“A Storm is Coming.” That seems to be the motto for this weekend’s “Sunday Night Football” showdown between bitter NFC West rivals: The San Francisco 49ers and the Seattle Seahawks at CenturyLink Field in Seattle.
Both teams enter this week 2 match-up 1-0 and tied with St. Louis on top of the NFC West standings. The Niners, defeated Green Bay at home last week, 34-28, due to big performances from Colin Kaepernick and Anquan Boldin. The Seahawks, snuck by Carolina on the road, 12-7 in a defensive battle.
These two teams split wins at Home last season. San Francisco beat Seattle in the Bay 13-6 in Week 7, while Seattle dominated the Niners at CenturyLink 42-13 in Week 16.
This is a key early regular season match-up for two teams trying to make a statement, not only in their division, but to the rest of the league as well. The 49ers will be looking to erase the Week 16 blowout from their minds as they prepare for an absolute brawl in Seattle. While the Seahawks look to add a big division win to their resume and prove they deserve all of the hype they’ve received this past offseason.
I believe this game will be pretty similar to last season’s Week 7 match-up between these two teams, a low-scoring defensive game. I expect Colin Kaepernick and Russell Wilson both to run the Read-Option quite a bit more than they did in Week 1, as well as pounding the rock with both star Running Backs: Frank Gore and Marshawn Lynch.
Seattle’s pass rush will get some much needed help this week with the debut of Cliff Avril, as well as a possible return of Chris Clemons (Game-Time Decision). Seattle will need to provide as much pressure as possible on Kaepernick all evening, in order to contain this high octane offense that San Francisco possesses. The Defensive Line will be cruical in this game for Seattle, can they stop Kaepernick from running the ball down the field, or Frank Gore punching through the hole and carving his way through the defense?
San Francisco was able to carve the Green Bay defense up through the air last week, with Kaepernick throwing for 412 yards and 3 touchdowns. 208 yards and 1 of those 3 touchdown passes belonged to Anquan Boldin, the 49ers biggest offseason acquisitian. Seattle has a much better secondary than Green Bay, just ask Vernon Davis about his experience going against them last season (CHANCELLOR). I expect Richard Sherman to be lined up across from Boldin most of the evening, and Walter Thurmond against the young speedster Kyle Williams. Look for Kaepernick to target whoever lines up across from Thurmond most of the evening, due to the absence of Brandon Browner. This Seattle secondary did a nice job containing Cam Newton last week, look for them to rise up to the occasion against this week vs. Colin Kapernick and the San Francisco offense.
Russell Wilson and the Seahawks Offense will need to get going quickly in this game, primarily with the running game. Last week, Carolina held Seattle to just 70 yards on 26 carries. Guards: Paul McQuistan and J.R. Sweezy will be expected to step up big against the San Francisco D-Line, after their lackluster performances against Carolina last week. The 49ers have only allowed a Running Back to rush for 100+ yards, 5 times under Head Coach Jim Harbaugh. Marshawn Lynch was responsible for 3 of those performances. If Seattle’s offensive line can hold up, do their job, and give Wilson + Lynch some time, this offense could be giving San Francisco fits all evening long.
Key Players to Watch:
QB: Russell Wilson
RB: Marshawn Lynch
WR: Golden Tate
WR: Doug Baldwin
Seahawks Offensive Line
DE: Cliff Avril
DE: Michael Bennett
Seahawks Linebackers (Smith, Wagner, and Wright)
Seahawks Defensive Secondary (Legion of Boom)
QB: Colin Kaepernick
RB: Frank Gore
WR: Anquan Boldin
WR: Kyle Williams
TE: Vernon Davis
49ers Offensive Line
DE: Justin Smith
49ers Linebackers (Brooks, Bowman, Willis, and A. Smith)
CB: Carlos Rogers
SS: Donte Whitner
Notable injuries on both sides:
(WR) Sidney Rice (Knee): Probable
(CB) Brandon Browner (Hamstring): Doubtful
(DE) Cliff Avril (Hamstring): Probable
(S) Jeron Johnson (Hamstring): Doubtful
(DE) Chris Clemons (Knee): Questionable
(RB) LaMichael James (Knee): Questionable
Overall, this should be an exciting Sunday Night Football match-up. Expect plenty of big hits, ugly weather, and NOISE in this one. I’m taking the Seahawks with a last second game winning Field Goal over the 49ers, 20-17.