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Seahawks-49ers keys to the game: How Seattle can win their season finale

San Francisco 49ers v Seattle Seahawks Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

Week 17. It’s hard to believe it’s already here. The end of the regular season. The Seattle Seahawks are lucky enough to have already clinched their division and a home game in the playoffs. Unfortunately, they have lost their grip on the #2 seed in the NFC, which is still up for grabs if the Atlanta Falcons find a way to lose at home on Sunday. I wouldn’t count on that, but stranger things have happened.

Seattle’s final regular season contest takes place on the road against the San Francisco 49ers. The 9ers, who wonderfully screwed themselves out of the first pick in the draft with a victory last weekend, look to bring their win total to a whopping ‘three’ against the Hawks. For Seattle to have any hope at getting a first round bye, they need to make sure this doesn’t happen.

While San Francisco has looked terrible for most of the year, they have been somewhat decent as of late and division games should never be overlooked. While I don’t expect the Seahawks to lose this game, it won’t be as easy as most expect, which should be beneficial heading into the postseason.

The key to victory in this matchup is simple: execute. I’ve said that quite a few times throughout the course of this season, but it’s so pertinent to this specific moment that it had to be reiterated. There is no way in hell that Seattle should lose this game, but they’ll have to execute to make sure that doesn’t happen.

Moving beyond that, there are a few keys that I want to touch on since the Seahawks are about to enter the volatile terrain of the NFL postseason. While this season has been an extremely up-and-down affair, counting Seattle out from a deep January (and hopefully February) run is pretty stupid at this point. They have the tools to do so. Nathan Bishop, formerly of Lookout Landing, said it best:

Pete Carroll tends to save up the secret sauce for the playoffs on a yearly basis, overcoming vanilla schemes during the regular season with pure talent. I don’t expect the January transition to be any different this year. But, again, execution is key.

With stalwarts such as Earl Thomas and Tyler Lockett heading to season-ending Injured Reserve, it becomes more important than ever for this team to stay healthy. The margin for error is always slim in the league. When you are missing players as important as these two, the margin dwindles to about zero. The Seahawks can hardly afford to lose another starter when they’re about to play the best this conference has to offer.

While winning in Santa Clara is paramount to securing a first round bye, Seattle doesn’t control its own destiny. This means that there is a decent chance that, if victory is achieved in their home playoff game, a road trip to play in a dreaded 10 A.M. east coast start is very possible. There is a certain... hatred (I believe the appropriate word is?) that Seahawks fans look back upon these games with and for good reason. For the lack of a better phrase, they’re pretty gross.

Getting into the groove of starting games quickly is imperative. Seattle can’t afford to spot their opponents 20 points in the first half and then make a furious comeback. While that is literally a winning formula, it is not a sustainable formula, and sustainability is the name of the game when you’re facing three or four of the league’s best teams in a row.

Finally (yes this madness is almost over), the Seahawks need to figure out a way to dominate their opponents. It all starts in the trenches and it really seems like they have been outmuscled in this area all year long.

The necessary pieces are present. Seattle has the coaching, talent, and overall ability to make a run through the playoffs and into the Super Bowl. Despite what most people think, they can even win the damn thing. I am indeed an eternal optimist, but what the hell has this team done over the last six years that tells you we shouldn’t expect the unexpected?

There comes a time where the sample size gets a little bit too big to deny that certain players are destined for greatness and I am fucking positive that this group is.

There is still a long, arduous road ahead. None of it will be easy, but nothing worth having is ever easy, is it? The journey begins in Santa Clara on Sunday. We’re about to see what the Seahawks are all about.