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Seahawks vs. 49ers Week 16 Preview

As predicted by most before the season began, the San Francisco 49ers lead the NFC West with just two games to go. After the Niners’ domination of the division last season, the only surprising part is that their lead is only one and a half games. The Seattle Seahawks have proven to be the dark horse team in the NFC and with a showdown against the Niners at home this week, they have a chance to pull to within a half game of the West lead. On the other hand, a win for San Fran would clinch the division for the second straight season. So, here we are with the biggest game in the NFC West all season. Which team will rise from this late-season battle with a victory?

With San Fran clinching a playoff berth last week and with Seattle almost a shoo-in for a wild card spot, it appears that both of these teams are already playoff bound, but this week’s match-up could be a preview of an even bigger playoff meeting, as well as possible revenge for the Hawks, which lost at San Francisco week 7 by a score of 13-6. If that game was any indication of what to expect this week, then the Niners clinch the division by way of an old-fashioned trench war slugfest.

Wilson has become a leader in year one in the league

However, things have changed since week 7. Both teams have continued to win, but Seattle has opened up its playbook for developing rookie quarterback Russell Wilson in recent weeks, displaying the offensive might it possesses. Considering the Seahawks have racked up 50 points or more in their last two games, I’d say they’re likely to score more than six this time.

And let’s not forget the biggest difference between this meeting and last; the change in scenery. Seattle will play host this week in a building where they haven’t suffered a loss all season. The Seahawks home field advantage is well-known. It’s reputation for crowd noise is intimidating to opponents, even the Packers and Patriots, which both came away from the Emerald City empty handed.

Ah, but the Niners are a different team too. Since subbing Colin Kaepernick for Alex Smith at quarterback, San Francisco has become a more versatile and dangerous offense. Kaepernick’s dual threat coupled with the league’s second best rushing attack and best overall defense, is still a winning combo in any stadium or situation.

Look for SF to stick with what worked the first time, a heavy dose of Frank Gore

However, at their core, each of these teams is still built on the run game and solid defense. And with two teams that are so evenly matched, we can probably expect another low-scoring ground tug-of-war. With so much at stake, it may come down to which team makes the costly mistake and so far both teams have shown they don’t do that very often.

As you might have guessed, the spread is as close as it gets with this game at one point in favor of San Francisco. This battle will certainly be hard fought and nail-bitingly close, but I like Seattle at home in this one and not just because of its stellar record at CenturyLink Field. I expect Pete Carroll to employ some new wrinkles to his offense this week and shove some tricks up his sleeve because to win this type of game against a team that knows you’re strengths and weaknesses, you’ve got to do something unexpected. Look for Seattle to make the big plays and come up with a turnover or two to pull this game out and make things really interesting come week 17.


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