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Niners and Seahawks Prepare for Playoffs in Week 17

Frank Gore

I like Gore and the Niners' running game to get it going against the Cards Sunday.

No one is hotter right now in the National Football League than the Seattle Seahawks with the possible exceptions of Washington and Cincinnati but it’s the way the ‘Hawks are doing it. They’ve scored 42 or more points in three straight weeks including a 42-13 whipping of San Francisco in Seattle last Sunday night. The loss may have served as a good lesson for the 49ers who can wrap up the division Sunday with a win at home over the Cardinals.

I have to believe the Niners want nothing to do with having to make a return trip to the Pacific Northwest after that beat-down and they now control their own fate in terms of the division title. The Atlanta Falcons have already wrapped up home-field advantage through the NFC playoffs but should Green Bay stumble in Minnesota, San Francisco could slip into that the second spot and earn a bye week in the process.

On thing is for sure heading into Sunday’s action and that’s that both teams will be doing a lot of scoreboard watching in their respective stadiums. Both games are late starts and my guess is that should the Niners get out early to a big lead then that could make Pete Carroll’s job of when to pull starters a heck of lot easier. Plus, the 49ers will already know the outcome in Minnesota when they take the field in Candlestick Park so much of the gameplan could get quickly shoved aside.

The Standings: San Francisco 10-4-1, Seattle 10-5, St. Louis 7-7-1, Arizona 5-10

Arizona (+17) at San Francisco – What an absolute mess the Arizona Cardinals have become in 2012. This was a team that started 4-0 including a monster win at New England. The defense has been fairly stable throughout the season but the offense has been a nightmare as the Ken Whisenhunt has struggled to find a quarterback. I cannot even imagine the frustration of Larry Fitzgerald who may be the most wasted talent in NFL history. I wouldn’t be a bit surprised to see him demand a trade and who could blame him?

The 49ers will have licked their wounds from Seattle and my guess is that they will get back to some basics in preparation for the playoffs. I’d be shocked not to see 150 yards or more on the ground this week from the Niners as they look to re-establish their running game. Colin Kaepernick wasn’t terrible last week, but he is still at a point in his progression where a running game is still vital to his success.

Jeff Fisher

Fisher has made the Rams tougher and a threat heading into 2013

+17 is a huge number in the NFL and one I would normally stay away from but this could be the perfect storm in which to play the Niners Sunday. Ken Whisenhunt and his staff are dead men walking and there are already guys on that team who know they’ll be elsewhere in 2013. I like the 49ers to get out early and roll to a big victory.

St. Louis (+11) at Seattle – I have to give credit to the Rams’ Jeff Fisher who has done a nice job in molding this team into one that resembles his Titans in terms of toughness and aggressiveness. They’ll still need to add a few play-makers on both sides of the ball but they are headed in the right direction.

Seattle’ s major goal in this game is to remain as healthy as possible and that starts with Russell Wilson at QB. Wilson has suddenly made the Rookie of the Year voting that much more difficult with huge numbers of the last few weeks. I like the Seahawks to win this game but I like the Rams to play hard and cover. Seattle is primed for a letdown with seemingly little on the line.

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