SEATTLE SEAHAWKS (4-2)
at SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS (4-2)
Kickoff: Thursday, 8:20 p.m. EDT
Line: San Francisco -7, Total: 37.5
First place is on the line in the NFC West when Seattle visits San Francisco on Thursday night.
The Niners have a chance to reassert their dominance over the division. They’ve won 10 in a row SU at home versus division opponents (9-1 ATS), outscoring opponents 82-24 in three games under Jim Harbaugh a year ago. Both of these defenses have been outstanding early, though the red-hot 49ers offense was stumped by the Giants last week (as many points as interceptions: three). The Seahawks were held under 300 yards of offense in both meetings with San Francisco last year.
Can the Seahawks hang with the 49ers on Thursday? For the answer, connect to The Platinum Sheet for all the StatFox Experts picks for every NFL game throughout the 2012 season and playoffs.
Seattle QB Russell Wilson is coming off a career day in leading his team back from a 13-point, fourth-quarter deficit to beat New England last week. He threw for 293 yards and 3 TD in the 24-23 win. He has struggled on the road in his rookie season though, posting a 60.3 passer rating (6.4 YPA, 2 TD, 6 INT). Despite Wilson's heroics last week, RB Marshawn Lynch was bottled up for a season-low 41 yards on 15 carries (2.7 YPC). Although San Francisco's run defense is tough (92 YPG allowed, 9th in NFL), it did just allow the Giants to gain 149 yards on the ground last Sunday. Using a heavy dose of Lynch is likely the game plan on Thursday. That will help keep Seattle turnovers in check (8 in past three games), as Wilson won't be forced to throw very much against the 49ers second-ranked pass defense (183 YPG).
Although San Francisco has the best rushing offense in the NFL (177 YPG), it won't be easy to gain yards against a Seattle team that ranks second in the league in rushing defense (70 YPG). Frank Gore has a pair of 200-yard rushing games in his career against the Seahawks, but has been held to just 51 rushing YPG and 2.9 YPC in his past four meetings with his NFC West foe. 49ers QB Alex Smith appeared to be quite bothered by the sprained the middle finger on his throwing hand last week, tossing three interceptions in a game for the first time since December 2009, a span of 37 games. However, since 2006, Smith has been interception-free in eight of nine meetings with Seattle. He'll once again lean on his favorite targets, WR Michael Crabtree (team-high 44 targets and 30 catches) and TE Vernon Davis (team-best 340 receiving yards, 4 TD).