Josh and Dan have decided to collaborate weekly on a debate over one game from their weekly predictions. You can join our group and get email updates each week to make sure you don't miss it.
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For the last 6 years, Seattle was my home...and so these eyes have seen a lot of Seahawks football over that time. Qwest field is one of the most beautiful football stadiums out there...you can see the Cascades and the Olympics from the walkway that circles the stadium...and Seattle fans are some of the loudest out there. But, alas, this game is not in Qwest field...no this game will be played on Bill Walsh field in Monster Park at Candlestick Point...yeah, just on stadium names alone, Seattle's efficiency is evident.
Naming issues aside, when looking at this game, there are only 3 names you need to consider. Just 3 names will tell you why Seattle will walk away from San Francisco with a win.
He's of to a great start to the season, and is in a mind meld with Holmgren. He's a vastly underrated QB, a perfect fit for the system, and has been in that same system for 5+ years...which any QB will tell you is huge. He has a great group of WRs to throw too...a great line about Tom Brady is "Brady's favorite WR is the open one" couldn't be more true of Matt as well...as Branch, Engram, and Burelson all have over 10 catches. This game is going to be tight...and having a proven QB to take a team through the final minutes will be the difference.
On the other side we have Alex Smith. First off, he was the #1 pick over all in 2005...and here we are 2007...and his QB rating for the season is 64.7 so far this year...yuck. He's thrown 1, yes, 1 TD pass...and has been sacked 7 times. These aren't really the stats of a #1 overall pick. Why hasn't the word "Bust" been uttered about this guy? Even if it's just a murmur? He's the QB of an offense that has only managed 20, 17, and 16 points this year...that's just sad...especially when 2 of those efforts came against the "stout" defenses of the Cardinals and the Rams! If the game is on the line...would you want Alex Smith leading your team?
Yes, I know he's the Chargers coach, and yes, I know he has no bearing on this game....but that's exactly why he's important. Last year the 49ers beat the Hawks twice...and a big reason for it was Norv's offense. He was able to get the most out of the pieces they have, and his absence is a big reason they have struggled on offense this year. He's a terrible head coach, but he's a fantastic offensive coordinator...and he was the one that gave the 49ers enough fire power to beat Seattle twice...and now he's imploding the Chargers.
One final thought before I turn it over to you, Dan. Seattle will always be one of those teams that flies under the radar...even in their Super Bowl season they sort of "snuck" in...because they are located in the far corner of the country. They're sort of forgotten about up there...and they do quite well being a present "surprise" each year.
Take it away Dan.
It's been said many times that Seattle is bad on the road. But I don't think people realize quite HOW bad.
For the past 4 years, during which the Seahawks have been a perennial playoff team in the NFC West, they have not beaten a single playoff team on the road. The teams they've beaten have averaged a .346 winning percentage in those seasons. Only one came against a team with a winning record (last year at Denver), and three against 8-8 teams (St. Louis in 06, New Orleans and Minnesota in 04).
And get this: even those four teams were in the middle or at the beginning of major slumps at the time. St. Louis was at the start of a 5-game losing streak. Denver was in the middle of a 4-game slide. New Orleans didn't beat a single respectable team that year until a 4-game streak at the end of the season; the Seattle loss was the season opener. And Minnesota's loss to Seattle was the second of four losses in their final five games, which cost them the playoffs.
Even in their Super Bowl season, when they finished 13-3, they didn't get a single road win against a team who finished with more than 6 wins!
That is the major reason I'm picking against the 'Hawks. The 49ers are playing solid defense so far, and they have the tools to stop Hasselbeck and Alexander. The secondary can handle Branch, Burleson, and Engram with Clements, Harris and Shawntae Spencer, who's been a nice surprise.
I completely agree with you about Norv Turner's effect on this team, but I think a defensive touchdown will put them over the top and they'll beat Seattle.
Yes, the Hawks road woes fresh in my mind...having seen it in action for many years. They are a different team at home...they lost to the Cardinals on the road for crying out loud...wait...man...not supposed to give you ammo...why can't I keep my mouth shut?
There has been no greater constant the last few years than, the Hawks are terrible on the road. Look around through the league, and you won't find a more disturbing trend...and every Hawk fan out there will wince at the mention of "on the road"...but like all trends...this one will end, and it will end this week. Why? Simple...
Over the last few months, my Daughter has been on a Mac and Cheese kick...no matter what is offered or what we're having for dinner...her response was always "Mac and Cheese". We would go out to eat, and she says "What Mac and Cheese" to the waiter...it's an expected thing. My Wife and I offer other suggestions, wanting her to eat anything other than Mac and Cheese...and then a strange thing happened...2 nights ago...I asked "Would you like Mac and Cheese?" Already removing the container from the fridge...and a little voice says, "Don't want Mac and Cheese Daddy, want Peanut Butter Jelly."
Often at the moment you accept a trend as reality...that is the moment it corrects itself. This is the Peanut Butter Jelly week for the Hawks. Their last road game was a brutal wake up call...to lose on a botched handoff exchange to the Cardinals...the Cardinals...was a huge smack in the face. This veteran team is sick of Mac and Cheese...it longs for the sweet goodness of Jelly on Peanut Butter.
Besides, the win last year by the 49ers, it was the first time they beat the Hawks at home since 2002. And while this Niners team is on the right path, they're at least another year away from being a playoff team....only 1 playoff team is coming out of the West, and it will be the Hawks.
