The NFL’s best rivalry resumes when the Seattle Seahawks and San Francisco 49er’s hit the field on Sunday. One prediction that is not bold in the least bit is that these two teams won’t be exchanging Christmas cards. Both teams and fan bases do not like each other and no matter what side people are on this is a battle of good versus evil.
This rivalry is like Rocky vs. Drago, GI Joe vs. Cobra and The Karate Kid vs. Kobra Kai. Aside from the genuine dislike between the two teams, this game promises to deliver due to the major playoff implications it holds. A win for the Seahawks clinches the NFC West at Candlestick Park in the last game the two teams play one another at the historic stadium.
A win for the 49ers would maintain their hold on the sixth and final playoff spot in the NFC, keep them in striking distance for the fifth seed and allow their very slim chances in the NFC West divisional race to live another week. Up to this point in the season the Seahawks have shown that they are the best team in the NFC and possibly the best team in the NFL. The way the 49ers have been starting to play as of late is quietly reminding people why they were the best team in the NFC and probably the entire NFL last season. A win against Seattle would make them among the favorites yet again in the NFC.
Here are three bold predictions for what promises to be an intense rivalry game.
Marshawn Lynch will be held under 100 rushing yards for the second straight week.
Last week the only thing the Saints did well against the Seahawks was to contain Marshawn Lynch in their blowout loss. One of the best matchups in this game will be the NFL’s most physical running back going against the 49er’s front seven, which is one of the most physical and dominant in the NFL. Lynch will be effective by setting the tone for Seattle’s offense, taking the pressure off of the passing game and eating up the clock but he won’t put up big numbers. The 49er’s defense has been playing like their old selves in recent weeks, especially at home and will make it their primary emphasis to stop Beast Mode. Lynch will rush for 70 yards and a touchdown.
Russell Wilson will solidify his place in the MVP conversation.
The ink has all but dried in naming Peyton Manning the 2013 NFL MVP and rightfully so. But a name starting to get some buzz in the conversation is Russell Wilson who is having an incredible season. The whole world saw on Monday against the Saints what Seahawks fans have been seeing for the last year and a half out of Wilson. The 49ers will have success in containing Seattle’s rushing attack and it will be Wilson who takes this game over. He rarely puts up video game numbers because the Seahawks don’t need him to, so statistically he isn’t in Manning’s neighborhood, but who is? The Seahawks are 11-1 for many reasons, but none more so than Wilson’s immense talent, leadership, clutch performances and ability to stay calm under pressure. He has many of the same intangibles that a certain 49er’s quarterback had a quarter of a century ago.
The loss of Mike Iupati and Joe Staley will be the difference.
The 49ers appear to be without their two best offensive linemen Mike Iupati and Joe Staley for this game. Both players suffered sprained MCL’s in a two week span and will be hard pressed to play against the Seahawks. As important as this game is to the 49ers, having both players back healthy in late December into January is more important. The already dominant Seahawks pass rush will be able to harass Colin Kaepernick that much more without these two cogs on the line.
Kaepernick will need to use his feet more in this game and go through his progressions faster, which he already struggles to do. This will also hurt Frank Gore’s production. Gore has made a career of torching the Seahawks behind these big physical linemen. This game does set up in many ways for a letdown for Seattle after the big win on Monday and being on a short week. After embarassing the 49ers the last two times they have played the San Franscisco will be out for revenge. With those factors going agaisnt Seattle, the 49er’s losing their most physical players on offense will be too much to overcome the Seahawks defense. Seattle wins 24-20.