The Seattle Seahawks will have a chance to punch their ticket for the playoffs in Week 15 when they pay a visit to the San Francisco 49ers. The two division rivals are set to kick off at 4:05 EST on Sunday, December 16, at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, California. Most of the west coast will be able to watch the game on Fox.
Despite a lopsided win over the 49ers just a couple of weeks ago, the Seahawks are only 5.5-point favorites on the road. The over/under is set at 44 points. Click here for a full list of NFL betting odds and game previews for Week 15.
On the heels of a four-game winning streak, the Seahawks are on the verge of locking up a playoff spot. At 8-5, a win over the 49ers would be enough to guarantee Seattle a postseason birth. There are also several scenarios in which a tie might be enough to clinch a place in the postseason. Either way, the Seahawks have a substantial lead in the wild-card race, so it would take an epic collapse for Seattle to miss the playoffs at this point.
Meanwhile, the 49ers are feeling good about themselves after beating the Broncos 20-14 last week. After putting a crimp in Denver’s postseason hopes, the 49ers have a chance to do something similar to Seattle this week. Of course, other than that, San Francisco doesn’t have much to play for other than their place in next year’s draft. The 49ers are currently in a three-way tie for the worst record in the NFL, so if they can’t win another game the rest of the season, there’s a decent chance they’ll get the top overall pick.
As mentioned, when these two teams met two weeks ago, the Seahawks cruised to a 43-16 win at home, easily covering the 10-point spread. That was also Seattle’s 10th consecutive win over San Francisco. Oddly enough, the 49ers out-gained the Seahawks by over 100 yards in that game. However, San Francisco also turned the ball over three times, including a 98-yard pick-six in the 4th quarter to cap off the 27-point win. That leaves the 49ers with a lot of work to do if they want this game to be any different.
I’ll give San Francisco credit for their win over the Broncos last week. But that game doesn’t change how I see this matchup. This spread is surprisingly low when you consider 27 points separated these teams just two weeks ago. I don’t see the 49ers making that much of a turnaround, even at home. I feel confident eating the points and leaning toward the Seahawks to cover.
If the 49ers are going to have any chance to stay competitive in this game, their first priority is slowing down Seattle’s running game. It’s something they did last week against Denver’s potent rushing attack. However, they’ve only had varying levels of success stopping the run throughout the season, and it’s not something they did two weeks ago against the Seahawks. In that game, the Seattle rushing attack amassed 168 yards at a rate of 5.8 yards per carry. That opened the door for Russell Wilson to only throw 17 passes, but four that went for touchdowns. Obviously, that’s not a scenario that can repeat itself from San Francisco’s perspective.
It also wouldn’t hurt the 49ers to produce a little more offensively. To be fair, Nick Mullens had over 400 yards passing and two touchdowns against the Seattle defense. However, most of those yards were accumulated after the 49ers fell behind 20-0. They were also the result of San Francisco’s running game that produced little. With Matt Breida listed as questionable after picking up an ankle injury two weeks ago, there’s little reason to be optimistic about the 49ers being productive on the ground this week.
Without a viable running game, there will be a lot of pressure on Mullens to carry the 49ers against a Seattle defense that’s coming into its own late in the year. The Seahawks have given up just 23 total points over the last two games, completing shutting down the Vikings last week. They’ve proven on a number of occasions this season that they’re capable of dropping the hammer on subpar offensive teams. There’s little doubt that the 49ers fall into that category.
In addition to Breida being questionable and Mullens have limitations, San Francisco’s only playmakers that pose a threat are rookie receiver Dante Pettis and tight end George Kittle. While both are capable of having a big game, the Seahawks are too good defensively to allow both to do serious damage against them in the same game. Mullens and company also have to beware of turnovers against a Seattle team that ranks high in turnover margin.
All things considered, I have a hard time believing the 49ers can keep up with Seattle for four quarters. With a four-game winning streak intact, the Seahawks aren’t likely to let their foot off the gas. As long as Seattle puts forth an honest effort, they should continue to run the ball effectively and play solid defense, which should make it easy for them to cover the spread against an overmatched 49ers team.