As two of the premier franchises in the NFL, the San Francisco 49ers and Seattle Seahawks both have high expectations for 2013. NFL fans should have high expectations as well. Both teams are built in a similar fashion and intensely dislike each other. Add all of that up and it makes for great television. Here are five reasons why the 49ers and Seahawks will be must-see TV in 2013:
The rivalry between Jim Harbaugh and Pete Carroll goes back to when the two were in the collegiate ranks. It came to a head in 2009 when Harbaugh’s Stanford Cardinal had run up the score on Carroll’s USC Trojans by going for a two-point conversation late in a 55-21 Stanford win. The two men met at mid field and the infamous “What’s your deal” exchange took place.
When Carroll left USC for Seattle in 2010, it appeared their frosty relationship was in the rear view mirror. The next season, however, Harbaugh took the job with the 49ers. For fans, it couldn’t have worked out better to have two coaches that were already rivals to be in the same division and meeting twice a year. With both the 49ers and Seahawks being two of the league’s top teams, there’s a good chance the two coaches will be going at it for a while.
The Teams DO NOT Like Each Other
As if their on the field battles aren’t testy enough, the 49ers and the Seahawks have begun to go at each other in the press. Five Seahawks have been suspended since 2011 for PEDs (most recently Bruce Irvin) and Harbaugh was not shy in sharing exactly what he thought about that.
“It has no place in an athlete’s body,” Harbaugh said. “Play by the rules, and you always want to be above reproach, especially when you’re good. Because you don’t want people to come back and say, ‘Oh, they’re winning because they’re cheating.’ That’s always going be a knee-jerk reaction by people in my experience ever since I was little kid.”
“He’s never gonna be out there lined up against me. I wish he would. I’d put my hands around his neck,” Browner said.
Carroll recently tried to calm the situation a little by saying that Harbaugh has done a “marvelous job” but you can bet he might not be so politically correct if he was asked privately about what he really thought. All of the trash talking will only lead to more media build up and a more volatile relationship for two teams that have already developed a significant rivalry.
Kaepernick and Wilson
Colin Kaepernick and Russell Wilson represent what could be the future of the quarterback position in the NFL. Along with Robert Griffin III, the two signal callers bring a dual threat with running and passing like we’ve never seen in the league.
Both quarterbacks showed a knack for being able to make plays while not turning the ball over. Kapernick was only intercepted 3 times over his seven regular season starts and threw 10 touchdowns. Wilson threw 26 touchdown passes to 10 interceptions but was only intercepted twice over his last eight games. He threw 16 of his 26 touchdowns over than span. It’s uncommon for young quarterbacks to be that prolific while limiting turnovers in such a way.
More than anything else, both quarterbacks seem to have the “it” factor. Kaepernick played with ice in his veins during the playoffs last season. He set an NFL record for rushing yards by a quarterback with 181 in a divisional win against the Green Bay Packers. In the NFC championship game he brought his team back from a 17-0 deficit to earn a Super Bowl birth and ultimately came five yards from winning the championship after another impressive comeback against the Baltimore Ravens.
Wilson showed similar poise and knack for bringing his team from behind. The Seahawks were 7-1 in the second half of the season and Wilson brought the Seahawks back from a 14-0 hole against the Washington Redskins and a hobbled Griffin in the last year’s Wild Card round. Down 27-7 at the Atlanta Falcons, the Seahawks came all the way back to take lead before losing on a late Matt Bryant field goal. Wilson was instrumental in the comeback accounting for 445 total yards and three scores.
They’re Old School
Today’s NFL is all about the pass. Rules are set up for teams to be able to throw the ball all over the field and a lot of rosters are built to play that way. The 49ers and Seahawks are old school, run first teams that use the power running game to set up everything else they do.
The 49ers were third in the NFL with 5.1 yards per carry in 2012. Their 2491 total rushing yards were good for fourth best. The Seahawks finished fifth in the league with 4.8 yards per rush but were third in rushing yards with 2579. As both teams develop young quarterbacks, the running game will continue to be at the forefront of their offensive attacks.
San Francisco and Seattle are also built around hard hitting, stout defenses. The Seahawks led the NFL in points allowed in 2012 by only giving up 245 (15.3 a game). The 49ers were second with 273 (17.6 per game). Good defense will keep teams in a lot of games and as long as these two units are healthy, there is not a team in the league they can’t beat.
Super Bowl Contenders
The 49ers and Seahawks aren’t only the two best teams in the NFC West, they’re also two of the best in the entire NFL. The 49ers currently have the best odds to win the Super Bowl at 6/1 while the Seahawks come in fourth at 8/1. The Denver Broncos and New England Patriots are second and third which means odds makers view Seattle and San Francisco as the cream of the crop in the NFC.
Since the teams are expected to be neck and neck this year, their two regular season match-ups will be all that more significant. One win could be the difference between a first round bye and a wild card or even home field advantage in a possible playoff game. The teams meet in week two at Seattle and again in week 14 at San Francisco.
Stay tuned…it’s going to be an interesting 2013 season out west.
Photo Credit: (Brian Bahr/Getty Images)
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