Tag Archives: Seattle Seahawks

NFC Championship Game Preview: 49ers @ Seahawks

Seahawks 49ersby Jim Bearor

           For the most part, I’ll spare the statistics, because as I said in my earlier post, I’m not going to be able to give numbers and matchups that aren’t already out there.

            We all know Seattle has home field advantage, but many people don’t truly appreciate how much playing in CenturyLink Stadium benefits the Seahawks.  Since the beginning of last year – AKA the beginning of the Russell Wilson era – the Seahawks have gone 16-1 at home (yeah I know what I said about stats, but come on, that’s unbelievable). 

Seattle fans are notoriously loud already, and this game could be the loudest yet. This is not only because their team is playing for a Super Bowl berth, but also due to the unusual policies concerning ticket sales enacted by CenturyLink earlier this week. Tickets were available Monday morning for the NFC Championship game, but only to those who live in Washington, Montana, Oregon, Idaho, Alaska, Hawaii, or the Canadian provinces of Alberta and British Columbia (the Broncos have done something very similar to this as well). Obviously their intent is to keep San Fran fans out of the stadium.

Controversial? Maybe, but my NFC Championship Preview isn’t the place for an ethics discussion (because I said so).

Bottom line: the place is going to be rocking, and I think it will affect the Niners – Colin Kaepernick in particular. Although he has had some rushing success in his two games at Seattle (118 yards total), Kaep has struggled throwing the ball. He has completed 32 of his 64 passes for 371 yards – which comes out to be around 5.8 yards per attempt – and has only one passing touchdown versus four interceptions.  I’m a Kaepernick fan, but those struggles can’t be ignored.

While this all this suggests Kaepernick might get rattled and cost his team the game, I’m not completely convinced that this is how it will play out.  Yes, the noise will be a factor – a HUGE factor – but in his young career, Colin has proven that he is the kind of player who can handle the pressure that comes with big games like this. So I expect to see Colin take the field on Sunday night as confident as he seems to be in those Beats commercials.

It’s pretty for Kaep easy to keep the right state of mind though when you’re handing the ball off more than you’re forced to drop back and pass against the biggest, baddest, most ball-hawkingest secondary on the planet.  The Seahawks know this, and I believe Bobby Wagner and a fully healed KJ Wright will be bringing the heat early and often, daring Kaepernick to test his luck through the air. It will take a great deal of stress off of Seattle’s offense if they can keep San Fran’s ground game in check — including Kaepernick tucking and running on designed passes.

Speaking of tall orders, Russell Wilson is going to have his hands full if the front seven of the 49ers takes away the running game. The offensive line for Seattle is impressive, but not as good as the group they’re facing.  I think the 49ers are going to give Marshawn Lynch a very tough time, in hopes of putting Wilson on the spot. 

Essentially, I believe that San Francisco and Seattle will come in with very similar gameplans.  Both will try to force the other’s young quarterback to try and make plays against a staunch defense.  The only differences I see are that the Seahawks have a better secondary, and the 49ers have a better set of lineman and ‘backers. 

Here is what it comes down to: the 49ers may have an easier time forcing the ball into Russell Wilson’s hands, but if the Seahawks somehow manage to contain Gore and Kaepernick on the ground, Kaepernick will be given the near-impossible task of throwing on the Legion of Boom in their own dojo.

So to wrap things up, CenturyLink Stadium is going to be very loud, each team is going to target the opposing quarterback, CenturyLink Stadium is going to be very loud, Kaepernick hasn’t had success in Seattle thus far in his career, and CenturyLink Stadium is going to be very loud.

Wilson and Kaepernick both put together impressive games, but Seattle’s D forces one big turnover that makes the difference. 

Seattle wins, 20-13.

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Wilson and Kaepernick – Why the Better QB is More at Risk

Wilson and Kaep

By Jim Bearor

Every football fan is pretty familiar with Russell Wilson and Colin Kaepernick, and how similar they seem to be.

