The brewing Seattle Seahawks and San Francisco 49ers rivalry sparks dissension in our NFL Crystal Balls. Two great teams, but Seattle hangs on to the crown. Dan Salem and Todd Salem debate in part two of this week’s TD Sports Debate. Two brothers from New York yell, scream and debate the NFL and sports.
The Seattle Seahawks are not going to win 13 games again this season. The passing offense is still a question mark. Marshawn Lynch is losing his stranglehold on a spot among the elite backs. And this defense simply cannot be THAT good again, can it? I don’t see 13 wins. However, I do see as many as 12 and Seattle winning this division for another year running.
San Francisco is supremely talented. They still lack…something. There was all that controversy in the offseason with Aldon Smith, Jim Harbaugh, Colin Kaepernick and pretty much everyone of note on this roster. Navarro Bowman is going to be out as well. I still like the players; I just don’t love the cohesion after the way last season ended and this year has started. Second place is all but a guarantee just because of the talent disparity. First place is again out of reach though.
The step back for Arizona will prevent this division from finishing in the identical order of last year, but it will be close. The Cardinals will drop a few wins from their tremendous 10-win plateau and finish below .500, although St. Louis isn’t precipitously better in my mind. They could grab a win on last year’s campaign and still finish a comfortable third here.
Here’s how things shake out. I love the Rams’ defense, but it’s still probably worse than both Seattle’s and San Francisco’s. The same goes for Arizona’s defense, especially without their middle linebacker. It’s a loaded group of peers, but the Cards will have the worst defense in the division.
On the other side, I am very, very skeptical of St. Louis’ offense. The Arizona unit should be better but still shaky with Palmer at the helm for another 16 games. Neither offense breeds loads of confidence. Again, both units are a step below their divisional brethren. It’s interesting; all four teams in the West are designed similarly. Unfortunately for the two at the bottom, that means there is no edge to gain.
It’s like we agree and disagree at the same time. Is there a word for that? The only one that comes to mind is unsettled, which is the opposite of the NFC West. This division provides little fodder for debate. It’s almost semantics to argue whether Seattle or San Francisco will win the division, because quite frankly winning your division is not what it used to be. That extra week of rest during the opening round of the playoffs goes to the top two division winners, but has proven itself inconclusive as to whether it’s an actual advantage. Wildcard berths are equally as coveted.
I take pleasure in calling out a team as the worst in their division, while also stating they are good and will be competitive. Such is life for the Rams and Cardinals. The only thing that truly matters is that both teams are not as good as the 49ers and Seahawks. Three playoff berths will not be coming from the NFC West.
So is there a point in arguing whether Seattle or San Francisco is better? Hell yeah! Rivalry is the best thing about sports and these two teams have a fast growing one. Two former college coaches from the same collegiate conference, the PAC 12, now facing off in the same professional division. It’s like a movie, but every season the ending gets to change.
You couldn’t have scripted the ending to last season’s NFC Championship game any better, unless you are a 49ers fan. Obviously you would have changed a few things. But I’m not going to be swayed about 2014. San Francisco is taking down Seattle this time around. The offseason falls into irrelevance the moment the season kicks off. This bodes well for San Francisco, as you noted, and poorly for Seattle who no longer gets to enjoy the sweet taste of victory.
If there is one X-factor in all of this, it’s the running backs in Seattle and San Francisco. Can Frank Gore be a productive running back for another full season in San Fran? He’s been surprisingly consistent during his career, yet a downturn is a matter of when, not if. Will Marshawn Lynch continue to dominate and will the recent legal allegations go away, or cause troubles heading into the season? He’s been a streaky player, putting up two years of over 1000 yards, then three well under, followed by three more of over 1000 yards.
I’m not sure the running game is an actual question mark for either of the west’s top two teams, but the success of their top backs will play heavily into team success throughout the 2014 season.