Showdown in Seattle This Week in the NFC West

Aldon Smith

Smith will need to be disciplined in rushing Russell Wilson on Sunday night.

The Seattle Seahawks have now dropped 50 plus points on two straight opponents while the San Francisco 49ers defeated Miami and then went to New England and survived a Patriots’ comeback. Now the two NFC West rivals will renew acquaintances in a Sunday night battle of epic proportions.

Let’s be frank, Pete Carroll and Jim Harbaugh are probably not exchanging Christmas cards this year. Dating back to their years coaching USC and Stanford respectively, the two have not always gotten along. Had New England been able to complete the comeback win, this game would for the NFC West title for all intents and purposes.

Because each team has extremely winnable games at home in their finales, this one is clearly a game where the division is probably not in question but in my opinion, it could have even bigger ramifications with the playoffs looming. Chances are that even with a Seattle win, any potential match-up in the post-season would be a game held in Northern California. With Seattle having arguable the best home-field advantage in pro football, that’s good news for the Niners.

The Standings: San Francisco 10-3, Seattle 9-5, St. Louis 6-7-1, Arizona 5-9

Steven Jackson

Jackson will need a big game to take pressure off Sam Bradford.

St. Louis at Tampa Bay (-3) – Lost in many of the big games last week was the St. Louis and Minnesota tilt where the loser was basically out of the playoffs. The Rams had things in their favor playing at home but Adrian Peterson had other ideas. Now the Rams have to travel to Tampa Bay where the Bucs have suffered a similar fate in recent weeks losing big games with a chance to improve their playoff chances.

Games like these are where coaches who will be back the next season, and both Schiano and Fisher will be back, often hold job auditions to see who their future players may be. Both Schiano and Fisher are molding their teams in their images by being aggressive and playing hard from snap to whistle. Talent upgrades are obviously in order for both teams. In this one, the team that can control the ball will go a long way towards winning the game. Both teams will try to establish the run and will use play-action off any successful running game. I like what Steven Jackson has been able to do in recent weeks and Doug Martin has cooled off significantly. I like the Rams to get a win on the road in this one.

Chicago (-6) at Arizona – The Cardinals broke back into the win column for the first time since week four after their beating Detroit. The Bears are teetering on the brink of an all-time collapse after starting 7-1, they are now 8-6 and essentially looking at being out of the playoffs.

The Cards had less than 200 total yards last week, but capitalized on four Lions’ turnovers including two pick-sixes. With Jay Cutler coming to town, they could be in store for some more of that action. Chicago has to get back to running the ball a little more to take the pressure of Cutler. Beanie Wells found the end zone a couple of times and ran for 68 yards total. I like Arizona to cover, but take the Bears to win the game.

San Francisco at Seattle (-1) – Colin Kaepernick has firmly established himself as the starting QB in San Francisco and Russell Wilson is making a very strong push to be mentioned in the rookie of the year discussions. Normally I’d say that whoever can run the ball better will be in better shape to win, but I’m looking for which defense can create more turnovers in this one.

The Niners traveled as far east as they could last week week and now go north. I think that will take a bit of a toll and I like Seattle to get after Kaepernick early and often. Take the Seahawks to win by a field goal.

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