From the point that the Bears officially closed out the Niners on Sunday and the Chiefs almost immediately went up two touchdowns on a lifeless Cardinals team sans DeAndre Hopkins, seemingly everyone looked around, did some quick math, donned their prognosticator hats, and called that the NFC West would open the season 0-4.
Besides the obvious irony that a division many have called the most competitive in football for the past few seasons would open with such an egregious misstep, it also meant that the first week would essentially be a wash. No harm, no foul.
Well, for everyone who watched what might have been one of the sloppiest and most poorly managed attempts at a game-winning drive ever put to tape already knows, the Broncos managed to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory three times over - thanks to two goal line fumbles and a 64-yard FG attempt - and now the Seahawks will sit alone in sole possession of first place when they come into Levi Stadium this Sunday.
Most importantly, how does this stunning turn of events impact the 49ers' chances of notching their first win of the season?
In the eyes of gamblers, not at all. In fact, the Niners opened the week as 8.5 point favorites and, after an influx of bets on San Francisco, the line moved up to 9.5, or even 10 points, depending where you look. While the Seattle-Denver game might have proved that the Seahawks aren’t a complete and utter disaster, it didn’t exactly inspire much confidence in their ability to perform at a high level consistently.
While Geno Smith and the offense started out hot, completing 17 of 18 passes and scoring 17 points in the first half. Things didn’t stay that way, as the quarterback finished 23-for-28 with only 195 passing yards, and the team managed to hold on without putting another point on the board.
Meanwhile, their defense looked like a classic Pete Carroll coaching job. They stifled the run, though one wonders why Javonte Williams, who averaged 6.1 yards a carry, only got 7 rushes. They disrupted Russell Wilson, specifically Uchenna Nwosu, who filled up the stat sheet with a sack, four pressures, a pass break up, and a forced fumble. Overall, they bent but didn’t break, stopping two drives at their own 1-yard line.
However, they clearly don’t have the talent of defenses’ past. With Bobby Wagner playing in Los Angeles and Jamal Adams heading to the IR, there are no more All-Pros to be found on that side of the ball. Instead, they’ve pieced together a fast and well-coached group, but far from fearsome, as evidenced by the 67-yard Jerry Jeudy touchdown they allowed.
Also, presumably, they were highly motivated when playing their former quarterback, who had often butted heads with the head coach over his last few seasons in town and spent his final season trying to orchestrate a clean exit to one of his preferred destinations. Certainly, the notoriously noisy crowd, which provided ample volume all night long, happily rained boos down on Wilson and attempted to cause havoc for his new offense at every turn.
This might be the biggest factor in the 49ers’ favor going into Week 2. Coming away from a raucous home opener with a dub over your left-on-bad-terms quarterback in a matchup you had circled on the calendar all offseason would leave a team feeling a little drained. So the Seahawks will have to dig deep to refocus and get rehyped to avoid the kind of letdown loss that usually follows such an emotional win. Not to mention, they’ll have to do that with one less day to prepare because this was Monday Night Football.
So, to recap, Seattle, whose offense looked middling at best and whose defense seemed more lucky than good, now has to compose themselves, so they can go on the road on a short week after winning their most anticipated game of the season in prime time to face the Niners, a team with a far superior roster, who’s eager to prove themselves in their home opener coming off a sloppy loss in bad conditions.
Yeah, the Seahawks winning might just have been the best possible outcome.