NFL Week 16: San Francisco 49ers vs. Seattle Seahawks, Playoff Birth and a Division Title on the Line & The Rivalry: Harbaugh vs. Carroll

on December 23 2012 5:30 PM

Are you ready for tonight? You better be! It is time for again maybe the biggest game of the year for football fans and San Francisco 49er/Seattle Seahawk fans as well. Actually…IT IS THE BIGGEST GAME OF THE YEAR FOR BOTH TEAMS! Who doesn’t love coaching rivalries with men that hate one another. This is truly the game to watch this Sunday. It’s Harbaugh versus Carroll, Russell Wilson versus Colin Kaepernick, 1st Overall Defense San Francisco versus 2nd Ranked Overall Defense Seattle, and the fight for the NFC West Division title with playoff implications. Nothing gets better than a game with so much meaning to it and story lines.

Although past all of those story lines there is a game to be played. The San Francisco 49ers are one win away from taking the NFC West Division title in back to back seasons in over a decade. The Seattle Seahawks are looking to make the playoffs once again and look to become the first team in decades to score 50 points in three straight games. We all can look up the statistics of both teams and the records, so I say lets cut to the chase. Here are my three top keys to watch during this Sunday night’s game on NBC.

Keys to Watch For:

1) 49er Defense vs. Marshawn Lynch (RB Seattle).  I might have tricked some of you here. The 49er Defense taking on Marshawn Lynch? Yes. My reasoning for this choice being the number one key to watch for on my list of three keys is because the 49ers need to eliminate the second best running back from helping Russell Wilson from controlling the game offensively. The reason for Wilson’s gigantic success has been because of the great offensive line in front of him, but truly from the brilliance that is Marshawn Lynch. Lynch is just second in rushing yards behind MVP candidate Adrian Peterson who are both on historical rushing season runs. Last time San Francisco played Seattle on Thursday Night Football back in October they kept Marshawn from reaching the end zone and only gave him 103 yards on the ground.  Though that was when Russell Wilson was still learning and struggling a bit throwing the ball. This time around Wilson is looking fantastic and the 49ers need to stop Lynch from first the end zone and second giant chunks of yards on the ground. If the 49ers can limit the long drives down the field by stopping Lynch then they will have won this game.

2)Special Teams. As both teams’ defenses are playing at the top of their game special teams will have to be key. In the 2012 season Leon Washington the kick returner for Seattle has not been as explosive  as he was in 2011, but the 49ers need to find a way to keep the ball out of his hands to keep field position advantage. For San Francisco Ted Ginn Jr. needs to learn to either fair catch the ball on punt returns or do not try to make his best Kyle Williams impression every time the ball goes in the air.  Finally, will David Akers who seems to have some sort of injury to his hip will he be able to make those clutch field goals late if needed? That is why Special teams are second key to watch for in this game.

3)Jim Harbuagh versus Pete Carroll. My final key to watch in this game is the head coaching rivalry. It is once again the hatred between both coaches that will be a focus to watch for. Harbaugh has a knack and knows how to beat Pete Carroll and Carroll is still trying to find that big win against Harbaugh. Harbaugh who has in my opinion the better team overall has had trouble preparing his team against division opponents as of late. St. Louis Rams and Jeff Fisher found a way to get a tie and an over time victory against the 49ers and many like myself blame both of those games on being under prepared by Harbaugh and the coaching staff. Look for trick plays and any crazy plays out of the playbooks. This is going to be a coaching mind game to watch between both of these men. Who will win the battle? I can’t wait to find out.

Well those are my three keys to watch for in this game. What are yours?

Prediction:

San Francisco 49ers beat Seattle Seahawks 24-21

The last time these two teams met the 49ers beat Seattle 13-6 on Thursday Night Football. I predict that this game will come down to a late David Akers field goal or a game winning drive from Colin Kaepernick. The 49ers are undefeated this season under the big lights of primetime nationally broadcasted games and I think they will stay that way. Jim Harbaugh and company will once again be the kryptonite for Pete Carroll thought I do believe it could not be the last time we see both of these teams this season. I believe that the 49er defense lead by Aldon Smith even with the expected loss of Justin Smith not playing will find a way to get to Russell Wilson and stop Marshawn Lynch from reaching the end zone on the ground. Can Aldon Smith get those three sacks tonight or inch closer to beating Michael Strahan’s single season sack record? Man this game is going to be good! I am ready to watch…ARE YOU?!!!

Thank you! Enjoy!

*All stats thanks to pro-football-reference.com