On Thanksgiving night, the Seattle Seahawks and San Francisco 49ers are going to be on the same gridiron for the first time since last season’s NFC Championship game.
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The rivalry will be renewed on primetime TV and both teams need a win to keep their postseason hopes alive.
The Seahawks and 49ers enter the game with identical 7-4 records and their paths to those records have been similar.
They both have top-notch secondaries and dominant run defenses. On offense, both teams’ run game is dramatically more relied on and more impressive than the passing game.
One of the most important factors on Thursday night will be fatigue for both teams. The Seahawks and 49ers had tough games on Sunday and will only get four days rest before going at it again with their biggest NFL rival.
Seattle has not yet won a game in San Francisco in the Russell Wilson era, but this game will be in Santa Clara so maybe the Seahawks luck will change.
Here are some predictions for Thursday’s game:
1. Marshawn Lynch has 110 all-purpose yards and a touchdown.
Lynch was pretty much shut down by the Arizona Cardinals last week, but he will be much more productive against a 49ers defense that has been inconsistent this season.
Last week, the 49ers allowed the Redskins’ Alfred Morris to run for 125 yards on 21 carries, a week after they allowed 66 total rushing yards to the New York Giants.
In eight career games against the 49ers, Lynch has averaged 19 carries for 85 yards and he put up 20-72-1 in San Francisco last year. Those would be great numbers to have and if you add in the fact that Wilson has started throwing the ball to him more on quick screens, he could break the century mark in all-purpose yards.
The only thing that would hold him back (no pun intended) would be his back, which has been back-and-forth in health status all season.
Hopefully his back is back to normal for this game — Seattle needs Lynch badly. OK, I know I said “back” way too many times there. Moving on.
2. Doug Baldwin leads Seattle with six catches, 55 yards.
Baldwin has been held in check all season long, but not really because of opposing defenses. He just hasn’t been in the gameplan much.
Seattle might be wise to spread the ball around if the 49ers stack the box to try to contain Lynch.
I would love to see Angry Doug Baldwin put up bigger numbers but 55 yards already seems like too many. Nevertheless, he will be Seattle’s top receiver on Thursday.
3. Seahawks defense allows fewer than 300 total yards.
The 49ers have a pretty good run game but their passing game is average if not below it.
Shutting down Gore and keeping Colin Kaepernick in the pocket will be the key to stopping this offense.
Kaepernick is like Wilson in the fact that he doesn’t throw the ball much and therefore doesn’t have a bonafide No. 1 receiver (though Anquan Boldin is starting to turn into one).
Unlike Wilson, however, Kaepernick has shown struggles outside of the pocket with his arm. More than likely, if he gets pressured he will just start running and that could be the Achilles for the Seahawks defense.
But if they can keep him in the pocket, they won’t need to worry about that.
All in all, Seattle is capable of containing the 49ers. Now they just need to show they can.
4. Seahawks win, 27-17.
Seattle is hot right now, winners of three of their last four and they probably could have beaten the Chiefs a few weeks ago. The 49ers meanwhile have struggled to win their last three games, winning unconvincingly to the New Orleans Saints, New York Giants and Redskins.
The rivalry will make it more competitive but the defending champs are hungry, and not just because it’s Thanksgiving.
They want the chance to defend their title and they have to win to do that.
I like the Seahawks in this one.