Almost everyone has seen the Madden 25 commercials, where the two young stars are made out to be lifelong pals who are always competing in a buddy-buddy way. To clear things up, that was just a commercial and there is no real-life relationship between the two outside of their budding rivalry.

There is no doubting their parallels on the field, though. Both are young, very talented quarterbacks who were lucky enough to fall into the situations they have.  There might not be any better surrounding casts in the NFL than the San Francisco 49ers and the Seattle Seahawks – both teams are stacked across the board, so the developing quarterback doesn’t have to be the hero all the time.

Wilson is about 5 inches shorter than Kaepernick, and doesn’t have the same incredible arm strength, but he has this innate understanding of the game of football that helps him compensate for that physical advantage – for example, he is a bit less trigger happy to tuck the ball and run, he instead uses his legs to create plays in the passing game. Kaepernick is a hair faster than Wilson, but not enough to set him apart (Wilson’s 40-yard-dash at the Combine: 4.55; Kaepernick’s: 4.53).

            They lead different personal lives as well, although they are made out to be different versions of the same person by much of the media.

 Russell is married, leads a low-profile lifestyle, and is very humble and grounded (just watch how he acts when he isn’t taking the snap). 

Colin seems to have a very different persona, he is single and often out with friends and just doing what one might expect from a young celebrity.  He is more energetic and outgoing with his emotions (he has his own touchdown celebration, if that says anything), but – to this point – has stayed out of trouble.

            What I take from all of this is that Russell Wilson – appearing to be the more focused and mature of the two – has the mental makeup of a successful NFL quarterback more so than Colin Kaepernick does.  If you haven’t noticed by now, if I had my choice between the two, I would go with Wilson.  However, if I had to pick the team that is more conducive to the success of a young quarterback, I’d definitely go with the 49ers.

            Although the Seahawks and 49ers are not so different in their makeup – both great defensively and in the running game – I would argue that Kaepernick is in a better situation, because it’s tougher for opposing teams to put pressure on him. 

San Francisco’s offensive line is what really sets them apart from most other teams in the league.  I’m not talking in terms of pass protection necessarily, but the holes that are opened up for Frank Gore do wonders in slowing down the pass rush of the opponent.  San Fran runs more than any team in the NFL, and because of this, the defense makes stopping the ground game its primary focus. Now, when Kaepernick works the play action – something he does very well – the defense is more off-balance than usual. Another advantage for Colin is a talented group of pass-catchers, especially now that Crabtree is healthy. With Crabtree, Boldin, and Davis all on the field, anyone could be the primarty target on any given play.

While the “Legion of Boom” will likely handle this trio effectively, they will be put at a disadvantage by the mismatches created by the running game.

Russell Wilson is handing the ball off to the more talented running back, but he doesn’t have the same caliber line as that of Kaepernick.  Also, his best receivers are currently Golden Tate and Doug Baldwin, instead of Sidney Rice and Percy Harvin – assuming Harvin is still concussed.  It also should be mentioned that this depleted Seahawks offense has to deal with the best front 7 in football, so the pressure will always be on.

Wilson has been vulnerable as of late, and his stats have suffered. In Seattle’s last 5 games, Wilsons Total QBR has fallen from 67.5 (above average) to 30.4 (significantly below average) and on average, he is holding on to the football for nearly a half-second more than usual.  Even though Wilson is a quarterback who tends to extend plays longer than most, this statistic shows that he is having difficulty finding open receivers.  You can only draw a play out for so long before the defense catches up to you.

So what I think I’m trying to get at here is that if the two were in a vacuum, I would pick Russell Wilson. But that isn’t the case, and Kaepernick is more set up for success with all things accounted for.  It is going to be much more difficult for Wilson to have a standout performance than his counterpart, but who knows, this is the NFL we’re talking about and the avid fan knows to expect the unexpected.


