Going into the 2013 I figured this Sunday’s game would be the most important one of the year for this team. Like many others, I anticipated that the Seahawks would be in a tight divisional race with the 49ers all season and as a result this game would be crucial. I figured/hoped that the Seahawks would be able to beat San Francisco at home so the way I saw it the Seahawks could claim the division for their own with a win at Candlestick. Fortunately, I was very, very wrong.
Right now the gap between the Seahawks and 49ers is so large that the 49ers cannot win the division without winning out. A loss to the Seahawks on Sunday will mean they that Seattle clinches the NFC West title for the first time since 2010. The way Seattle is playing right now it’s well within the realm of possibility that the Seahawks win the division with twice as many wins as they had last time they won the NFC West. That really shouldn’t be possible but it would be fairly hilarious.
The fact of the matter is that although the Seahawks can clinch the division this week, the game isn’t THAT important. Beating the 49ers would be satisfying and they present a good road test but the division is already as good as won at this point. It would take an epic collapse for the Seahawks to fall out of the NFC West lead, and even the NFC top seed lead. If the Saints and Panthers could split their series that would be especially nice, but that’s beside the point.
The point is that Sunday has a distinct feeling of anti-climax. Monday night’s game was more important than this one and the Seahawks triumphed in magnificent fashion. This one can’t help but feel a little bit hollow by comparison. Coming into 2013 there were people who called the Seahawks-49ers the best rivalry in football right now, but a rivalry drawn from importance in the standings as opposed to history is a more fragile one. These teams still don’t like each other and there will be many classic matchups to come between the two, but this just doesn’t seem like one of them.
Don’t get me wrong, this game is definitely going to be worth watching. There is a rivalry to see here and this is a good road test. The 49ers are coming on strong right now and this isn’t going to be an easy win by any stretch of the imagination. Even after Seattle’s dominant showing against the Saints they may well go on the road and lose to the 49ers. The problem for me is that it doesn’t feel like a must win. Last week felt like a must win because a loss lead to a nightmare scenario of trying to win a playoff game in New Orleans. Now all the other NFC teams are dealing with their own nightmare scenario of doing battle with the 12th Man in Seattle.
I can’t believe that I’d ever have problems getting excited for a game against the 49ers and I’m sure by the time kickoff rolls around my heart will be racing a little bit just like everyone else’s. It’s just that the Saints game was such a high I don’t think it can be matched for me until the playoffs. This game that I thought was going to be the biggest of the year feels like a bit of a letdown. That’s largely based on my sky-high expectations, but it still feels strange.
The intensity of this game will have to come from the product on the field as opposed to the ramifications in the standings. If some of the recent games between these two teams are any indication, that shouldn’t be a problem.