49ers vs. Seahawks: Breaking Down How Seattle Can Pull Off Upset Sunday Night

Gary DavenportNFL AnalystDecember 22, 2012

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - OCTOBER 18:  Center Max Unger #50 prepares to snap the ball against the San Francisco 49ers in the first quarter on October 18, 2012 at Candlestick Park in San Francisco, California.  The 49ers won 13-6.  (Photo by Brian Bahr/Getty Images)
Brian Bahr/Getty Images

It's a Christmas present for football fans.

The last game of Week 16 has the potential to be the best. For the second straight week, the San Francisco 49ers are on the road on Sunday night, this time to face the Seattle Seahawks in a huge NFC West showdown.

The Seahawks are as hot as any team in the NFL, winning five of their last six games. Last week they became the first team in more than half a century to score 50 points in consecutive games. But the 49ers have already beaten Seattle once this season and will sew up their second straight NFC West title with a victory.

The winner of this game may well come down to which young quarterback performs better.

That means it's important that rookie Russell Wilson continue to play at a high level. Wilson, who has thrown 11 touchdown passes against only one interception since Week 9, knows he'll need to continue to protect the football, according to Greg Garber of ESPN.

"The key is protecting the ball, making the right play at the right time," Wilson said. "You can't shy away from the moment. It will be a war, a sight to see.

But if the Seahawks are going to win and tighten things up in the division, it's important that the defense do its part as well and get after San Francisco quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who has played well since taking over as the starter.

Kaepernick had his best game as a pro in last week's big win over the New England Patriots, throwing four touchdown passes. And as cornerback Richard Sherman told Doug Farrar of Yahoo! Sports, Kaepernick's mobility adds a new wrinkle to the 49ers' attack.

It helps that I've seen it all before, except for that Wishbone/Pistol stuff they now run [with Kaepernick]. The coaches have a great game plan, and they know how to prepare for it. I recognize a lot of the stuff, but recognizing it and stopping it are two different things. It's not too hard to recognize what they do, regardless of what formations they're in. You know what's coming, but can you stop it?

Luckily for Sherman and the Seahawks, the team has an ace up its sleeve that could turn out to be one of the deciding factors in this contest.

There's probably no more raucous crowd in the NFL than in Seattle, and the "12th Man" is going to be in full throat given that this is a night game. That could make life unpleasant for a young signal-caller like Kaepernick, who has never played in an environment akin to CenturyLink Field.

And that may be exactly what it takes. This is a game of two evenly matched teams with similar philosophies. In battles such as these, more often than not winning is all about executing and catching a break or two.

Like the fans did with this being the last game of Week 16.