Week 15 starts off with a bang on Thursday Night Football, as the two leading contenders to win the NFC West will face off. The San Francisco 49ers will head to the Pacific Northwest to play the Seattle Seahawks, in a rematch of a September tilt the 49ers won by a final score of 27-7.
The 49ers enter this game on a six-game winning streak, inclusive of their 35-7 drubbing of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Week 14. The Seahawks are looking to bounce back after a disappointing 30-24 home defeat to the Carolina Panthers.
We’ll take a look at three things to watch in this colossal divisional matchup.
San Francisco Hopes To Be Purdy Good
When quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo went down with a foot injury in the first quarter of San Francisco’s Week 13 game against the Miami Dolphins, many felt like their chance to make a deep playoff run went out the window. The 49ers would have to downgrade from a successful quarterback in Garoppolo, to a complete unknown in rookie signal caller Brock Purdy. The chances that the offense would be pared back seemed pretty high.
However, Purdy has been pretty solid. He played well in relief of Garoppolo against the Dolphins, and (shockingly) was the best quarterback on the field against Tampa Bay. He’s probably not going to do anything to put the team on his shoulders, but as long as he takes care of the football, San Francisco has a good chance to win week in and week out. His status for Thursday night is a bit in question, as he suffered an oblique injury against Tampa Bay.
Backfield Blues In Seattle
At this point in the season, there’s a comfort level that Seattle’s passing offense will be solid in most games, thanks to the surprising play of quarterback Geno Smith. However, it’s anyone’s guess as to who will lineup behind him and beside him in the backfield.
Last week, Travis Homer and Tony Jones handled running back duties for Seattle, at a position that has become pretty banged up in recent weeks. The Seahawks hope to have either or both of Kenneth Walker and DeeJay Dallas back in the lineup on Thursday night, which would allow Homer and Jones to slot in their usual special teams role. Walker has had an impressive rookie season, and would greatly boost the Seattle offense if he’s able to make it back.
A Sense Of Urgency For Both Teams
On the surface, it would seem like this game is bigger for Seattle. A win would keep them ahead of the suddenly competitive wild card race in the NFC, and would keep them in the mix for a division crown.
However, don’t sleep on the importance of this contest for the 49ers. They just lost wide receiver Deebo Samuel for an unknown length of time, and would love to give some of their main players a bit of rest heading into the postseason. If San Francisco drops this game, they may not have an opportunity to do that.