliber can’t be expected to blow the doors off of any defense, much less San Francisco’s, at the age of 33 and after not playing for 14 months. But what about the emotional boost he’ll give to the Seahawks? You can’t measure that, but it’s gotta be in the neighborhood of through the roof. And I’m big on Human Nature. Let’s hope the lift he brings will be enough of an intangible over the course of 60 minutes to make a difference.
More Seahawks coverage
• Lynch’s return a benefit for Hawks regardless of his performance
• The 3 Questions: How much will Lynch impact Seahawks?
• Welcome back, Marshawn: A montage to get ready for his return
• Wyman’s Football 101: Telling the story of Seahawks’ D this year
• Clayton: Seahawks have more problems than just running back