If you hadn't heard, there's a big game this week. Well, you're reading this here so of course you've heard, but imagine for a moment you were somewhere else, with someone else's beautiful wife, beautiful house, beautiful car, and most importantly, another team reading this. Then you can pretend you hadn't heard. Because it's real hard for some Yinzer or Cheesehead to believe we're for reals the best rivalry and not some media hype train creation.
Seattle v San Francisco is "the" rivalry in the NFL right now, trumping all rivalries historic, regional, and personal. Two years ago this was unthinkable, and many are still in disbelief . Yet here we are, the belles of the ball. Don't try to talk yourself into any hipster contrarian ideas about this just being a hype only creation of marketing. This game is real, and what makes this a big game is the shift in the narratives it can spawn. Fans instinctively know this game is for bragging rights for a good while, and the run up to the game has spawned some lively debate amongst them.
We all know that stats can be skewed and there are arguments to be made to tell a story by choosing favorable playing time spans, and we often dismiss them out of hand usually when they sound too contrived. And we've been treated to an El Guapo of contrived stats this week. To truly appreciate what's going on we have to discern real narrative/time frames and determine which ones are really part of the story, and which ones are homerrific machinations. And what we have here in front of us are some truly meaningful time frames overlapping in this rivalry.
There is truly a cosmic convergence of storylines and stakes brewing in this game. We've got 4 legit bragging rights time frames unfolding here, and one trump card (good for 10% off @ Fred Meyer on Tuesdays if you're over 65) for each team.
Time frame 1: All time head to head. Usually important with division rivalries but not in this one, tied 14-14. This rivalry has a different, more personal source of bad blood. The winner takes the lead, but it doesn't mean much.
Time frame 2: A San Francisco convenience, aka post Singletary. This narrative features the head to head since Jim Harbaugh's hiring, which is 3 to 1 in favor of the Niners. USC/Stanford might come up too every now and then. Before the last head to head game, the storyline was Harbaugh owned Carroll, the last game changed that, this game will draw Carroll to within one game, or go back to being owned. This narrative is up for grabs on Sunday.
Time frame 3: Nouveau riche, hey we're good too. This narrative is a defense mechanism triggered by the fact that San Francisco is one of the elite storied franchises in the league, and the Seahawks were a newer expansion team when the Niners were in their heyday. This timeline is counted in division titles since realignment in 2002 and the Seahawks lead that 5-3. A percentage of this narrative is up for grabs Sunday.
Time frame 4: Young guns; the rematch. Wilson has the edge and Wilson has the advantage of back to back games at home to start out the series which he leads 1-0, with the 1 being rather emphatic. Kaepernick would probably like to forget his performance in the first game and if he has another poor showing and the Niners lose the story is going to be he can't win in Seattle and possibly worse (Seattle is in his head/can't beat Wilson/Seattle D has him figured out/etc.). If they win it's tied up with a road win for Kaep. This narrative is totally up for grabs Sunday.
Trump Cards: 42-13 & 5 Ring circus. Yes the Niners have 5 rings and yes the Seahawks kicked the crap out of them late last season in the most recent head to head game. Some narratives are just best left unsaid in mixed company and not up for grabs at all.
Combined, all the narratives and division record influences make this a pretty high stakes game on Sunday. This is a rare rivalry, of two teams hitting a championship window at roughly the same time, in the same division, with young 2nd year star quarterbacks. This has all the Peyton Manning vs. Tom Brady drama baked in to a Ravens Steelers hate cake. It is unique, it is the here, it is the now, and yes it is the best rivalry going. For reals.