Some links I reference about the two quarterbacks:





Divisional Weekend’s Winners and Losers – Where Do They Stand?

Divisional roundby Jim Bearor

To me, the Divisional Round and the Conference Championship Round are the best two weeks in sports – yeah even a little better than March Madness.  And now that the AFC and NFC Title games are set, I’m feeling a little depressed that there are only three more games left this season.

But it’s been a great year of football, and as it is with any sport, half of the fun is drawing conclusions about the teams that don’t finish their season in the winner’s circle.  There are some teams who many did not think would make it past the regular season, and by surpassing everyone’s expectations – including their own – they can mark this past year off as a success (here are your Chiefs, Chargers, Panthers, and maybe Colts). For other teams, merely making it to the postseason doesn’t provide quite the same satisfaction.  Some teams may have met similar ends to their 2013-14 campaign, but you have to look deeper to see what it means to the franchise.

That being said, here is what I took away from the teams that won and lost this past week:

Saints at Seahawks

 Saints – For New Orleans, it might be tough to write this season off as a success, but they were put in a difficult position the moment they lost to the Carolina Panthers and were forced to settle for the NFC’s sixth seed.  All year, the story about the Saints hasn’t been the return to success following Coach Sean Payton’s return, but rather that the team was incapable of winning on the road.  To be fair, that criticism has some merit, but they went on the road to beat a tough Philadelphia team and found themselves playing the next week in the league’s most hostile environment. That’s tough. All in all though, they had a good year. They finished the regular season 11-5 (and somehow ended up as the lowest seed in the conference), won a playoff game on the road, and gave the Seattle Seahawks – who I think is the best team out there – a run for their money.  Not too shabby at all. If I’m a Saints fan, I’m expecting another formidable playoff run next year.

Seahawks – They are who we thought they were.  The conditions and crowd noise definitely were factors in this weekend’s game, but I was amazed by the Seattle secondary – as I am every time I watch them.  Except for some lapses in coverage later in the game, I think they did a great job of handling Drew Brees and keeping him from getting into a rhythm.  Just think, Jimmy Graham didn’t even have a catch.  The best Tight End in Football was shut out completely.  That says it all.  On the offensive side of things though, I thought the Seahawks could have looked a bit better.  Marshawn Lynch did a great job of carrying the workload with 28 carries, but it didn’t look like Coach Carroll really wanted to open up the playbook and finish this game in the third quarter.  Maybe part of this is on Wilson, but if the Seahawks are to beat San Fran next week, I think the offense needs to play a bigger role and keep Kaepernick off the field.  This was a dominant win without the exclamation point at the end, but hey, a win is a win.

Colts at Patriots

Colts – Coming into this game, I thought Andrew Luck and company had a legitimate shot at winning this thing.  I didn’t expect them to, but I figured we’d see a Brady-Luck shootout, and they would have a chance in a game like that.  However Belichick – the evil genius that he is – decided to run the ball, run it some more, then keep on running it until the game was over. Partially thanks to a couple early miscues by Indianapolis, the Patriots dictated the tempo from the beginning. A tough way to go out, but this loss to end the year doesn’t mean the season is a loss for the Colts.  It was their first full year under Chuck Pagano and second under Andy Luck.  They earned a big win over what everyone thought was a big-time team in Kansas City, and didn’t get embarrassed by the Patriots.  The arrow is definitely pointing up for this group.

Patriots – This win showed us that although Tom Brady is definitely the centerpiece of this team, he doesn’t have to bear the onus all the time.  No, he doesn’t have the weapons around him in the passing game that Peyton does, but he has a hell of a running game and the best coach in football.  This time, Brady was asked to play game manager and hand the game off to Lagarrette Blount and Stephan Ridley.  They made the Indy defense look silly – again – without relying on Tom Brady.  Big win for the Pats, as they introduce a game plan that could help get them another championship. The physical run game adds another dimension to this team, one that could help give them the upper hand when the weather worsens.

