“Western Road Flows”

NFC Game Of The Week 

San Francisco 49ers at Seattle Seahawks 

49ers: They haven’t looked the same since their big win against the New Orleans Saints in week 14. Their year has been successful because they’ve had one of the best defenses in the league. As of late, they’ve looked off their rhythm. They give up 46 in a shootout to the Saints, 29 to the Falcons in which they were upset, then in week 16, they allowed 31 points to the Los Angeles Rams. To be completely honest, I feel they’ve still been celebrating the big win from week 14. I’m also getting the vibe that they feel they can beat whoever is on their schedule. In this business, you must show up each week. It’s not just a movie or a saying, but it really does apply to the game of football. Anyone can be defeated on any given Sunday. The 49ers are going back to the playoffs for the first time since 2013. They’ve been the biggest surprise in the NFL by far this year. It did take me a while to jump on the train, but I’m glad I noticed them when I did. When they want, they can physically wear a team down. What they did to the Green Bay Packers is a perfect example of this. In that game, they punched the Packers in the mouth so badly that they couldn’t even regroup until the third quarter. This is the best front four in the NFL. With Nick Bosa and Arik Armstead on the edges, they also have DeForest Buckner and Sheldon Day on the inside. Each guy on this front can disrupt the quarterback. The 49ers are closing in on their first division title since 2012. They’ll need to defeat the Seahawks on Sunday night.

Seahawks: I remember at one time when the Seahawks seemed to be on a tear. Russell Wilson was the front runner for the league’s MVP. Seems distant at this point, doesn’t it? Let’s fast forward to the present. The Seahawks are still in a prime position to make the playoffs. I just haven’t been a fan of how they’ve looked the last few weeks. They were absolutely dominated in Los Angeles a few weeks ago on a Sunday night. I felt that was a game they needed to win to keep afloat, but they dropped the ball. Even against the Carolina Panthers, they got off to a fast start then started to dissolve in the second half. They were able to win the game, but when you have a big lead you keep it up. In week 16, I was thinking they’d come out against the Arizona Cardinals to prove a point. That was a lie. The Cardinals kept Seattle down and handed them a shocking loss. When you look back at the years when they were getting to the Super Bowl, it was powered by an offense that controlled the clock, a consistent running game and a defense that was lights out. Their offense nowadays is more potent, Russell has developed his game, but the defense has been their downfall this year. Especially the secondary which was once their biggest strength. They can’t play man to man. If anything, they need to play zone coverage to keep everything underneath them. This will be their final tune up before the playoffs on Sunday night when the Niners come to town.

49ers Player to Watch: Dre Greenlaw– I rave about Fred Warner all the time. This guy deserves some credit and recognition as well. I like the style of football he plays. He’s downhill, plays from sideline to sideline and he can cover ground in coverage. Remember when these two met and Russell threw an interception which would be only his second on the year? This was who picked it off.

Seahawks Player to Watch: Travis Homer– With Chris Carson and C.J. Prosise both out, it’s truly the next man up. I followed him closely during his time with the Miami Hurricanes. He’s a speedy running back that’s able to break away from defenders to get into the open field. He can run inside or cut outside to get his yards. Travis displays tremendous burst when he sees a lane then he can hit the space with his feet.

Final Analysis: Their first matchup was one of the three best games I had seen all year long. It literally came down to the final seconds of overtime. Seattle handed the 49ers their first loss of the season. At that time, we speculated that their second meeting could decide the division. All these weeks later, here we are. I’m looking at the 49ers defensive front. I see them coming after the Seahawks banged up offensive line. They’ll make sure they make Russell run all over to survive. I need to see some energy from the Seahawks. You win this, you take the division and depending on all that happens before this game, you could have the one seed in the NFC playoffs. Talk about a playoff game before the playoffs. That’s just how wild the NFC has been.

Prediction: 49ers 24 Seahawks 23

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