Before the season began this looked like it may be a Thursday night match-up that would go fairly unnoticed. Now, almost to the half-way point of the season, this contest between both 4-2 squads looks like it will have major implications.
Implications that go beyond who wins the division and who goes to the playoffs. Rather, a match-up that may determine who the next dominant defense is going to be for the next few years. Just as Baltimore made their mark years ago and continue to carry the torch as the defensive team, Seattle and San Francisco looked primed to do the same, if not receive that torch from Baltimore.
Both teams have young and athletic defenses that have proved this year they can shut just about anyone done. For Seattle, they rank second in the league with giving up the fewest number of points, averaging 15.5. They have been tough on both sides of the ball giving up an average of 70 rushing yards a game, ranking 2nd, while only giving up an average of 294.7 total yards a game, ranking 4th in the NFL.
Richard Sherman and Brandon Browner are big, tough, physical corners, who enjoy smashing people at the line of scrimmage. While the Seahawks have improved on putting pressure on the quarterback since last year. They have accumulated 17 sacks, comparatively to last year's total of 33. (Chris Clemmons accounts for seven of the 17 sacks this year, while last year he accounted for 11 fo the 33.)
San Francisco was known as a scary defensive squad last year, and it has carried over. They find themselves statistically in the top five in most defensive catagory's including being ranked number one is only allowing 275.8 yards per game, which includes 92.7 on the ground and 183.2 through the air.
They also rank third in the league in fewest points given up, only allowing 15.7.
This is going to be a slug-fest and here are three bold predictions for Thursday night's match-up.
1. It's going to be a low scoring affair, with both quarterbacks making mistakes.
I realize since I just spewed out massive amounts of defensive statistics about both teams that this isn't exactly shocking or really bold at first glance. But I am talking 14-7, 10-7, 7-0, 3-0 type of ballgame.
Both teams offenses are not explosive at all. They are built to run the ball, control the clock, make smart passing decisions, and let the defense smack the other team around.
Since both teams are proficient at stopping the run, they will be forced to pass, and neither team will execute I feel. I feel both teams will do a lot of dink and dunking, and occasionally take a shot down-field, but neither will gain an edge on the overall. Both teams quarterbacks will be under duress the whole game. Don't be surprised if both quarterbacks throw two picks a piece and Alex Smith fumbles the ball; Wilson is a little more agile, so he may escape some of the pressure. Which leads me to my second bold prediction...
2. Russell Wilson will make some plays with his legs.
We haven't really seen Wilson make a ton of plays of the ground this year. It was one of the reasons he was highly touted coming out of Wisconsin was his ability to both proficiently pass and run with the ball, a dual threat quarterback
In fact, Wilson ranks tenth in rushing yards amongst quarterbacks this year. But the pass rush is going to be hot and heavy from San Francisco, which is going to force Wilson to have to scramble. This is going to be the game where we see Wilson improvise a little bit and exploit a defense and pick up yards on the ground.
3. Wilson will win it in the final minute with a toss to Golden Tate
Woah! Yep, I'm calling it. It will be the third time Seattle will win in the final minute with Wilson tossing a deep ball to Golden Tate.
This game screams defensive cage match. So naturally if this is the case the ending has to be something extraordinary. Something that is so out of place from the rest of the game. Plus, since Seattle has done it twice now, why not make it a lucky three?