The San Francisco 49ers and Seattle Seahawks close out the season facing off at Levi’s Stadium, with one team headed to the playoffs, and one team a little bit closer to playing some golf.
The Seahawks have plenty to play for in this game. They already clinched the NFC West, and currently hold the three-seed in the playoff race. With a record of 9-5-1, the Seahawks are a half game back of the 10-5 Atlanta Falcons, and a half game ahead of the 9-6 Green Bay Packers and Detroit Lions. If Seattle wins and Atlanta loses, the Seahawks will move into the No. 2 seed, and get the first round bye that comes with the seeding.
Although the 49ers will not be taking part in the playoffs this year, we will still be keeping an eye on the rest of the NFL. And of course, that means rooting against the Seahawks. This Seattle team has had some strong wins, most notably going into Gillette Stadium and beating the New England Patriots. However, they have been inconsistent, particularly the last two months. Heading into this regular season finale, Seattle has alternated wins and losses. A win over San Francisco secures their fifth straight 10-win season, but this will be one of the weaker teams of that group heading into the playoffs.
I decided to ask Field Gulls editor Kenneth Arthur what fan expectations are like for the Seahawks head into the playoffs. He offered up this:
Most of the fans I hear from are pessimistic about their chances. Maybe that's just what I choose to hear because it annoys me, or maybe the pessimistic ones are the ones leaving comments on the internet, but that seems to be the general feeling I get. This is a team going to the playoffs for the fifth straight year, and they've won a playoff game in five of Pete Carroll's previous six seasons. They've also won a Super Bowl and been to another. And yet I still get a feeling people are unhappy. As if it would be better to deal with rooting for the Cleveland Browns or LA Rams or a bunch of other teams. I'm not talking shit, I'm just saying that things have been pretty good and I'm grateful for another playoff trip. I'm sure Niners fans would gladly take a chance at the playoffs (a chance at a number two seed, no less) than face another rebuild with a new head coach. Although the prospect of adding Myles Garrett is quite intriguing.
My expectation would be that if the Falcons lose and the Seahawks win, then Seattle will have an excellent shot to make the NFC Championship game and then be one good day away from their third Super Bowl trip in four years. If they are stuck with a three seed, I think it's difficult to envision them getting past the divisional round. They're just too awful on the road right now. The pass defense has stunk without Earl Thomas. The pass rush is too inconsistent. The offensive line is too dangerous to Wilson's health. There are a lot of things to fix in 2017, but if they manage to get a two seed, they might just back their way into a championship anyway.