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Week 17 Showdown: 49ers vs. Seahawks Battle For Best in the West
The 49ers and Seahawks have been among the top-ranked NFL teams all season long and this Sunday they’ll face-off in what promises to be an epic regular season finale, with the NFC West Division, playoff seeding and NFC crown all at stake.
NFC West Division Up For Grabs
The whole playoff structure could be completely transformed in Week 17 when the 49ers travel to CenturyLink Field to take on the Seattle Seahawks. The winner of this division rivalry will win the NFC West and lock up home field for the playoffs, while the losing team will fall to the 5th seed.
49ers Seeking Revenge
In week 10, after a heartbreaking last second OT field goal gave the Seahawks a win over the then undefeated 49ers, the San Francisco squad and the 49er Faithful have been salivating for a rematch. The 49ers were marred with injuries during that game, however, which included team leader George Kittle, top receiving threat Emmanuel Sanders, and both starting tackles. A now healthier 49er lineup could be a game changer in this season finale.
Once coach Jim Harbaugh was ousted at the end of the 2014 season, the Red and Gold began an era of mediocrity and ultimately disappointment, that shut the door on any true and sustained rivalry with the Seahawks. But, with the offensive genius of coach Kyle Shanahan, who has righted the franchise ship to a winning record, and Seahawks QB Russell Wilson carrying his team with superb playmaking ability, this rivalry has been reignited, especially with both teams sitting atop the NFC. Former Seahawk Richard Sherman, who was recently named 49er Pro Bowl cornerback, will also be hungry to get his first victory in Seattle since leaving the team just two seasons ago.
The 12th Man
One obstacle the 49ers must overcome is the ability to win on Seattle’s turf. In their last 10 games at CenturyLink Field, the 49ers have an abysmal 1-9 record, with their last win coming in 2011. Although the 49ers have won an impressive 6 of their 7 road games this season, Seattle is perennially the team’s most challenging away game.
Signs of Vulnerability
Despite both teams sporting league-leading records, each has showed signs of vulnerability. After a 5-game winning streak where Russell Wilson was playing at an MVP level, Seattle lost 28-12 to a middling Rams team. They also failed to put away a subpar Panthers squad. In Week 15, following huge wins against the Packers and Saints and a narrowly lost game vs. the Ravens, San Francisco lost to the Atlanta Falcons, whose season was virtually ended weeks ago, on a last second touchdown from Julio Jones.
Critical Home Field Factor
In the last 7 years, only one wildcard squad has made the Super Bowl, and that was the 2013 49ers team who boasted a 12-4 regular season record. The winner of this NFC West clash will earn at least one home playoff game which significantly increases chances of a postseason run. Seattle knows just how pivotal home field is come playoff time. During the post-season, the Seahawks have enjoyed an 11-0 record at home since 2005, compared to a dreadful 2-7 on the road.
Whatever the outcome of Sunday’s showdown, this rivalry has no doubt been restored and fans can look forward to these talented, powerhouse teams battling it out in seasons to come.