The Seahawks come into the game as one of the hottest teams in the NFL. They will be coming off back-to-back weeks of scoring over 50 points. They also have a playoff berth on the line.
Both teams have a lot to prove and the significance is obvious. The 49ers, however, have even more at stake. Sunday night's game will be the most important game the 49ers have played this season.
Sunday's game has significant playoff ramifications. The entire NFC should be tuned into the game. What's at stake?
The Seahawks have not clinched a playoff berth yet. Winning Sunday will secure them a spot.
The 49ers have clinched a playoff spot, but will be looking to clinch the division on Sunday. Seattle currently sits at No. 2 in the NFC West and could win the division with two wins and two 49er's losses. The Niners would most likely still clinch the division with Arizona still on the schedule, but anything can happen.
The 49ers may not have to worry about getting into the playoffs, and they probably aren't too worried about losing the division, but they will definitely be thinking about playoff seeding on Sunday.
A win over the Seahawks would keep them in the driver seat for the No. 2 seed in the NFC. The 49ers will be thinking about home field advantage and an extra week off as they prepare for Sunday's clash.
Sunday night's game is like a playoff game in that odds are high that both teams will be in the playoffs. Both teams have great defenses and surging offenses. This means that it is definitely a test against a playoff-caliber opponent.
Seattle is a very difficult place to play. The Seahawks have some of the best fans in all of sport. Expect this to be the loudest game of the season. The Niners might be able to play with home field until the NFC championship game, but if they can win in Seattle, they won't need to be too worried about where they play from here on out.
This is also a great test for young Colin Kaepernick. Seattle has two of the best cover corners in the game right now. That defense will make things very difficult for the second year man. This could be his most difficult test yet. The 49ers chose him over Alex Smith because they believe that he can beat teams and Smith couldn't. Sunday will be a great litmus test of where he is really at in his development.
Aldon Smith needs three sacks to tie the NFL record for sacks in a season of 22.5, set by Michael Strahan.
This may not make the game meaningful to the team but it will certainly add interest for Smith and 49er fans everywhere. Actually, the record should really be given to the entire team, due to their ability to draw offensive linemen away from the sack specialist. I'm guessing the whole defense will take ownership of this record.
Aldon needs 3.5 to break the record and it won't be easy. Russell Wilson is a scrambling quarterback who can make defenders miss. It won't be easy to bring him down. If Smith can't get a sack or two on Sunday, he would need to get all three against Arizona the following week. That's not out of the question, but bringing down Wilson would certainly give him more confidence.
Smith has competition this season as well. J.J. Watt pulled even with Smith last week, when Smith failed to get a sack against Miami. Look for them both to be aggressive this week as they try and claim ownership of the record.
Jim Harbaugh and Pete Carroll have been duking it out since their times at Stanford and USC. They can say what they like, but the bottom line is that they don't like each other.
Ever since the infamous "what's your deal" game, the two have been butting heads. Their competitive fire keeps the final handshake interesting every time.
Great coaches make you want to win for them. When the players know their coach has issues with another coach, they get motivated.
As if being in the same division wasn't enough for these teams to fight about, now they are playing for their coaches' pride as well.
Call it a coincidence or a curse, but the 49ers can't like the way this season has looked.
So far the 49ers results look like this: Win, WIn, Loss, Win, Win, Loss, Win, Win, Tie, Win, Win, Loss, Win, Win . . . ???
Every third game has been a letdown for San Francisco. If the pattern continues, they will not win on Sunday. If it continues after that, they would be looking at a divisional round loss.
The saving grace for the Niners is that a few of those letdowns have come against weaker teams. They have played well against good competition and will hope to continue that streak Sunday night.
The 49ers have played in a lot of big games this season. Why aren't they more important?
The New England game was probably the closest. It was a great test for the defense and was crucial for the 49ers' playoff hopes. However, the Patriots defense is not as strong as Seattle's. Their crowd isn't as loud and they aren't in their division.
The 49ers have also had big games against the Packers, Giants, Saints and the Seahawks (the first time the two teams met). This game comes later in the season with two very hot teams, and it will be the biggest test for Colin Kaepernick yet.
Regardless of how this game compares to others, it is important. The 49ers will have to be at their best if the want to get a win in Seattle.
Agree or disagree? Let me know in the comments below!