Why Week 14 Matchup with Seahawks Is Make or Break for 49ers' Super Bowl Hopes

Phil G@FuturePhilGCorrespondent IDecember 3, 2013

SEATTLE - SEPTEMBER 15:  Colin Kaepernick #7 of the San Francisco 49ers escapes the tackle of Michael Bennett #72 of the Seattle Seahawks on September 15, 2013 at Century Link Field in Seattle, Washington.  (Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images)
Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images

The San Francisco 49ers (8-4) will host the Seattle Seahawks (11-1) in what should be the highlight game of Week 14. 

Now, this game won't be as flashy as the Week 2 matchup between these divisional rivals. Also, it’s all but certain that the Seahawks have locked up the NFC West crown.

Regardless if the Seahawks lose a game or two down the stretch, even 49ers fans would admit the difficulty of overtaking the division this late in the season. 

No, this matchup won't be about the standings. Rather, this game will be about pride.

Here are three reasons why this Week 14 matchup between the 49ers and Seahawks could make or break the San Francisco's Super Bowl hopes. 


1. Entrance into the Playoffs Is No Guarantee

While many expect the 49ers to secure one of the two wild-card spots, nothing is guaranteed in the NFL. The 49ers still have to fend off a few NFC teams, including one within their own division in the Arizona Cardinals.

49ers Remaining Opponents
15Tampa Bay Buccaneers3-9Raymond James Stadium (R)
16Atlanta Falcons3-9Candlestick Park (H)
17Arizona Cardinals7-5University of Phoenix Stadium (R)
Weeks 15-17

As you saw above, the 49ers remaining schedule isn't anything to write home about, at least record-wise. Before facing the Cardinals in Week 17, the 49ers will face two NFC South teams who currently sport a combined 6-18 record. 

Granted, both teams—the Atlanta Falcons and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, are far more talented than their records indicate, especially Atlanta. And don't disregard the Bucs, who have won three of their last four games.  

If the 49ers lose to the Seahawks in Week 14, their road to the playoffs will become far tougher, especially if the Cardinals win. A win against the Seahawks this Sunday will likely all but lock up a playoff berth for Jim Harbaugh and Co., but first they have to make it to the big dance. 

As we saw from the last two Super Bowl Champions, sneaking into the playoffs can work out rather well.  

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - DECEMBER 1: Linebacker Patrick Willis #52 of the San Francisco 49ers gestures after sacking quarterback Kellen Clemens #10 of the St. Louis Rams during the third quarter of their game on December 1, 2013 at Candlestick Park in San Fran
Stephen Lam/Getty Images


2. Confidence 

Both Seattle and San Francisco have a certain respect for one another, but neither believes it is the inferior team. Still, the Seahawks seem to have the advantage based off their last two resounding wins over the Niners, as Pete Carroll's squad outscored its NFC West foe by a combined 71-16.  

The catch? Well, the Seahawks' last two victories have come at home. Everyone and anyone knows how the formidable the Seahawks are at CenturyLink Field. 

Fortunately for the 49ers, this game will be played at Candlestick Park. 

This means the excuses will have run dry if the 49ers can't secure a victory. It means the Seahawks are the better team regardless of the location. 

How will this affect the 49ers confidence if these two teams eventually meet up in the postseason? This matchup in Week 14 will go a long way in telling us. 


3. Record Against Teams Above. 500

Before I explain, look at the chart below. 

49ers vs. Teams Above .500
Seattle Seahawks29-3Loss
Indianapolis Colts27-7Loss
Arizona Cardinals32-20Win
Carolina Panthers10-9Loss
New Orleans Saints23-20Loss
vs. Winning Teams

The 49ers are 1-4 against teams above .500 this season. If that isn't a cause of concern, I don't know what is. 

How can a team with so much talent struggle against winning teams? Well, the answer is pretty simple.

When combining shoddy play-calling and a handful of key injuries, you have the 2013 49ers. We could also chalk it up to complacency, though this hasn't really been an issue the last few weeks. 

The 49ers could make a statement with a victory this Sunday. A victory could show us that the 49ers of yesteryear are still somewhat alive. 

Could this matchup between the Seahawks and 49ers be a possible playoff preview? Maybe, but who knows.

What I do know is that this matchup will determine whether the 49ers are true contenders in the NFC. 






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