NFL Week 17 Preview: Seahawks vs. 49ers
The Seahawks close out their regular season with a game on the road against the worst team in the NFC, in the San Francisco 49ers. I’ll be honest here – I don’t have very much to say about this game. It should very well be a foregone conclusion. However, these are the Seahawks, and if there’s one thing they like to do, it’s make foregone conclusions anything but. Before getting to the point, there’s some new business to mention: After contemplating retirement, Earl Thomas says he’ll be back once healthy (he clearly watches the games because the pass defense has been brutal). Michael Bennett (Moses!) has signed a contract extension. Now, onto the points of emphasis for the regular season finale:
THE RUN GAME: The 49ers feature the league’s worst run defense, giving up 4.9 yards per carry. Thomas Rawls is (allegedly) healthy after leaving last week’s game against the Cardinals with a shoulder injury. Alex Collins has looked surprisingly competent as a runner and pass catcher over the last couple games. This is the perfect opportunity to finish this season on a high note when it comes to running the ball. With Carlos Hyde out for the season, the 49ers are starting Shaun Draughn. Next.
THE QUARTERBACKING: Russell Wilson seems to be getting it together after a series of games that featured him throwing the ball to the other team. While rookie DeForest Buckner may have a word or two in this argument (leads the team with 6.0 sacks), it should be an opportunity for Wilson and Seattle’s remaining skill players to get on track.
This matchup has the potential to be a bit insidious – Colin Kaepernick has managed to assemble a surprisingly acceptable season since replacing Blaine Gabbert, especially in the last three games where he has found the end zone six total times (5 passing, 1 rushing), while turning the ball over just once. Kaepernick always presents a challenge with his ability to make plays with his arm as well as his legs, but on an offense completely devoid of starting-caliber skill players, I highly doubt he gets much done.
THE PASS DEFENSE: Seattle’s pass defenders are far better players than San Francisco’s pass catchers. Well, Jeremy Kerley is pretty good, but that’s literally it.
San Francisco’s pass defenders aren’t very good. But Tyler Lockett is out for the season and Jermaine Kearse is Jermaine Kearse. I’m praying for a heavy dose of Doug Baldwin, Jimmy Graham, and Paul Richardson. With their starting linebackers gone for the season, Seattle would be wise to exploit this using multiple tight end sets as well.
Prediction: I’m predicting 2016 goes into the trash tonight. Peace and love to you all.