So, the question on everyone’s minds right now is: Is the Seahawks/49ers rivalry dead?
It’s an interesting question to ponder. For starters, you have to find an appropriate definition of a “rivalry”. At this point, with all the bad blood that’s been figuratively spilled, in comments sections and message boards, in the blocking of friends and family on various social media sites, in the verbal altercations and maybe even physical altercations between drunken fans, I don’t think we’re ever fixing this relationship: Seahawks fans and 49ers fans are going to forever hate one another. Or, at least for the foreseeable (and considerable) future.
Some people seem to think a rivalry requires that both teams are good at the same time. Both teams, fighting for the same goal that only one team can ultimately have. Granted, that makes for a GOOD rivalry, but you don’t stop being rivals when one team is awesome and the other is on a downward spiral. Indeed, it’s in these spots where a rivalry truly gains a foothold.
Think about the rivalry between the Huskies and Cougars. No one is sitting there calling these two schools, or these two football programs, equals. They haven’t both been good at the same time in quite a while. And, I don’t think they’ve ever really both been simultaneously good for an extended period of time (say, five years or more). At least, I don’t remember that being the case in the last 30 years or so.
But, you know what games stand out almost as much as the de facto playoff appearances between two successful rival teams? Those games where the underdog knocks the great team out of contention for something great.
I mean, look at it this way: the Huskies lead the all time series against the Cougars by a record of 69-32-6. CLEARLY, the Huskies are the superior team in this rivalry, but just because the Cougs are so inept, it doesn’t make it any less of a rivalry. Take the 1982 season, for example. The Cougs finished 2-4-1 in conference play. But, they beat the previously 1-loss Huskies in the Apple Cup, knocking us out of the Rose Bowl and a possible Top 5 finish. THOSE are the games I’m talking about.
Yeah, 49ers fans hate the Seahawks for keeping them out of the Super Bowl last year. That loss in the NFC Championship Game was a devastating blow. But, imagine if the 49ers had beaten the Seahawks this past Sunday. The 49ers, a team going nowhere, coming into Seattle and scurrying away with a hard-fought victory, costing us a chance at the division title and a first round BYE in the playoffs (while also making our path to simply securing a playoff spot that much more difficult). Isn’t that just as bad? Knowing you SHOULD have beaten a bitter rival, but they still find a way to win anyway?
Unless you’ve got a natural geographic rival (like Seattle and Portland, for instance), it’s a little difficult to manufacture a rivalry. The Seahawks moved back to the NFC West in 2002. From that point through the 2011 season, the Seahawks didn’t really have a rival. Yeah, San Francisco is the closest city to us in NFL terms. They’re in our division and everything. But, when we started playing them regularly in 2002, they were total shit, and we were a team on the rise. The NFC West in general was pretty hit-or-miss, but if I had to say someone was our main rival, I would’ve put that on the Rams, who were just playing out their run as the Greatest Show On Turf when we came into the picture. By the time we went on our run of NFC West championships (from 2004 thru 2007), we really didn’t have a rival. There was some bad blood for the Steelers, maybe a little for the Packers and Bears, but nothing like we’ve had since 2012 with the 49ers.
It takes a few good years of sustained success that we enjoyed to manufacture a rivalry with the likes of a team like the 49ers. In their heyday of the 80s and 90s, you’d say the 49ers’ main rivals were the nationally great teams: the Giants, the Redskins, the Cowboys, the Bears. Now, with the divisions realigned, the Seahawks are it. And, even if the 49ers lose Harbaugh, and even if Kaepernick never finds his groove again, and even if their defense ages into obscurity, and even if the 49ers are terrible for the next ten consecutive years, we’ll still always have this run from 2012-2014 as our rivalry’s heyday. And, going forward, should the Seahawks continue to be successful, there will still be a rivalry. Maybe the 49ers go 1-9 against us in the next ten meetings. But, that lone defeat will still sting like a thousand defeats, because that bad blood will always be there.
What I’m more looking forward to is being like those 49ers of the 80s and 90s. Being like what the Patriots have been for the last decade plus. Yeah, the Pats have the Jets and Dolphins and Bills, who they’ve been playing twice a year for decades. But, since Tom Brady took over, aside from a couple great Rex Ryan teams, the Pats have more or less demolished their division en route to a long string of division titles and first round BYEs in the AFC. If you had to name New England’s top rival in that span, it wouldn’t be anyone in their division, it would be the Indianapolis Colts, followed by the Denver Broncos. Essentially, wherever Peyton Manning called home.
THAT’S what I want. Yeah, it’s nice having that blood feud with the 49ers. And it’s fun to hate on the Cardinals and Rams to a lesser extent. But, I want us going after the big guns of the NFC. I want our big rivalry to be with the Packers, or the Saints when they’re good, or any of the NFC East teams if they can get their shit together for an extended run of brilliance.
In my mind, the Seahawks should find simply winning their division to be a little blasé. It should just be a given. The Patriots don’t go into their seasons thinking, “I hope we win our division this year!” They go in EXPECTING to win their division, while thinking, “I hope we represent the AFC in the Super Bowl this year!”
That’s what I want. That’s the kind of rivalry I hope to see. The kind of rivalry that transcends geography. The kind of rivalry where you only face your opponent once per regular season, and that’s because you’re both winning your respective divisions every year. I want the kind of rivalry where Grantland documents each of the games between their respective teams based on how well each quarterback plays.
