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NFL San Francisco 49ersSeattle Seahawks

Seahawks vs. 49ers NFL Week 16 Preview

Seattle Seahawks - Russel Wilson

Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports

The Seattle Seahawks face their biggest challenge of the year this Sunday as they host the division rival San Francisco 49ers. The Niners need only one more win to clinch the NFC West title while the Seahawks need to keep their playoff hopes alive.

If the Seattle can beat the Niners, there is still a little bit of hope for the NFC West but chances are small that San Francisco will lose out the rest of the season.

The Seahawks will be facing one of the toughest defenses in the league led by linebacker Patrick Willis and outside backer Aldon Smith. Smith will be the biggest issue for the Seahawks’ offensive line. The backer has totaled 19.5 sacks and has been a problem for every offensive line he has faced. If Seattle is going to have a successful day on offense the first step will be in protecting quarterback Russell Wilson and stopping Smith.

Offensively for the Seahawks, Wilson will have to perform under the pressure and make sure the Niners’ pass rush does not get to him. Running back Marshawn Lynch will be in for a challenge against one of the top rushing defenses. If Seattle’s offensive line does not perform well, the Seahawks will have an incredibly difficult time getting into the end zone.

Seattle could have a problem at the cornerback position. Corner Richard Sherman will have his hearing Friday regarding his suspension. Depending on what the ruling is, Sherman might be ineligible. Seattle is already without Brandon Browner and could be without Marcus Trufant who is nursing an injury.

If the Seahawks can find a way to stay strong at the corner position, they could make it very difficult for San Francisco’s Colin Kaepernick.

With the playoff race so tight in in the NFC wild card every game is important to the Seahawks. A win this week will secure a playoff spot and could earn them the NFC West title if the Niners lose next week. Seattle needs to be strong in the offensive line and hope the home field crowd can help change the outcome from the last time these two teams met.