The Seattle Seahawks will beat the San Francisco 49ers when the two teams meet for an epic rematch on Sunday night.
Such a win will not come easily, however, and Seattle will need to play four complete quarters if they are going to get by Jim Harbaugh and his angry glare.
This game is, in a word, big. Both teams will want to maintain momentum as they march towards the playoffs.
While the Niners may be in the best position to win the division, Seattle could still catch them and shake up the playoff picture.
With that in mind, here are five reasons that the 'Hawks will outlast the Niners and come up with a big win in front of a national audience on Sunday night.
This Seattle team has been built on the running game throughout the entire season, and this game should be no exception. Russell Wilson may be having more success in the passing game recently, but that doesn't change the fact that Marshawn Lynch is still the first option on offense.
Beast Mode is running very well, and that should continue against San Francisco. The Niners have the third-best run defense in the NFL (courtesy of ESPN.com), which means that pounding the ball will not be an easy task.
Still, Seattle's offensive line is playing with more consistency and they are opening up holes for the team's bruising running back.
Lynch put up 113 and 128 yards against some fairly poor run defenses over the last two weeks, but he also ran for 103 yards when the ‘Hawks played San Francisco the first time around.
If Marshawn can run for 125 yards and a touchdown or two, it will go a long way towards a Seahawks victory.
It has been fun to watch the maturation of Russell Wilson throughout the season. You could argue that Wilson is not necessarily playing like a rookie, as he has shown great poise and confidence that is well beyond his years.
If my math is right, Wilson’s average quarterback rating is 113.6 over the last six games. Quarterback rating is not the only measure of success, but it certainly provides an idea of general effectiveness.
Wilson has only thrown one interception in those six games, and he has developed into a genuine threat with his arm and his feet.
You have to imagine that Wilson will be prepared for his second meeting with San Francisco. In addition, the receivers will hopefully drop fewer passes this time.
The young quarterback will be ready to lead the team to victory.
All sports are strongly influenced by confidence, and right now the Seahawks have to be feeling pretty good about their performances over the last couple weeks.
After a heartbreaking loss in Miami, Seattle has won three straight and put up 108 points in two games.
You could certainly argue that San Francisco also has positive momentum after getting a big win against the New England Patriots on the road last week. In fact, the Niners have won four out of their last five.
Still, it is easy to go with the team that has won three in a row and is coming home to an appreciative crowd.
Right now the Seahawks have a lot of momentum to carry them forward.
Blowing out teams will do that for you.
This is going to be a defensive battle, and while the Seahawks may be able to score more points than in the first meeting between the two sides, this game will be won in the trenches.
Seattle is giving up 15.6 points per game this season, the exact same number as the 49ers, although San Francisco has given up one less point than Seattle in 2012.
Frank Gore may get his yardage, but Seattle still has a fantastic defense that will be prepared for this game.
Indications are that Richard Sherman will likely be on the field (via ESPN), which will make a big difference in the secondary.
Will the 49ers be drowned out by the immense noise at CenturyLink Field?
Will young Colin Kaepernick be intimidated by the Seahawk faithful and melt under the pressure?
The 49ers are an experienced team, and they will not be easily frightened.
Still, the Seahawks are 6-0 at home for a reason. Seattle is a tough place to play, and one has to assume that the stadium will be rocking on Sunday night.
If anything, Seattle may draw more confidence from their home-field advantage now that they are having more success on the road. When a team can win away from home, it gives them the sense that they can win anywhere.
The Clink will play a role in this game, and it will likely be a positive source of emotional energy.
The Niners should fear the 12th Man in Seattle.