Wow am I excited. I am so jacked for this game, its a shame I might miss it. Anyway, back to the grind.
Whether or not you or the Hawks realize it, this is a huge game. The 49ers are good, and you can bet the house they'll come out ready to knock some heads. For years that team has been a bottom feeder of one of the worst divisions in football. In Week One, they knocked the Cardinals into a daze and grabbed media attention. Second on the checklist is Seattle.
To add to the importance of the contest, the Hawks need to stockpile wins early, when the weather is sunny and dry. Relying on the passing attack in a cold blustery winter afternoon is not a good strategy.
Keys to a Seahawk Victory
1. Absorbing the niner pass rush. The main reason for the 49er overthrow of Arizona was their ability to collapse the pocket. Kurt Warner was constantly throwing off his back foot all day, which led to two picks and a fumble.
Granted, even the current battered assembly of starting lineman is better than the Cardinals. This, however, doesn't mean Hasselbeck can't suffer the same fate as Warner.
The 49ers secondary is not good, and can be easily picked apart by even a Kyle Orton if he's given time. On offense, keeping Hasselbeck upright may be the biggest "have to," to win.
2. Neutralizing the niner ground game. In other words, how will Shaun Hill's arm beat you? Trick question, it can't. He's there to manage the game, not win or lose it himself. Singletary will pound the run and play smashmouth football, not throw the ball like little sissy teams.
What I'm trying to get to is that Frank Gore can take over a game. The Cardinals were able to hold him until it counted, the Seahawks need hit him hard early, often and then finish the job.
I'll take my chances with Shaun Hill.
3. Establish at least the threat of a run game. Betting on game changing runs against San Francisco's backers is generally not a good idea. On the other hand, you can't become one dimensional against a defense this good.
Julius Jones won't have to run for 100 yards with three scores on Sunday. He will be used sparingly to keep the defense at least a little hesitant. He will not have the game of his life, but if he checks out, it could end up costing this team a trip to the playoffs.
Trying to beat the 49ers at their own game shouldn't be your gameplan, but giving them a little taste of their own medicine doesn't hurt.
Matchup to Watch: TE John Carlson vs. LB Patrick Willis
Carlson is a stud, and he'll have to play like one. This week he'll take on the role of a possession receiver. His job will be to move chains and provide a big target for Matt when he's under heat.
That's sounds great and all, but he'll have to do it against super talented linebacker Patrick Willis. Willis' job will be to jack Carlson whenever he gets the chance, and disrupt the timing between the tight end and his quarterback.
Whoever wins this battle scores major credits for their respective teams chances at winning.
This game will be the game we see Knapp open up his trick playbook. It'll be a game in which old school smashmouth football clashes with intricate passing and creative trickeries.
What a game this will be.
Prediction: San Francisco 23, Seattle 20