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League : NFL

Houston Texans vs Buffalo Bills Prediction & Preview

#129 49ers
49ers -3
#130 Seattle Seahawks
Seahawks 3
Sunday, December 29, 2019 at 8:20pm
Image licensed from USA Today Sports
12 - 3
11 - 4
Sunday Night Football and the only primetime game on the Week 17 slate here as the Seattle Seahawks will host the San Francisco 49ers in a game that will determine who wins the NFC West. Needless to say, it's a crucial game for both sides. The 49ers are playing for the top overall seed in the NFC as well, giving them even more motivation. Oddsmakers have San Francisco as a modest road favorite for this one, which will be televised nationally on NBC.

49ers Exceeding All Expectations

The San Francisco 49ers entered this season with some optimism surrounding the team, but nobody expected them to be this good. It was the first full year of the Jimmy Garoppolo/Kyle Shanahan partnership, so there was a lot of buzz. They've blown past all that buzz, and have been arguably the best team in the NFC the entire year. If they win this game they'll clinch the top seed in the conference, and the road to the Super Bowl will go through the Bay Area. Shanahan might be the best offensive game-planner in all of football, and the amount of easy throws he's able to scheme up is incredible. San Francisco's defense took a massive step forward as well, and defensive coordinator Robert Saleh is a legit head coaching candidate.
They have dealt with some injuries on that side of the ball recently, but are starting to get mostly healthy again. Cornerback Richard Sherman is back in the lineup, and will have an opportunity for a revenge game here against his old team. The trade deadline acquisition of Emmanuel Sanders has reaped a ton of benefits. Even when he isn't catching passes he is stretching defenses and opening things up for teammates. Last week in a pivotal game against the Rams, he got open for the game-sealing bomb on 3rd and 16. Of course, the 49ers also have the league's best tight end in George Kittle. Seattle often struggles to cover tight ends and they just gave up a huge game to Tyler Higbee a few weeks ago, so expect Shanahan to seek to exploit that matchup early and often.
Seahawks Getting Exposed?
The Seahawks have done a great job establishing themselves as consistent winners over the past handful of years. That being said, I think that has more to do with Russell Wilson's continued heroics than anything the organization does particularly well. This might be the least talented Seahawks team in recent years, but Wilson has been making it work. That being said, I've remained skeptical of their ability to continue to play at such a high level. They've gotten pretty lucky all season, winning a ton of games by close margins. Back in Week 1, they escaped with a narrow one-point win over the lowly Bengals, setting the tone for this season. Incredibly, only one of their 11 wins this season have come by more than one score.
That's simply unsustainable, and it suggests regression could be coming soon. They've been on the verge of falling apart the past few weeks, losing two of their last three with the only win in that span coming against a spiraling Panthers team. They got crushed by a mediocre Rams team a few weeks ago and then got embarrassed at home against the Cardinals in their most recent game. Even though Kyler Murray got injured on Arizona's first drive of the second half, they still lost by 14. It was an ugly loss, and they also suffered several more injuries on top of it. They have virtually no healthy running backs after Chris Carson was lost for the season, causing them to go out and sign Marshawn Lynch off the street. They will also now be without left tackle Duane Brown for this one, which is an even bigger loss.

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