Originally written on NorthWest Sports Beat  |  Last updated 12/23/12
The Hawks playoff hopes are at stake. This is it. The upstart Seahawks have erupted and shocked the NFL this season, led by Rookie of The Year candidate and American hero Russell Wilson. Here are the keys to arguably the Seahawks biggest game of the season. If Wilson Brings his A+ Game Russell Wilson has been the catalyst for the Seahawks surprising success this season. Wilson’s arm, legs, and brain have picked apart defenses this year. A solid runner, great passer, and outstanding decision-maker, Wilson has displayed maturity, leadership, and confidence beyond his years. In the last game against San Francisco, Wilson completed an atrocious 9 of 23 passes for 122 yards, with one interception. Calls for Matt Flynn could be heard. But now he’s leading the league in QBR over the last six weeks, throwing a remarkable 11 touchdowns and one interception in that span. Wilson 2.0 will need to show up to this game. If Our D-Line Gets Some Huge Stops Last year San Francisco’s ground game rocked Seattle, as Frank Gore rushed to the tune of 131 yards. Gore also owns the two highest single-game yardage records for the 49ers, with games of 212 and 207 yards. Both were against Seattle. The Hawks will need to limit Gore. San Francisco has a strong offensive line, and injured left tackle Joe Staley has been cleared to return from a concussion to play. Let’s also not forget Gore’s primary backup, the electric LaMichael James, who torched the Patriots last weekend on a 62 yard kick return that gave the Niners a much needed boost. But Gore is the primary threat to Seattle’s playoff dreams. The Seahawks offensive line HAVE to give Marshawn Lynch and Robert Turbin room on Sunday night. If The Offensive Line Gives Our RB’s Opportunities The flip side is we’ll need our offensive line to give Marshawn Lynch and Robert Turbin room to work with. San Francisco starting defensive tackle Justin Smith is questionable for the game, which would help the Seahawks. Marshawn Lynch is actually second in the NFL in rushing yards, which has garnered less attention because Adrian Peterson is having such a ridiculous season. But Lynch has produced 1379 yards and ten touchdowns this season. Seattle will need to prove they can make plays on the ground, which leaves a lot riding on the line. If The Secondary Holds Up With Brandon Browner suspended and Richard Sherman potentially too (although he tweeted the other day that he would play), a lot may ride on backups Marcus Trufant and Walter Thurmond, both of whom have nagging injury issues. Luckily, San Francisco’s biggest threat at wide receiver, the recently hot Michael Crabtree, shouldn’t be impossible for Sherman to mark up if he plays. Mario Manningham is still out with a shoulder injury, so the only other concern for the Seahawks is athletic tight end Vernon Davis, who is a potential matchup problem. Seattle’s vaunted defense will need to live up to its reputation. If The Clink Is As Rowdy As Ever This is the easiest. A playoff spot is on the line. The Seahawks are the hottest thing in the NFL. This is arguably the biggest game of the year. CenturyLink field is going to be loud. Seattle lives or dies on this game, and we’ll need every bit of that vaunted home field advantage. No one has beaten the Seahawks at home since last Christmas Eve. The last team to win in Seattle? The Niners.  This is going to be bloody. Two very similar teams in many regards-new quarterbacks, elite running backs, suffocating defenses-will clash in Century Link, with the NFC west potentially on the line. Look for a defensive battle, with the 12th man giving the Hawks a boost. CLICK HERE CHECK OUT THE SEAHAWKS BLOG IN OUR CLUBHOUSE AT NWSB!
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