I mentioned it in my last post, but I feel I wasn’t nearly braggadocious enough, so it’s getting mentioned again. I totally called the Russell Wilson MVP buzz. Here’s what I wrote in an entry after the Seahawks beat the Vikings over three weeks ago:
I’m calling it now. In the next few weeks, you’re going to start to hear some Russell Wilson-MVP buzz among NFL talking heads. He’s going to be the guy everybody is talking about by saying he’s the guy nobody is talking about. Mark my words.
Pretty much nailed it. Here’s Kurt Warner discussing the subject. Here’s CBSSports doing the same. (By the way, this article is pretty funny in a “Fire Joe Morgan” sort of way, as it makes the inane assertion that winning the MVP Award somehow post facto decreases a player’s chances of winning the Super Bowl.) Then there’s The Seattle P.I. calling Wilson an “unlikely” MVP candidate (in the spirit of my “guy nobody is talking about” comment). One of my favorite football writers, Bill Barwell, gets in on the Wilson-MVP buzz, as does somebody from just about every other major NFL media outlet in the country. If you want even more Russell Wilson MVP articles, you know how Google works.
So, yeah, I was completely right about Wilson. And now that I’ve made this fact clear in a sufficiently self-indulgent manner, I’m ready to move on …
This weekend it’s the big game that isn’t. Even if the Seahawks lose, they are still the favorites to get the number one seed in the NFC (victories in any two of their last three games — in all of which they will be favored — will do it); even if the 49ers lose, they are still the favorites to nab the second wild card spot. I keep looking for realistic ways the 49ers can get bumped from the playoffs, but I’m coming up mostly empty-handed. The likeliest way this happens is the Cardinals overtake them, but this would probably require a 49ers loss this weekend and a Cardinals win in Seattle. Another possibility is the 49ers lose two of their final four games and the Cowboys and Eagles run the table the next three weeks. The loser of their Week 17 matchup would then be the second wild card by dint of having a better conference record than the Niners (the winner would take the NFC East). If both these scenarios seem quite far-fetched, it’s because they are, which is why FO is giving the 49ers a 77% of making the playoffs. They are probably getting in.
And that’s a shame because a) they’re the 49ers and I wish general sports-ill upon them and their fans, b) if they make it, they will be a likely opponent for the Seahawks in the divisional round. That’s a tough matchup for the ‘Hawks — much tougher than I’d like to see (71-16 in the last two meetings, notwithstanding). It’s an unfortunate byproduct of the four best teams in the NFC being in two divisions. The talking heads are big on the 49ers as the “peaking at the right time” team. And although I believe this is a vastly overrated thing, I do believe the 49ers are a bit better now than they were at the beginning of the year, and they were already very good then. If I could pick a first playoff opponent for the ‘Hawks, the 49ers would be dead last on my list.
Ultimately this game might not mean anything in terms of playoff standing, but it should still be fun and exciting. It is Seahawks-49ers, after all. Most of the pundints (copyright: Richard Sherman) I’ve heard are picking the 49ers to win in a defensive battle (this is supposedly going to be a “let-down game” for the ‘Hawks — something else I believe is vastly overrated, if it exists at all), so I’m going to zag and say the Seahawks win in a quasi-shootout. I’m predicting Colin Kaepernick, aided by a now-healthy “big three” — Michael Crabtree, Anquan Boldin, and Vernon Davis — finally has a decent game against Seattle, and Frank Gore pitches in his typical 75 yards rushing. But Marshawn Lynch will get Beastmode going, and Wilson makes enough plays to his “efficient three” — Golden Tate, Doug Baldwin, and Jermaine Kearse — to overcome the Niners offensive push.
My doppelganger game is this RAG (Randomly Awesome Game) from 2005, in which Ken Dorsey (yes, he actually did play in the NFL) nearly brought the 2-8 Niners back from a 15 point 4th-quarter deficit to defeat the 8-2 ‘Hawks. A failed two-point conversion with 30 seconds remaining allowed Seattle to hang on. (The attempt was an incomplete pass from Dorsey to Johnnie Morton, who I forgot / didn’t know ever played for the 49ers.) As you might recall, 2005 was the year the Seahawks went to the Super Bowl, so this is hopefully an especially apt doppelganger game. My prediction: Seahawks 27, 49ers 25.