49ers at Panthers

Panthers – This was the first time we got to see Cam in the playoffs, and considering what he was dealing with, I don’t think he did a terrible job.  San Francisco’s front seven stopped the Carolina running game before it really started, and they never left Newton alone.  Cam was sacked 4 times, hurried on nearly every play, and still managed to put together a decent game, all things considering. Gore and Kaepernick wore down a Panthers defense that to this point, were held to the same standard of the ‘Hawks and ‘9ers. What does this say about Carolina’s defense? To me, it just showed that the offensive line of San Fran was superior to the Panthers defensive front.  Going into this game, I though Kuechly and Thomas were going to be able to compensate for some of the mismatches on the line of scrimmage, but that turned out not to be the case.  The Panthers got beat in the trenches on both sides of the ball, plain and simple.  Looking ahead, I think Carolina has a pretty bright future if they do a good job of reloading in the offseason.  While they do have a great foundation, Cam still needs more to throw to, and the often-banged-up running back situation is cause for concern, and you can always get better on defense.  But this season showed progress for Carolina, and I think they will be perennial contenders in what should be a tough NFC South in coming years.

49ers – San Fran proved that they were a better team than Carolina.  The teams may have been constructed off of a similar blueprint, but the 49ers are built with more care out of superior parts.  There aren’t any weak parts to this team, just areas that may be overshadowed.  The secondary isn’t weak, but linebackers and defensive lineman definitely help take some of that pressure off.  Kaepernick is not a liability – ok, maybe sometimes – he just doesn’t dominate like his wideouts or o-line.  More than anybody else, this team has their formula figured out.  They aren’t stuck in their ways, they are consistently executing the game plan that Coach Harbaugh has drawn up.  In a Lombardi-esque way, this group is saying: “here is what we are, here is what we are going to do, try and stop us.”  Something about that mentality might be intimidating to the remaining teams, as the 49ers have shown that – maybe, just maybe – you can make them break, but they sure as hell won’t bend.

Chargers at Broncos

Chargers – In the beginning of this post, when I was referring to a team that was just happy to be here, these are the guys I was talking about.  While you won’t hear that come out of anyone’s mouth in the San Diego locker room, I’m pretty sure that was the state of mind of the fanbase, and everyone else surrounding the team.  This type of success is not usually expected from a team that just hired a head coach.  Mike McCoy has done a tremendous job in his first year here.  He helped Phillip Rivers turn back into the Pro-Bowl caliber quarterback that he was a few years ago, and maybe pushed him a little beyond that.  Ryan Mathews had a solid year, and Danny Woodhead managed to fill the little shoes that were left behind by Darren Sproles so long ago.  But above all, McCoy somehow managed to get San Diego into the playoffs while playing in a division with the Chiefs and Broncos.  Wow.  This could be the start of a great era for the Chargers.  You stay classy, San Diego.

Broncos – Peyton Manning didn’t throw up all over himself.  That’s really all there is to talk about here.  The Broncos were the better team and they showed it, as the offense looked near-unstoppable.  But somehow, someway, the Chargers recovered an onside kick en route to making it a close game, and all Peyton had to do was seal the deal.  Many – including half of me – were holding their breath, half-expecting another meltdown.  But it didn’t happen, as Manning found Julius Thomas for a couple clutch first downs, and Denver sealed the deal.  Looking forward to their matchup against the Pats, I have some doubt about the Broncos, and it isn’t completely their fault.  Belichick showed that he is more than willing to pound the rock, and that could be a recipe for disaster for a Broncos squad that are not so tough on the run.  But who knows, Manning’s offense looks sharp as ever, and maybe Denver can control the line of scrimmage on defense.  But really, who knows what is going to happen in this next Manning-Brady Bowl?  It’s the NFL, where everything’s made up and previous weeks don’t matter. Just enjoy it.