The Seahawks have stepped up this season when the cards are against them. How important is it to beat the 49ers tonight?
Here we are on Thursday, hours to go until the Seahawks second nationally-televised game of the season. Enjoy it, because they won't have another until January.
Like most Seattle fans today, I am talking with a friend about the game. This is either our toughest test of the season so far, or it's simply our toughest test of the season, period. Ellipses. But what if for this team the toughest tests are actually the best chances question mark exclamation point.
So far this team has displayed a pattern that becomes a tiny bit more interesting at the season goes on. Maybe it's not something you've quite realized, but when you find out it probably won't surprise you either:
The Seahawks are 4-0 in games where they are the underdog, and 0-2 when they are favored.
This week is just like most others; nobody is picking Seattle to win. I was watching Inside the NFL on Showtime last night (Call your local cable provider to tell them that Phil Simms is an idiot) and they didn't eat any crow on unanimously picking the Patriots to have no problem beating the Seahawks. In fact, they didn't say anything about the game at all. They put together a nice highlight reel (their highlight reels of all the games are one of the best NFL things on TV each week) for Seattle but then talked about other things. In fact, they talked a little bit about Seattle... going back for some reason to the call in the Green Bay game for five minutes.
So there they were again last night with Simms, Chris Collinsworth, and LaVar Arrington and it was as you'd expect: 49ers, 49ers, 49ers. For a lot of us, we get angry when we're picked against and for some reason we give a shit when someone does pick us to win. Like, "Oh LaVar Arrington likes us this week? He's my new favorite former player!" Please. Arrington also picked the Giants to beat the Redskins, so he's not picking teams he likes, he's picking teams that he thinks are going to win. (If you're a youngster, Arrington was a star for the Redskins.)
Please don't give a shit if the Seahawks are favored or underdogs because if everything went according to plan, the Hawks would be 2-4 instead of 4-2. This team likes challenges, not gimmes. For them, this isn't just a challenge tonight but a personal battle and a personal demon that they are dying to overcome. They wanted to beat the Packers on Monday Night in front of the nation. They wanted to beat the Patriots, the class of the NFL in this century. And now they desperately want to beat the 49ers and damn sure they relish the opportunity to beat them on the NFL Network.
Of course, that's all it is: An opportunity.
The 49ers are the proven team, the Seahawks are the up-and-comers. Despite their four wins, Seattle hasn't proven enough to show that they are the favorites to win this division. The 49ers were near the Super Bowl last season and beat Seattle twice and that coupled with the fact that this game is in the Bay Area is why San Francisco is favored to win by a touchdown.
I get the feeling that the Seahawks wish that San Fran was favored to win by twice that much.
The coaches don't like each other. The fans don't seem to like each other (we've kept it pretty civil this week though.) Richard Sherman doesn't like anybody that isn't wearing a Seahawks uniform. If Alex Smith threw a party, invited everyone he knew, he would see the smallest gift would be from Sherm, and the card attached would say, "Go f*** yourself, my brotha!"
Seattle fans really seem to hate San Francisco, and San Francisco fans really seem to be indifferent towards us. All the more reason that a win would be so satisfying. We don't want apathy, we want hate. Win, make it brutal, make it ugly if you have to, but win. Announce yourself to the league and leave with the NFC West lead.
The Hawks have run through the gauntlet and come away with a 4-2 record. I find it satisfying that we've run through that gauntlet and gotten those wins, because nobody else in the NFC West has done that yet. The 49ers have a win over the Packers, but they're left with Bears, @ Saints, @ Patriots.
The Rams are left with Packers, Patriots, Vikings.
What that leaves me thinking is that this is a more important game for the 49ers than it is for the Hawks. Despite the fact that we would be left with an 0-3 divisional record and a 1-3 road record, Seattle is still left with five home games, a Bye week, and all three NFC West teams coming to Seattle. The fact is that we'll be 4-3 if we lose with nine games left and plenty of opportunity to grow into a playoff team even if it's a Wild Card. And then what will we be in the playoffs?
An underdog at every step. I think this team is okay with that.
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