Thursday, October 18, 2012

A Tall Order

I know what you would like to read. I know, because I would like to write it. You want to hear about why the Seahawks should win the game tonight against the 49ers. Why wouldn't you? A win tonight would leave the Seahawks with no limits on this season. A win tonight would thrust Seattle into the NFL elite. A win tonight would feel so good. The truth is, the Seahawks should not be able to win this game. The opponent is undoubtedly one of the best teams in the NFL. They are coming off a devasting loss that has them standing at full attention, and most importantly, they are playing at home. I have written the past few weeks why the Seahawks, and their fans, should fear noone. This game is not about fear. It is about two equally matched teams that are playing a game that unevenly (not unfairly) favors one of them.

It will be tough for Russell Wilson to face this 49ers defense on his best days. Facing them for the first time, in San Francisco, on a short week is exceptionally difficult. The best case for Wilson is to put up 150+ yards, a 7.5+ YPA, 1 TD and 0 INT. That would qualify as a stellar performance. It also happens that I listed them in reverse order of importance. Any turnovers by the Seahawks likely puts this game out of reach.

Running will be stagnant. Marshawn Lynch will not see many holes. Carries that go more than two yards, especially early on, should be celebrated. The goal for the running game in the first half is to put the team in 3rd and 5 yards or less. Prepare yourself for lots of the run on first, run on second, throw on third moments. Possessing the ball is far more important than scoring, until the fourth quarter. That may sound crazy, but is going to be more like an epic arm wrestling match than a tennis match. Seattle must find the right time to curl their fingers a la Sly Stallone, and go Over The Top.

Receivers and tight ends will need to be perfect. They can expect hard hits, but must catch whatever hits their hands, and hold onto the ball after contact. Any broken tackles are likely to come from this group, more than running backs trying to slip through the 49er front seven.

As with every Seahawks game in the early part of this season, the defense must carry the day. The 49ers hang their hat on being careful with the ball. They have had some hiccups this year, but will be waiting for the Seahawks offense to make a mistake. Expect a lot of runs, and mostly quick passes. Colin Kaepernick is more turnover-prone than Smith, despite what happened versus the Giants. There can be no dropped interceptions this week. It very well could take a defensive score to find a way out of town with a victory. Pass rush will be critical, but stopping the run is everything. Odds of winning go way down if the 49ers go over 110 yards rushing.

Mission impossible? Not quite. This is going to be a tall order, but no team is better equipped to carry it out than the 2012 Seattle Seahawks. This team was built for this type of game. They are incredibly young and this is will be their biggest test. Winning would mean they out-toughed the team most consider the toughest in the NFL. Winning would mean they are the odds-on favorite to win the division. Winning would mean the 49ers would fall into disarray. Most expected the Seahawks to lose to the Cowboys, Packers and Patriots. They beat each one. This one is different. Seattle cannot play well and expect to win. They must play great. The stage is set for a colossal battle. Time to see what happens. 

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