The Sunday nighter for Week 16 figures to be the best game of the day. You’ve got the two most physical teams in the league going at it in an extremely important showdown that could go a long way in deciding who wins the division. To give an idea of how similar these two teams are the: both average 15.6 points allowed per game, and San Francisco is half a point up on the average points scored with 25.5 while Seattle has 25. Commentators continent wide still reference the two teams’ showdown in Week 7 as the most physical all season, and with both having improved drastically since, expect more of the same in Week 16.
The biggest change for the two teams has been the play at quarterback. Colin Kaepernick has taken over for Alex Smith in San Francisco, and Russell Wilson has gotten much better in Seattle. A possible byproduct of the improvements at quarterback, Michael Crabtree and Sidney Rice have since established themselves as legitimate number one threats. These once run heavy teams now put much more responsibility in their quarterbacks – and it has paid off.
If the Seahawks are going to win they’re going to need Wilson to play a whole lot better against the Niners this time. He was only 9 for 23 the last time they met for a meager 122 yards. For the Niners, Colin Kaepernick and this new look offense are going to have to find a way to deal with the ridiculously raucous CenturyLink faithful. The offensive line is going to have to find some way to cope with the noise, as is Kaepernick when trying to communicate with his teammates. Vernon Davis showing up for a game wouldn’t hurt the Niners chances either.
The turnover hungry Seahawks defense, with the help of the crowd should prove to be the toughest challenge Kaepernick’s had to face in his young NFL career as a starter. Richard Sherman is good to go while his lengthy appeal process continues to drag out, and Walter Thurmond and Marcus Trufant are expected to play in this game as well. Needless to say, Brandon Browner’s absence shouldn’t be too big an issue.
Justin Smith’s absence for the Niners though, that could be a serious problem. Considered one of the best, and subsequently one of the dirtiest defensive linemen in the league, his absence will have a huge impact on defensive player of the year candidate Aldon Smith. Justin Smith’s famed “go between 2 linemen and grab both of their shoulders” move let’s Smith do his thing. Teams can almost never double team Aldon Smith as a result, and if Justin Smith sits this out Aldon Smith won’t be anything a little tight end help on the outside can’t keep in check. It will also have a huge effect on the 49ers ability to defend the run.
This shapes up to be a good one. Both teams are playing great, putting up points and shutting down opposing offenses. Something has got to give, and I don’t think it will be the Seahawks perfect season at home. The crowd is loud in games of half this importance, but playing to keep their division title chase alive, against division rivals, I expect nothing short of ear shattering, offensive disrupting noise all night. I’m not even going to try to predict the score, but I’m sure it won’t be all that high. Hope you all enjoy the game, have a Merry Christmas and happy holidays, and play safe. All the best, and thanks for your continued readership.