Today we finally get the championship game we would’ve had last year if it hadn’t been for that last second comeback by the Falcons. The Seahawks versus the 49ers, two division rivals who just so happen also to be the two best teams in the whole damn conference, going head to head with nothing less than a Super Bowl berth on the line. Really, would you want this game to go down any other way?
Here’s a few thoughts on the matchup ahead:
1) Enough about Percy Harvin, already. I’ve been reading a lot about how Harvin being ruled out for this game somehow makes the outcome a foregone conclusion in favor of the 49ers, and I just don’t follow the logic in that argument at all. The loss of Harvin isn’t a good thing, but it isn’t catastrophic, either. The Hawks’ offense as a whole has played close to a thousand snaps this season, and Harvin participated in exactly 38 of them – that’s less than four percent. Bottom line, Seattle’s passing offense is in the top ten (and many of those in the top five) in most any statistical average you care to name, and they did that with Doug Baldwin, Golden Tate, and Jermaine Kearse accounting for 82.28% of all passes thrown to wide receivers this season.
2) Russell Wilson needs to put in a full game. Here are his passer rating averages for this season broken down by quarter, then compared to his ratings in last week’s game versus New Orleans:
|Quarter||Russell Wilson Passer Rating - 2013 Regular Season||Wilson Passer Rating - vs. Saints (Divisional Round)|
To be fair, the Seahawks’ ultra-conservative game plan in the second half while they were playing with a lead over the Saints contributed somewhat to the above stats, but Wilson also simply just missed some throws and several times failed to notice wide open receivers. I’d be more than happy to watch him lead Seattle to a huge blowout win over the 49ers today, but I’ll settle for a decisive, mistake-free outing both in and out of the pocket.
3) Don’t blitz San Francisco. Colin Kaepernick has made a living this year eating blitzes alive, and the Seahawks have had more success than most when playing against him because they prefer to contain Kaepernick in the pocket and dropping extra guys into coverage over sending extra rushers his way. I see no reason to change that game plan today; The 12th Man should be all the extra help Chris Clemons, Michael Bennett, and Cliff Avril need to make the 49ers’ QB as miserable as humanly possible.
4) Keep Anquan Boldin and Vernon Davis out of Seattle’s blind spot. According to the stats, the Seahawks pass defense isn’t just the best in the league this year, it’s one of the best of all time – but that doesn’t mean it’s perfect. If there’s one flaw in the Hawks’ blanket coverage, it’s the short middle zone. If Boldin and Davis are allowed to roam free between the linebackers and the safeties, things could get ugly in a hurry. If LBs KJ Wright and Bobby Wagner and NB Walter Thurmond can prevent San Francisco from exploiting holes in that zone, the Legion of Boom will be free to concentrate on denying them access to the rest of the field. I hear they’re good at that.