Two of the NFC's best teams will square off in a marquee "Sunday Night Football" matchup to decide the fate of the NFC West as the Seattle Seahawks take on the San Francisco 49ers.
The latest edition of the heated NFC West rivalry has serious playoff implications. The loser will be forced to play a first-round game on the road as a wildcard team, while a 49ers win would clinch home-field advantage through the playoffs. A win for the the Seahawks would guarantee they at at least get to play on their home field in the wildcard round, while a Seattle win combined with losses by the Green Bay Packers and New Orleans Saints would earn them a first-round bye.
With so much at stake for both teams, here are the Seahawks' keys to victory for Sunday's game.
1. The Offense Needs to Run Through Russell Wilson
With Chris Carson, Rashaad Penny and C.J. Prosise all out, the Seahawks backfield is incredibly thin. The return of Marshawn Lynch is exciting, but it's hard to trust a 33-year-old coming off a season-ending injury and one-year absence. Even Carson was fighting an uphill battle the first time these teams met in Week 10, averaging 3.6 yards per carry, and Seattle won't be able to rely on the rushing attack this week. That means Russell Wilson, who ranks fifth in the NFL in passer rating, needs to come up big.
2. Hold Onto the Football
Seattle squeaked out a three-point win in Week 10, but turnovers almost cost them that game. They fumbled the ball four times, but were fortunate enough to lose only two of those. Seattle's 25 fumbles this year are the fifth-most in the NFL, and overcoming turnovers against an opponent as good as the 49ers is not something you can rely on consistently.
3. The Pass Rush Needs to Come Up Big Again
Part of the reason Seattle was able to overcome those turnovers is because their pass rush wreaked havoc on Jimmy Garoppolo. They got to him for five sacks, intercepted him once and forced him to fumble twice, with the defense recovering both. A rattled Garoppolo completed just 52 percent of his passes in that meeting, and keeping him on his toes in the pocket will go a long way to holding down the NFL's second-highest scoring offense.
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Jason Schandl is not a FanDuel employee. In addition to providing DFS gameplay advice, Jason Schandl also participates in DFS contests on FanDuel using his personal account, username Jaymun. While the strategies and player selections recommended in his articles are his personal views, he may deploy different strategies and player selections when entering contests with his personal account. The views expressed in their articles are the author's alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of FanDuel.