Aren't you glad I'm not one of those FanNationers who will respond with "What does Mac and Cheese have to do with football?" Cuz, you see, I have a sense of humor and appreciation for good metaphor, even though we all know metaphor proves nothing.
So while we're tossing out crazy theories, such as that a 4-year old trend will suddenly disappear because the Seahawks are craving some PB & J, here's one: Vernon Davis' injury will help the 49ers' offense.
Here's why: Alex Smith will be forced to use his wide receivers more. He won't have Davis as a short-route-check-down-dump-off option. And he'll find that he actually can make a good throw and fit the ball in a tight spot. Amidst all the talk about Smith's 1 TD in 83 pass attempts, the fact that he's also only thrown 1 INT seems to get lost. His problem is being too careful, too much of a manager, not willing to gamble. That probably comes from having Trent Dilfer as a mentor. So anyway, Smith will throw some longer passes, which will force the defense to back out of the box a little bit, giving Gore room to run for the first time. That's the crazy theory.
One big question for this game: when Darrell Jackson faces former teammate Marcus Trufant (I'm assuming that's how the coverage will pan out), who will have the advantage? Both know each other's tendencies and weaknesses, but who will exploit them better? It's always difficult to guess, but I'm figuring it'll be a little of A, a little of B. But a few early completions will be enough to get Smith's confidence up, and improve his game.
And of course, we can't forget that the last time these two played in Frisco, Gore broke 200 yards. I don't think he will this time, because Norv is no longer coordinating as you pointed out, but the offense knows Seattle's D pretty well, and Gore should break at least 100 for the first time this season. He'll use up enough clock that the defense won't get exhausted like they did last week against Pittsburgh.
Bring it on.
The Crazy Metaphor is a simple magician's trick...distract you with this hand, while the other hand keeps pulling out rabits...or something like that...the problem is when both hands get confused, and you end up with a Mac and Cheese-Peanut Butter and Jelly sandwich....
Your Vernon Davis theory is a great example of a Chicken or the Egg argument...will losng Davis allow Smith to find his WRs? Or is the reason Smith doesn't throw to his WRs because they lack talent and can't get open? D-Jack is a solid WR, but he's not a Tier 1 WR, someone that can beat a defense all by his lonesome. He needs other threats to succeed...and without Davis, the Niners don't much in the way of revcieving talent to take pressure off of D-Jack.
As a Bears fan, Smith's 1 INT excites me...as that would be a welcome outcome for any Bears QB. But on the other hand, Smith doesn't seem to be someone that can carry a team. He's a servicable QB right now, but there hasn't been any spark from him...maybe it's the lack of real talent around him...but just don't see him being more than what he is now...an Okay QB. That being said, if he wanted to wear a Bears uniform, he's more than welcome.
Now, here's where it gets a little tricky...we both agree that it's going to take about 24 points to win this game...interesting note...
The Hawks have not allowed more than 23 this year...
The 49ers have not scored more than 20 this year...
And the Hawks have score 20 or more in every game so far.
On top of that the Niners eeked out victories over the Rams (awful) and the Cardinals (all I have to say is Kurt Warner) by a combined 4 points!! When they actually played a talented team...they got killed. All those numbers add up to one thing...
Seahawks 21 49ers 17
And I send it back to you Dan...
I can't believe you set me up for this - it has to be a trap, but I'll fall for it anyway.
The Cardinals that you are so unimpressed with... did beat the Seahawks, didn't they? And if I'm not mistaken, Kurt Warner had nothing to do with either game.
And returning to the home/away argument, here's another thing worthy of mention--in the 6 games involving the two teams, only once has the visiting team won. And that was the Niners over the Rams in a game that shouldn't have been so close. Beating the Rams by 1 this year is kind of like losing. So one could argue that home teams are essentially undefeated when Seattle and San Fran are involved.
Here's another fun little stat: The Seahawks haven't won their fourth game of the season since 2002.
I think the Seahawks are the better team, and they'll win the division once again. But for this week, San Francisco gets the lead with a win, 23-21.
You're right, Warner had nothing to do with the Hawks loss...it was just to illustrate how bad the Cards are...and if he had been involved in either game...the Cards wouldn't of even sniffed victory. No, the Cards game was lost by the Hawks because of 1 botched handoff...yes, I know there was more to the game than that, but if that 1 event does not occur, the Hawks win that game.
They learned their lesson in that game, this one will be theirs.
Here's a stat for you, the Niners haven't won on the last weekend of September since 2000...put that in your pipe and smoke it.
Every streak was made to be broken...unless it serves my purpose in an argument, and then it's indisputible fact. That's a fact, you can look it up.
As Charles Barkley put it, "And if I didn't eat so much, I wouldn't be fat." A loss is a loss, and in every game there are several "just one play"s that would have altered the outcome of game. I could just as easily say "If Arizona comes up with the stop on 4th-and-1, Seattle isn't even in the game at the end." And then we'd get into a big argument about how it would affect the playcalling afterwards and it wouldn't even be the same game. The final score represents all the different sways, mistakes, and lucky breaks over the course of the game--let's just let a loss be a loss.
As for the Niners' and Seahawks' various streaks, there's a difference. The Seahawks have been good that whole time, and they still lost. And I did look up your "Every streak was made to be broken...unless it serves my purpose in an argument" rule, and there's an exception to the exception: according to amendment 3.64, section 3 - "The 49ers will beat the Seahawks on Sept. 30, 2007, no matter what Josh says."
FanNation: feel free to get in on the debate in the comments section. The game is at 4:00 Eastern on Sunday. Hooray for football!