It's a damn good time to be a Seahawk fan.
After an inspiring Week 14 victory over a Cardinals team who appeared to quit in every aspect of how anyone could ever define the word, the New England Patriots unleashed hell on an opponent who was supposed to put up a damn good fight. They beat the Texans on national TV by a score of 42-14, coming off the 58-0 shellacking the Seahawks dished out agains the hapless Cardinals.
Why is it a good thing if the Patriots win, you ask?
Next Sunday night, they host none other than the San Francisco 49ers. And to keep alive the Seahawks' chances of winning the NFC West, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that yes, the Patriots need to beat the 49ers. The 49ers are still arguably the best team in the NFC, and already beat a young Seahawk team by a score of 13-6 earlier in the season at Candlestick Park.
But how much have the Seahawks grown since then? And how tenuous is the grasp the 49ers have on the division lead right now?
San Francisco is 9-3-1, with the tie coming off a home game against the St. Louis Rams, who later beat them in OT in Week 13. The Niners previously got thumped at home by the New York Giants, just four days before the Seahawks came to town on for a Thursday night game.
That Niners team was angry, hungry and ready to make a statement. They were ready to destroy a rookie quarterback who was on the rise. They were ready to exploit a defense that was lauded as being better than they were. Above all, they were fired up to put the hurt on a division rival after an ugly home loss.
Meanwhile, the Seahawks had just come off a last-second home victory over none other than the New England Patriots. They were tired, but felt as though they could ride that momentum into San Francisco on such a short week. Unfortuantely, they were wrong.
Since then -- Week 7 -- the Seahawks have gone 4-2, winning a tough road game in OT against the Chicago Bears, and coming home to CenturyLink Field and laying a historic ass-beating on the Cardinals. Since then:
- QB Russell Wilson has thrown 12 touchdown passes to just two interceptions; one of which came on a tipped pass last Sunday that gave Arizona its one lucky break all day
- The lowest point total the Seahawks have put up is 21, with the highest being 58
- RB Marshawn Lynch has put up four 100+ yard games, scoring seven touchdowns.
- TE Anthony McCoy was the first Seahawk to reach 100 yards receiving in a game
Make no mistake about it - this is a team on the rise. The surge they've been on in the past two weeks, with some minor exceptions, has been the most convincing I've seen of any Seahawk team I can remember. I think they may be an even more complete team than the 2005 NFC Championship team, but time will tell if that's the case or not.
The 49ers, meanwhile, are a mixed bag. Coach Jim Harbaugh made the call to switch his starting QB to second-year man Colin Kaepernick. We don't know who this guy is just yet. He's had flashes of brilliance. In other times -- namely in the botched reverse in the Rams game two weeks ago -- he's looked like a rookie.
Even after the switch, the 49ers still rank only 26th in total passing yards, but defense has been the focal point of this team, as expected. It'll be interesting to see how this defense fares against Tom Brady and the New England Patriots at Gilette Stadium in Foxborough. ESPN's Mike Sando put together a chart giving the matchup a preview here:
The matchup will occur just after the Seahawks travel to Toronto to take on the Buffalo Bills, an inferior opponent that the Seahawks should beat. If the Seahawks get the road win, and the 49ers fall to the Patriots next Sunday night, it'll be safe to say that the momentum in the NFC West will have shifted, making the Dec. 23 game at CenturyLink field between San Francisco and the Seahawks nothing short of a bloodbath with the division title on the line.
This weekend -- Week 14 -- was encouraging. Seeing the Seahawks get brutal and relentless on a division rival, no matter how inept they are, is a promising sign for how much damage they can dish out to anybody. In this league, a 58-0 win doesn't come often. The Seahawks should be able to ride this wave of confidence and KNOW they can handle anything in front of them from here on out.