The Seattle Seahawks may be 4-1 but they are still not atop the NFC West. That honor belongs to the San Francisco 49ers, who are 4-0 and genuinely look like contenders for at least a playoff spot. At a minimum, they have far and away the best defense in the division and arguably among the NFL.
San Francisco smoked the Cleveland Browns 31-3 on Monday Night Football to remain undefeated, while the heavily hyped Browns still haven’t spent a day above .500 in this young season. The 49ers gashed Cleveland for 275 yards rushing, harassed Baker Mayfield (8/22 for 100 yards, 2 INTs, lost fumble) into getting mercy-benched, and Richard Sherman reminded everyone that his ball skills are still elite.
So no, there won’t be a battle between two first place teams when the Seahawks and Browns when they play each other on Sunday. But unlike the Seahawks, the Browns are the ones whose backs are now firmly against the wall. They sit at 2-3 and if Seattle beats them, they might be done for when you consider they are at the New England Patriots after the bye week.
Of course, this is a week to week league. The Browns were disappointing against the Los Angeles Rams two weeks ago, blew out the Baltimore Ravens 40-25 just eight days ago, and then proceeded to defecate all over themselves on national television in Santa Clara. Freddie Kitchens’ squad is desperate for a win this Sunday — they haven’t even won at home yet — and it’s one of those dreaded 10 AM starts that Seahawks fans have long loathed.
The Seahawks have to be legitimately worried about the 49ers in the long-term, but in the short-term they need to take care of business against what looks to be a talented but severely underperforming team on the brink of cratering into another early offseason. Seattle needs the win to keep pace in the NFC West race, Cleveland needs to win to keep its season alive.