Last time I checked, the Hawks have a pretty decent record at home. They haven't lost in the Clink since Christmas Eve in 2011, to the San Francisco 49ers. Obviously the Niners want to come back and strike early, much like last year's first meeting between the two. Make no mistake, this game is huge when it comes to battling for the NFC West crown.
The biggest things I'm watching for on Sunday Night:
Colin Kaepernick: I dislike Colin Kaepernick as much as the next person, but the dude knows how to play football. If there was any doubt to that claim, watch last week's game against Green Bay. The dude passed for 412 yards, 3 TDs, and ran for an additional 22 yards. Now, Green Bay doesn't quite have the secondary Seattle does, so don't expect these numbers. To compare, last year Kap threw for 244 yards and 1 TD, running for 31 yards. Seattle was also up 42-6 with less than 2 minutes remaining at the time the Niners were able to score said touchdown. With that in mind, I don't see Kap being a fantasy wizard like he was last week, Seattle simply won't allow it.
Anquan Boldin: Again, another player who started the season off as hot as one could imagine. He has 13 receptions for 208 yards and 1 TD against Green Bay. The three reasons I'm not worried about him?
1. Last time he played in Seattle was in 2011. With a "far less stellar than the current" defense in 2011, the Hawks kept him to 2 receptions for 22 yards. He was targeted 9 times in that game.
2. The Niners have only Boldin and TE Vernon Davis as legitimate recieving threats. Their number three reciever? Kyle Williams, the same guy who fumbled two punt returns against the Giants in the 2011 NFC Championship.
Frank Gore: This guy could be the most important aspect of this game, easy. Against Seattle, the 49ers are 4-0 when Gore rushes for over 100 yards. When he rushes for less? 3-5. Even with the tools that they have, the Niners need Gore to be effective to win ball games. Last year against Seattle in week 7, Gore rushed for 131 yards. That's all they needed to preserve a victory. In week 16? He only rushed for 28 yards, and needless to say Seattle won that game.
This game is going to come down to how both lines play. If Seattle's O-line can hold their own against a very talented Niner D-line, Marshawn Lynch Russell Wilson will finds openings to exploit. If the Seattle defense can keep Kaepernick and Gore guessing and frustrated, we will see a very similar game to what we witnessed last winter in Seattle.
I'm not as confident in that happening, especially after how the Hawks played the Panthers. This will be a much closer, much more physical game. Two good defenses against two good offenses, the game could boil down to special teams. Call me biased, but I think Seattle has the edge in it.
Prediction: Seattle's defense shows the world why they're the best in the league and Russell Wilson is able to exploit a weaker-than-last-year San Fran secondary. With the balanced attack and the 12th man doing what they do best, Seattle nails the coffin in the 4th quarter to win by two scores. 34-24 SEA.
Being in Seattle, this game will take on a playoff atmosphere. Rumor has it that Seattle will try to break a Guiness World Record for loudest game ever. I wouldn't put it past them that they break the record a few times over the course of this game.
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