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10-18-2012 15:00

Thursday Night NFC West Battle

by Will Strome - Columnist, NFLWeather.com | 10-18-2012 15:00

The NFC West hasn’t been the powerhouse division of the conference in previous seasons but that’s all in the past. The Arizona Cardinals crept their way to 4-0 before dropping two straight while preseason favorite, the 49ers, currently share a similar record but sit in third behind a rookie quarterback and his surprising Seattle side, building up to a brawl for Thursday Night Football when the Seattle Seahawks fly south to take on San Francisco.

NFLWeather.com forecasts clear skies above Candlestick Park with an evening low in the upper-50s and a southern 5-10 mph breeze. However, the stadium sits at sea level and the field is lower so the bluegrass surface is usually a bit soggy. This has never been an issue for 49ers all-pro kicker David Akers but Akers has already missed five field goals this season and is coming off an undisclosed illness.
Damp field conditions are typical for Seattle who stunned the New England Patriots in the rain last week, 24-23. But away from home is a completely different story, especially against a 49ers team that has won the last three consecutive meetings and hasn’t lost to the Seahawks at home since 2008.

The new and improved Seattle defense is heavy in size and speed. The 49ers might have the leagues best defense (275.8ypg) but Seattle isn’t too far behind, fourth in the NFL with 294.7 yards allowed per game. What separates the Seahawks from San Francisco is their stifling run defense, surrendering only 70 yards a game. However, this week the unit will be put to the test against the league’s top rushing offense anchored by Frank Gore and averaging over 175 yards per game.

San Francisco will run the ball both between and outside the tackles to control the tempo and time of possession battle. Gore will get plenty of carries but the 49ers will try to get Alex Smith comfortable early by alleviating some of the pressure with a string of short passes. Seattle is great at pressuring the QB, making him uncomfortable and forcing costly turnovers. Last weekend in the 49ers dismal home loss to the New York Giants, 26-3, Smith threw three interceptions of the four he’s thrown all season. Limiting mistakes is all SF needs to do to get back on track and they have a perfect evening on the dock of the Bay to do so.

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