Week seven’s edition of Thursday Night Football on the NFL Network may present viewers with the best match so far this season as the 4-2 Seattle Seahawks head to Candlestick Park to face their division rivals the 4-2 San Francisco 49ers with first place in the NFC West on the line. Each team enters what should be a defensive, no-holds bared grudge match riding different waves of emotion following the results of last week’s games. The Seahakws will look to use their positive momentum following their thrilling 24-23 come from behind victory over the New England Patriots while the 49ers will attempt to get the bad taste out of their mouths after being man-handled by the New York Giants 23-3.
Seattle’s defense is currently ranked fourth in the NFL in offensive yards allowed per game (294.7 yards), 13th in passing yards allowed per game (224.7 yards) and second in both rushing yards allowed per game (70 yards) and points allowed per game (15.5 points) while San Francisco’s defense is first in total offensive yards allowed per game (275.8 yards), second in passing yards allowed per game (183.2 yards), ninth in rushing yards allowed per game and third in points allowed per game (15.7 points). With those kind of statistics if anyone is expecting an offensive explosion on either side then they need to search for another game to watch because this one is going to be about who causes the most turnovers and who hits the hardest.
The Niners are going to need Alex Smith to bounce back somehow from his abysmal performance last week versus the Giants (19-30 for 200 yards, 0 TD, 3 INT and a 24.8 QBR) and if there is any place where the Seahawks can allow some kind of yards it is through the air. Smith is going to have to find Vernon Davis and Michael Crabtree to move the offense down field because I doubt that Frank Gore is going to find too many holes to gain lots positive yardage on the ground.
The Seahawks are going to need a huge game out of Mr. Skittles himself running back Marshawn Lynch (128 carries for 549 yards and 2 TD this season) as the Giants showed that if you stick with the running game then the 49ers can be exposed. Seattle can’t expect Russell Wilson to duplicate the best game of his young career (16-27 for 293 yards, 3 TD, 0 INT and a 91.4 QBR) again this week against the number two passing defense in the league so there for Lynch is the man for their offense if they want to improve to 5-2 and claim first place of the division at the end of this one.
For Seattle on defense second-year corner back Richard Sherman is coming off of quite a weekend not only on the field but also on Twitter and in interviews as he not only picked Patriots quarterback Tom Brady off and played sound defense on the New England wideouts, but he also verbally attacked Brady and the Pats at any opportunity he could, calling their offense a gimmick and much more. It will be up to Sherman, safety Earl Thomas and the rest of the Seattle secondary to control what the Niners will attempt to do through the air. Defensive end Chris Clemons and his 5.5 sacks will also have a thing or two say about what happens in the passing game as well.
For the San Francisco defense they must play more inspired than they did last week and that all starts with a heavy dose of great play from their All-Pro linebackers NaVorro Bowman and Patrick Willis. Through six games the two have combined for 110 tackles and two interceptions and will look to limiting Lynch and the Seattle running game early and often, if they can do so then the Niners have a great chance of getting back on the right track.When Wilson does attempt to drop back and pass it will be up to Aldon Smith and the San Francisco pass rushers to contain him and not let him get out of the pocket because the rookie quarterback could also burn them with his legs as well.
This game is truly the epitome of a pick ‘em; but if I had to make a choice on who I think is going to come out with the win I guess I’d take San Francisco just for the sole fact that they are home. 49ers 13-10, but don’t be surprised if Seattle can pull out another close win, I wouldn’t be.