I’m picking the Seahawks to win tonight, but I’m not confident about it. I keep trying to figure out what the smart play is. Am I picking the Seahawks because I’m a fan, and I desperately want them to win? Because if they don’t win, the season is effectively over and all that’s left is to brood about how we’re going to finish 8-8 and fuck ourselves out of a top 10 draft pick? Or, am I picking them because they’re legitimately the better of the two teams?
So, let’s start there. ARE the Seahawks better than the 49ers? The 49ers beat a solid, if unspectacular Vikings team, and a massively underachieving, 1-win Ravens team. Like the Seahawks, they’ve lost all 3 of their road games and one home game. Their losses were to Pittsburgh (before Roethlisberger got injured), Arizona, Green Bay, and the Giants. Those are all pretty good teams. Conversely, the Seahawks beat a couple of really crappy teams in the Lions and Bears, while losing to the Rams (who somehow managed to beat the Cardinals, so I’d put those two teams on par with one another), the Packers, and the undefeated Bengals and Panthers. I’d say the 49ers have the most impressive win, by taking down the Vikings, while the overall strength of schedule is pretty much a draw (Seahawks lose tons of points thanks to Jimmy Clausen starting for the Bears).
I really don’t know if we can draw many conclusions from the schedule. But, I also don’t think the 49ers are quite who we thought they were either.
Going into the season, I thought this team would be a trainwreck, and they’ve been anything but. Yeah, they got stomped in back-to-back weeks by the Steelers and Cards, but many teams have been stomped by the Cards, and the Steelers have a really awesome offense when they’re healthy. What I’ve found more telling is how well their defense has fared against the likes of the Vikings and Packers. This team puts up a fight! And, they had a lead in the final two minutes of that Giants game before Mr. Eli’s Wild Ride marched down the field to snatch the game away. After a rock solid effort by Kaepernick in last week’s game against the Ravens, I think we’re all right to be a little scared.
But, this game isn’t about the 49ers. This game is entirely about which Seahawks team is going to show up (particularly, which Seahawks team is going to show up in the fourth quarter when we’re up by two scores). The Seahawks have tried to give away everything they’ve touched this year, which is more than a little disconcerting. We’ve been beaten by good teams, we were very nearly beaten by a bad Lions team, and we’ve even blown a game against the Panthers – a team whose number we’ve had in recent years. Now, we go down to San Francisco – on a short week – to play another team whose number we’ve had in recent years. The 49ers are unquestionably worse than the Panthers, but are they that much worse?
The 49ers have a quarterback with a strong arm who can run the ball (like the Panthers). The 49ers have a solid running game (like the Panthers). The 49ers have one of the best linebackers in the league (like the Panthers). Their defense overall is a lot better than we thought coming into the season (like the Panthers). So, why shouldn’t they be able to do what the Panthers just did? And from the confines of their home stadium to boot!
I don’t have a good answer for that. Grasping for straws, I’d say the 49ers are prone to turn the ball over, but since when has that mattered in this fucked up season? In our four defeats, the Seahawks have actually won the turnover battle in three of them! Overall, in our four defeats, the Seahawks are leading the turnover battle by an 8 to 4 margin! So, that’s no good. You might count Kaepernick for a pick or two, but anything more is unrealistic with the way our secondary has played this year.
I guess one other positive going in our favor is that they don’t really have any sort of great tight end. But, I feel like even an average tight end is good enough to work over our soft zones.
I dunno. I have no answers. Sort of like the Seahawks. We have the better team, but does that even matter? The theme of our season has been our lack of depth, just like last year. My hope is that our set of pros – who aren’t accustomed to losing – would come out extra fired up to save their season. But, do they even care? They’re not in the NFL anymore, they’re in the nfLBD: the national football League of Business Decisions. It’s all about that paycheck and getting out of the game with your brain intact. Not that I could blame them. But, I’d say “passion for football” is the furthest thing from their minds at this point.