It’s been a rough start to the season for the Seattle Seahawks and San Francisco 49ers, and both teams are running out of time to turn their respective seasons around. The two NFC West rivals will meet at Levi’s Stadium on Thursday night in Week 7, and the loser will fall to 2-5, taking sole possession of last place.
Seattle’s slow start might be the most surprising in the entire NFL. After reaching back-to-back Super Bowls, the Seahawks were considered one of the favorites to vie for the championship, once again. Pete Carroll’s squad is far from out of it, but they may have eliminated their chances of getting a bye in the playoffs.
San Francisco’s slow start was to be expected. After losing a top head coach and some of their best defensive players, the 49ers haven’t looked like a playoff team. A win on Thursday, however, would put them just one game under .500.
Las Vegas oddsmakers still seem to think the Seahawks are one of the NFC’s best teams. They were seven-point favorites over the undefeated Panthers last week, and they are six-point road favorites in San Francisco, according to vegasinsider.com. The over/under is 42 points.
Seattle’s defense was the NFL’s best in the last three seasons, but the unit is the biggest reason why the team is 2-4. While the offense has had it’s own issues, the defense has been unable to hold onto leads at the end of games.
Last week, Seattle couldn’t hold onto a nine-point lead over the Carolina Panthers with four minutes remaining, losing at home for the first time this season. The Seahawks also blew fourth-quarter leads in the final minute of their games against the St. Louis Rams and Cincinnati Bengals, eventually losing in overtime. Seattle was fortunate to not fall to the Detroit Lions at CenturyLink Field in Week 3, only escaping with a victory because Calvin Johnson fumbled at the goal line with less than two minutes remaining.
The Seahawks didn’t allow an offensive touchdown upon Kam Chancellor’s return in Week 3 and Week 4, but the vaunted “Legion of Boom” is not what it once was. Seattle ranks 17th in the NFL, allowing opposing quarterbacks to register a 91.3 passer rating. Only three teams have fewer than their three interceptions.
Colin Kaepernick Rebounding
After the 49ers lost three of their first four games, a lot of people were ready to give up on Kaepernick. The versatile quarterback has played much better in the last two weeks, giving San Francisco a semblance of hope for the rest of the season.
In Weeks 2-4, the 49ers lost to the Steelers, Cardinals and Packers by a total of 69 points. Kaepernick was intercepted five times in those games, throwing just two touchdowns and averaging 163 passing yards per contest. But he nearly led the team to a road win against the Giants in Week 5, and San Francisco defeated the Ravens in Week 6. Kaepernick posted a 107.1 and 128.2 passer rating in those games, completing four touchdown passes and no interceptions.
Kaepernick has been successful when given time to throw. He was sacked 13 times in Weeks 2-4, but just five times in the last two games. Seattle might have trouble getting to Kaepernick, considering they only have 13 sacks in six games.
In The Trenches
Seattle’s offensive line has been discussed a lot over the first six weeks, and it continues to be an issue for the Seahawks. Seattle has been an average offensive team, and they won’t get much better unless they improve on the front line.
Russell Wilson was sacked four more times in Week 6, and he leads the league after being taken down 26 times behind the line of scrimmage this season. Marshawn Lynch returned from injury against Carolina, and his struggles continued. He ran the ball 17 times for 54 yards, and he’s averaging 3.3 yards per carry in 2015.
Fortunately for Seattle, they aren’t facing one of the best defensive fronts in football. The 49ers only have nine sacks on the year, and they rank 15th in rushing defense.
Seattle is probably better than their 2-4 record indicates, and they clearly have more talent than San Francisco. But the Seahawks continue to have trouble closing out games, and the betting line doesn’t accurately reflect how they’ve played. The six-point spread in San Francisco means the Seahawks would be nearly two-touchdown favorites in Seattle, and that is just too many points for a team that could easily be 1-5.
Seattle over San Francisco, 24-23