Seahawks make final push for top playoff seed vs. 49ers
The Seattle Seahawks have already clinched their first NFC West title since 2016.
But they still have something to play for in Week 17 when they meet the coronavirus-displaced San Francisco 49ers (6-9) on Sunday afternoon in Glendale, Ariz.
The Seahawks (11-4) can still earn the NFC’s top seed and a first-round bye with a victory and a loss by Green Bay (12-3) at Chicago (8-7) and a loss or tie by New Orleans (11-4) tie at Carolina (5-10).
Of course, the odds of all those scenarios happening are slim — FiveThirtyEight.com puts the Seahawks chances of getting the No. 1 seed at 4 percent — but there’s still a possibility.
Which is all Seahawks coach Pete Carroll needs to hear.
“We’re going for it, and we would love to have that break (the bye in the wild-card round) for players if we can get it,” Carroll said.
The Seahawks captured the division title with a 20-9 victory against the Los Angeles Rams last weekend, as Russell Wilson threw for one touchdown, rushed for another and the defense limited the visitors to three field goals.
“I don’t want to break that mentality at all,” Carroll said. “We want to stay right with it and keep pushing and trying to get better. … This is a championship opportunity to put ourselves in the best situation going into the playoffs.”
Through the first half of the season, Wilson carried the Seahawks and the defense was on pace to shatter the NFL record for most yards allowed in a season.
But over the past seven games, the Seahawks are allowing an average of just 15 points, best in the league, are tied for first in sacks (24) and are third in total defense.
“We figured it out,” Seahawks linebacker K.J. Wright said. “Guys are just starting to be accountable, we’re communicating like no other. To hear the other guys’ voices each and every play is truly special.”
Added safety Jamal Adams: “For everybody out there, they got to start putting respect on this defense’s name, because this defense is playing lights out.”
The injury-plagued 49ers, the defending NFC champions, have shown a willingness to play the role of spoiler. Behind third-string quarterback C.J. Beathard, the 49ers dealt Arizona’s playoff chances a blow with a 20-12 victory last weekend.
Beathard completed 13 of 22 passes for 182 yards and three touchdowns and Jeff Wilson rushed for a career-high 183 yards and made a 21-yard touchdown reception.
“That’s why I’ve been real proud of the players and the way they’ve handled themselves,” 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan said. “That’s why I’m truly not going to count this year as a negative. It wasn’t fun. It’s not what we or our fans wanted. But I believe the way we went through it, if you go through things the right way, I think it hardens you and makes you stronger and makes you better.”
The Seahawks beat San Francisco 37-27 on Nov. 1 in Seattle. Nick Mullens replaced an injured Jimmy Garoppolo and guided the 49ers to three touchdowns in the final five minutes.
Shanahan said he doesn’t expect Garoppolo (ankle) to return this week. Wide receivers Brandon Aiyuk (ankle) and Deebo Samuel (hamstring), left tackle Trent Williams (elbow), defensive end Jordan Willis (ankle) and cornerback Richard Sherman (calf) have already been ruled out. Kicker Robbie Gould was placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list.
The Seahawks are relatively healthy, with cornerback Tre Flowers (hamstring) expected to return from the injured reserve list and right tackle Brandon Shell (ankle) is likely to play.
–Field Level Media