We thought we might have had that between the Seahawks and 49ers, but that’s looking less and less likely. Jim Harbaugh is douchebagging his way out of a job, and Colin Kaepernick is mediocre-ing his way into being a professional backup. The 49ers’ flame burned bright and quick, and the status of this particular rivalry is in question going forward. The Seahawks have three straight wins, and have won 5 of the last 6. There are more Seahawks blowouts than there are simple, close 49ers victories in the Wilson/Kaepernick Era. We’ll see what happens from here, but it strikes me that the 49ers are about a year away from a total rebuild, while the Seahawks are moving on to bigger and better things.
The Seahawks Dynasty is still in play. And, at that point, the NFL world will be so sick of us, we’ll be EVERYONE’S rivals.
- Dallas Cowboys (10-4) – The jinx of the #1 spot is real! Let the Cowboys be next to feel its sting! Uhh, I mean, YEAH, the Cowboys are the best team in the NFL! This is a thing I truly believe! 7-0 record on the road and whatnot!
- Seattle Seahawks (10-4) – Mid-season swoons be damned, the Seahawks are back and better than ever! But, they’re never EVER setting foot in my top spot. Not as long as that jinx is hanging around.
- Denver Broncos (11-3) – I don’t really know what to say. Their offense doesn’t look great right now, but they’re finding ways to win. Defense is rock solid, so I guess that helps.
- New England Patriots (11-3) – I don’t know who I fear more between the Broncos and Patriots, I’m just glad the Seahawks only have to face one or the other in the Super Bowl.
- Green Bay Packers (10-4) – I never thought it was possible, but the BILLS of all teams gave us the opportunity to grab hold of the #1 seed. God bless them, every one.
- Indianapolis Colts (10-4) – Why they struggled so much against the Texans is the exact reason why they’re not a Super Bowl team.
- Detroit Lions (10-4) – Same goes for the Lions, with their struggles against the Vikings.
- Arizona Cardinals (11-3) – Another win in the books, another quarterback down for the count. Meet the team EVERYONE wants to face in the playoffs (non NFC South edition).
- San Diego Chargers (8-6) – A pretty good team who’s just getting eaten alive by their schedule.
- Philadelphia Eagles (9-5) – What is this, the 8th week in a row where the team that’s played the Seahawks has lost the next week? That’s kinda ridiculous, isn’t it?
- Baltimore Ravens (9-5) – Ravens gonna cakewalk backwards into the playoffs this year. Face Houston’s third string QB next week, then Johnny JamBoogie and the hapless Browns in the final week.
- Pittsburgh Steelers (9-5) – Steelers got a nice path to the playoffs. Could knock out the Chiefs next week and the Bengals the week after. Both games in Pittsburgh, so you gotta like that if you’re a Steelers fan. Especially considering how you just trounced the Bengals two weeks ago.
- Cincinnati Bengals (9-4-1) – They’re technically the division leader now by a half game, but stick a fork in ’em. Home against the Broncos, then at the Steelers. That’s got 0-2 written all over it. Thanks for playing 2014 NFL football!
- Kansas City Chiefs (8-6) – The Chiefs missed out on the playoffs when they lost at Oakland last month. They finish at Pittsburgh and vs. San Diego. No way they’re able to put up points with the Steelers.
- Buffalo Bills (8-6) – You know what, Bills? I don’t really believe in you, but you beat the Packers for us, so you get to hang out in the Winner’s Bracket for a week.
The Loser’s Bracket:
- Miami Dolphins (7-7) – Sorry, Dolphins. Teams who play their head coaches out of jobs don’t get to be ranked among the winners (plus, you know, it helps if you have a winning record and everything).
- San Francisco 49ers (7-7) – Knocked ’em out of the playoffs. Got their douchebag head coach fired. Finally convinced them Colin Kaepernick isn’t a starting quarterback in this league. What a great weekend!
- St. Louis Rams (6-8) – Another year of being moderately scary, another year with a record not over .500.
- Houston Texans (7-7) – Well, it was a fun ride while it lasted. Now, go find yourselves a quarterback.
- Cleveland Browns (7-7) – Seriously, Johnny JamBoogie, your money sign with the hands is idiotic when you haven’t done a fucking thing in this league.
- Minnesota Vikings (6-8) – Honestly, this team is better than I could have expected, given their best player was lost for the year and they’re breaking in a rookie quarterback.
- New Orleans Saints (6-8) – I can’t wait for the Saints to host the Cardinals in the first round, followed by the Saints beating the Cardinals’ third string quarterback, followed by the Saints coming BACK to Seattle in the Divisional Round so we can crush them once again!
- Atlanta Falcons (5-9) – I just honestly don’t know what to say about this NFC South. Was the NFC West in 2010 THIS bad? I’m asking for real; I can’t tell because I’m too close to the situation.
- Carolina Panthers (5-8-1) – They host Cleveland and go to Atlanta. If Cam Newton comes back, you never know.
- Chicago Bears (5-9) – Hello darkness, my old friend.
- New York Giants (5-9) – Yeah, whatever.
- Washington Redskins (3-11) – Total shitshow.
- New York Jets (3-11) – Way to screw yourselves out of the #1 pick.
- Oakland Raiders (2-12) – Okay.
- Jacksonville Jaguars (2-12) – Uh huh.
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-12) – Fucking irritating team. WHY ARE YOU STILL PLAYING MCCOWN???
- Tennessee Titans (2-12) – You are one pathetic loser!