This Saturday’s opening game of Wild Card Weekend will take place in San Francisco between the Seattle Seahawks and the 49ers. For the third time this season, head coach Pete Carroll is busy getting his squad ready to face a familiar tormentor. Carroll and his team are lucky to now have another opportunity to eventually prevail after losing both regular-season games to the Niners. That said, let’s look at our bold predictions for the Seahawks as they face the 49ers.
The Seahawks count the 49ers as fierce rivals. Keep in mind that the Seahawks barely made it into the playoffs with a 9-8 record. They just won against the Los Angeles Rams and benefitted from the Detroit Lions’ unexpected win over the Green Bay Packers in the final week of the regular season. On the other hand, the 49ers, headlined by coach Kyle Shanahan, have been on a roll with 10 straight wins. They will aim to achieve a historic run in the playoffs.
That said, here are four predictions for the Seahawks in the playoffs as they face the 49ers in the Wild Card Round.
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THE SHOW GOES ON! pic.twitter.com/aGUiuLVxM8
— Seattle Seahawks (@Seahawks) January 9, 2023
4. Seahawks receivers do damage
Seattle QB Geno Smith has the advantage of working with two elite receivers, Tyler Lockett and DK Metcalf. Both have recorded 1,000+ yards this season. For Lockett, this is his fourth consecutive 1,000-yard season. He finished the regular season with 1,033 yards on 84 receptions, while Metcalf had 90 catches for 1,048 yards. That’s the most on the team.
Take note that the 30-year-old Lockett has caught a touchdown pass in a franchise-record six consecutive games this season. He also has a team-high of nine scoring catches. Meanwhile, Metcalf has six. Remember that Metcalf was the top target for the Seahawks in their last regular season game. However, he had a tough time making an impact. He was also targeted on each of Geno Smith’s interceptions. However, he did have a 23-yard reception that helped set up a game-tying touchdown early in the third quarter. Despite his struggles, Metcalf still managed to post the second 1,000-yard season of his four-year career and will remain a significant threat against the Niners.
Meanwhile, Lockett has been dealing with some injuries. Still, he managed to score a 36-yard touchdown early in the third quarter of Week 18. He also helped set up the game-winning field goal with a 17-yard catch in overtime. Remember that Lockett found the end zone in seven of the last nine games. He will likely continue to be Geno Smith’s favorite target in the Wild Card Round.
3. Geno Smith has a tough one
Geno Smith has exceeded expectations by leading Seattle to an unexpected playoff appearance. However, he now faces a difficult challenge in the form of the 49ers defense, which gave up the fewest points in the NFL during the regular season. It also intercepted as many passes as it allowed passing touchdowns. On the flip side, Seattle’s offense has improved significantly this season. In fact, they rank sixth in scoring after finishing in the middle of the pack last season. Of course, Smith has been a major reason for the improvement.
Smith had a strong season in his first year starting for the Seahawks. The 32-year-old even topped the NFL with a 69.8 completion percentage. That was one of the numerous single-season team records he achieved. In addition, Smith broke team records for pass attempts (572), completions (399), and passing yards (4,282). He also led the league with 15 touchdown passes of at least 15 yards and came in fourth with 30 total touchdown passes.
His matchup with rookie sensation Brock Purdy will take center stage in this one. Beyond Purdy, however, Smith will need to look out for the 49ers pass rushers, especially Nick Bosa. Remember that Bosa leads the league in sacks (18.5) and QB hits (48). Smith needs to watch out for him, though it may just be a matter of time before Bosa breaks through.
This’ll be a tough game for Smith. Still, we have him going 230+ total yards with one touchdown.
2. Kenneth Walker goes over 80 yards if he plays
The 49ers had one of the top run defenses in the NFL during the regular season. They allowed an average of just 77.7 yards per game. The most rushing yards they allowed to a single player was 69 yards to NFL rushing champion Josh Jacobs in Week 17. Meanwhile, in two games against the 49ers, Seattle’s leading running back, Kenneth Walker, gained just 57 yards on 16 rushes. Having said that, he has been in good form recently. In fact, he has rushed for 100 yards or more in three consecutive games.
For Seattle to have a chance of competing with San Francisco, they will need Walker to be at his very best. This will give their offense much-needed balance. It will also help keep Smith from throwing too much into the hands of a defense that led the league in interceptions.
One thing we have to watch, though, is Walker’s status. He did not practice on Wednesday due to an ankle injury. It is still unclear if he will play in the Wild Card Round as of this writing. If he does play, Walker should have no trouble going over 80+ total yards.
1. Seahawks fall flat
Seattle is a heavy underdog in this game, and for good reason. The Niners have just been dominant during their current 10-game winning streak. However, it’s worth noting that it can be challenging to beat a team three times in one season. San Francisco ironically found that out last year when they lost to the Rams in the NFC Championship Game. That’s despite having previously beaten them twice in the regular season.
What is certain at this point, however, is that Kyle Shanahan has too many offensive weapons for Seattle’s defense to contain. Take note that the 49ers have been averaging 36 points per game at home with Purdy as the starting quarterback. Seattle, on the other hand, gave up nearly 30 points per game on the road during the regular season. This makes it likely that San Francisco will score a ton of points en route to a big win. The Seahawks, on the other hand, will fall flat.