A few weeks ago it seemed as if the 49ers were going to run away with the NFC West. They have proven that they are mortal, though, and, as a result, the division is totally wide open. That makes this game huge for this time of the year. These two teams are tied with the Cardinals atop the division at 4-2, but Arizona looks like a team that has peaked and is on the decline already. That makes it likely that one of these two squads will win the division, and the winner here will have scored an important victory in that war.
A contest between two teams like these would always be interesting — and a potential defensive clinic. It’s even more interesting in this case, though, given the coaches involved. Both Jim Harbaugh and Pete Carroll have proven themselves to be exceptional coaches, and both enjoyed great success in the Pac-10 before their current job. They are two very different guys with different approaches, but both certainly leave you with the impression that their success is no fluke. Given how wildly competitive they both are, you can also be sure that they are even more motivated than usual to beat a coach that they can’t help but be compared to. It’s another wrinkle in what has the potential to turn into an exceptional rivalry in the next few seasons.
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Seahawks at 49ers Betting Storylines
To try to understand what is going to happen in this game you obviously have to start with the 49ers and their disaster of a game last week. They had every reason to succeed — they were at home and out for revenge against a Giants team they would have beaten in the playoffs last year if they could field punts. New York had been good this year but far from great, and should have been vulnerable.
Instead of coming out ready for war, though, San Francisco looked unprepared, confused, and chaotic. It would have been off-putting for any team, but when we have seen that this team can be pretty close to perfect when they want to be it was particularly shocking.
You can’t even point a finger in just one place because the whole team was bad. Alex Smith was terrible. The running game never got established. The usually potent defense was a shadow of itself. It was just plain terrible.
The question now, of course, is whether that is likely to happen again. The best clue I think we can get is from recent history. At Minnesota in the third week of the season the Niners were also unexpectedly bad. It was a very humbling loss. They showed no lingering effects, though, as they came out fighting against the Jets and beat them 34-0 in one of the most dominant games any team has played all year. They shook that loss off, so it is very possible, and perhaps even probable, that they will do the same here. I’m not at all convinced that what happened last week should factor significantly into what you expect from this week.
The aspect of the Seahawks that has gotten the most attention is their defense. That is well deserved — they are Top 5 in a number of very important statistical categories, and they have shown strength against both the run and the pass. Last week’s win against the Patriots, though, showed that they can be exploited — even if the Patriots couldn’t completely do so. In the first five games of the season no team managed 300 yards of total offense against the Seahawks. New England amassed 475. That didn’t turn into enough points for New England to win, but it did show that an offense with some depth and creativity can find ways to move the ball.
When San Francisco’s offense is working — the exact opposite of what happened last week — they are as good as almost any team at finding multiple ways to cause pain. San Francisco’s offense versus Seattle’s defense is the key matchup here, and your viewpoint on how it turns out should shape your view of the game.
Russell Wilson got a lot of credit for leading last week’s comeback, and he has generally earned respect this season overall. While I am a fan of him and was high on him after watching him several games at Wisconsin last year, I think it’s important to keep what he has done in perspective. Last week he faced a New England secondary that was really, really bad. They were young and disorganized, and he was able to take advantage. He has yet to show consistency, and he has not yet faced a defense nearly as good as this San Francisco one can be. While his accomplishments last week and overall hint at a bright future, I think it’s important to temper expectations this week.
Seahawks at 49ers NFL Odds and Betting Trends
The game opened with the 49ers favored by as many as nine points, but the line has moved down since, and can now be found at the key number of seven. About two-thirds of bets have been on the Niners, so the movement suggests that smart money isn’t buying into them in this spot. The total opened at 38.5, and has moved down slightly to 37.5.
The Seahawks face strong, conflicting trends here. They are 0-4 ATS in their last four against their division, but they are 6-0 ATS in their last six as an underdog of less than 10 points. The home team is 5-1 ATS in the last six meetings of these teams, and Seattle is a lousy 2-5 ATS the last seven times they have played in San Francisco.
NFL Picks: Seahawks at 49ers Predictions
I have some concerns about which San Francisco team will show up. Ultimately, though, the San Francisco defense is capable of making things very difficult for Russell Wilson, and the Niners offense is capable of moving the ball against Seattle. San Francisco has an edge on both sides of the ball, so it’s hard not to pick them — even if they are lacking mojo right now. If the spread were much bigger than I would be second guessing, but as long as it can be had at just a touchdown the Niners are the pick here.
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