Originally posted on SeaTown Sports  |  Last updated 12/23/11


Seattle Seahawks (7-7) vs. San Francisco 49ers (11-3)
When: Saturday; 1:15 pm PT
Where: CenturyLink Field; Seattle, WA 
TV: FOX Channel 13 (Announcers: Ron Pitts and Charles Davis)
Radio: 710 ESPN Seattle and 97.3 KIRO FM (Announcers: Steve Raible and Warren Moon)


Coming off a big win in Chicago, the Seahawks enter this pivotal NFC West showdown against the 49ers knowing that they must win to keep their playoff hopes alive. The final home game of the year for Seattle will feature two of the hottest teams in the league. San Francisco will look to stop Seahawks RB Marshawn Lynch, who has scored a touchdown in 10 straight games, while Seattle hopes to continue their stellar defensive play. This matchup has all the makings of a defenive battle.

The stage is set for Seattle to continue their late season run to the playoffs. They must win their final two games to have any shot at the postseason, and they will need a little help along the way from a couple other teams. But first, the Seahawks must take care of business against one of the best teams in the NFL. The 49ers pose numerous threats, mainly on defense. Their rush defense has not allowed a single rushing TD all season long, and for Seattle to have any chance on Saturday, they must get Lynch into the end-zone. 

Although the running game will be a priority for Seattle, they must take some shots through the air against an average 49ers secondary. Coach Jim Harbaugh's unit likes to take chances on defense, and if they make a wrong read, Seattle's young receiving corps could find some openings. Tarvaris Jackson must play well and continue to avoid interceptions like he has the past three games. Up front, the 49ers pass rush is one to be reckoned with. Rookie Aldon Smith is a sack machine, so Seattle's beleaguered offensive line must protect Jackson so he can have time to survey the field.

During this stretch of success by the Seahawks, the offense has done what it needs to do to be successful. But the real improvement has been shown by the defense. The young, physical secondary has caused problems for opposing quarterbacks the past month and a half, and this must continue against Alex Smith. He has never had a successful outing at CenturyLink Field in his career, and for Seattle to win, the defense must force turnovers. They have historically done a nice job of holding Frank Gore in check as well, and with Seattle's stout run defense this year, look for more of the same.

Although the 49ers have a superior record this season, these teams are built very similar. They each rely on their defense to make plays throughout the game, and their offensive gameplans are conservative. By default, this signals a defensive struggle on Saturday.

Seattle must win this game to keep their playoff hopes alive heading into Week 17 at Arizona. They also need the Lions to lose to the Chargers Saturday afternoon. Both of these propositions are not out of the question. In front of the home crowd, the Seahawks will show up and play well on both sides of the ball. Nonetheless, it will be tough to beat the 49ers.

In the end, coming off a short week and having already clinched the division, the 49ers will lack the motivation to come in and play a full 60 minutes. The Seahawks on the other hand are desperate for another win, and will play with all the motivation in the world. As a result, this defensive struggle will come down to who wants it more, and that edge goes to the Seahawks. On Saturday afternoon, look for Seattle to pull out a close, low-scoring victory and for San Diego to beat Detroit to keep the Seahawks playoff aspirations alive heading into the final week of the season.

Seahawks 16-13 

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