BY Steve Rudman 06:30AM 12/12/2014

10-point favorites? Seahawks need to be wary

The Seahawks are 10-point picks over San Francisco, but they have struggled before when installed as a double-digit favorite. Remember Tampa Bay last year?

The post-game turkey dinner given Russell Wilson and Richard Sherman by NBC may stick in the craw of the 49ers and their fans. / Drew McKenzie, Sportspress Northwest

Since 1978, when the NFL adopted the 16-game, regular-season schedule, 133 teams have finished 12-4 or better, including the 2007 New England Patriots, who produced a 16-0 record but couldn’t ice it with a victory in Super Bowl XLII, losing to the 10-6 New York Giants. Of the 133, a mere 10 (7.5 percent) won as many as 12 games and a division title after starting 3-3 or worse.

With six wins in their past seven after starting 3-3 while weathering injuries, the Percy Harvin debacle and a rash of Marshawn Lynch psychodramas, the Seahawks will become the 11th such team if they win out against San Francisco Sunday, at Arizona Dec. 21 and against the St. Louis Rams Dec. 28 at CenturyLink Field.

According to makers of odds, Sunday’s rematch with the 49ers is expected to be a Seattle stroll, the Seahawks favored by an insulting (to San Francisco) 10 points. Seattle also stifled NFC West leader Arizona 19-3 three weeks ago and should reverse a 28-26 Week 7 loss at St. Louis when the teams engage at the Clink.

Good as are the Rams defensively, Russell Wilson produced the first 300/100 effort in NFL QB history in that meeting with 313 passing yards and another 106 rushing despite taking three sacks.

Then this: In winning three in a row (over 9-3 Arizona, 7-4 San Francisco and 9-3 Philadelphia), the Seahawks have become the first team since the 2010 New England Patriots to produce a three-game winning streak with against teamss with a winning percentage of .600 or above and at least 10 games played.

Impressive stuff. It puts Seattle in line to join the following clubs since 1978 to start 3-3, win at least 12, and capture a division title (Seahawks included for comparison):

Year Team Div. Start Finish Playoffs
1993 Oilers AFC Central 4-4 12-4 L. div. to Kansas City 28-20
1980 Falcons NFC West 3-3 12-4 L div. to Dallas 30-27
1983 Dolphins AFC East 3-3 12-4 L div. to Seahawks 27-20
1998 Jets AFC East 3-3 12-4 L conf. to Denver 23-10
2003 Eagles NFC East 3-3 12-4 L conf. to Carolina 14-3
2004 Chargers AFC West 3-3 12-4 L wild card to NYJ 20-15
2009 Chargers AFC West 3-3 12-4 L div to NYJ 17-14
2012 Patriots AFC East 3-3 12-4 L conf. to Balt 28-13
2012 Texans AFC South 3-3 12-4 L div. to NE 41-28
2013 Panthers NFC South 3-3 12-4 L div, to SF 23-10
2014 Seahawks NFC West 3-3 9-4 Next: SF, Ariz, St. Louis

No wonder the 12s are optimistic about the final three. But . . . take note that no team on the list won a Super Bowl after starting 3-3 and only three of the 10 reached a conference championship game.

Forever the optimist, Pete Carroll brought a measure of levity this week to Seattle’s situation as it relates to the 49ers.

“They’re very close to being how they need to be at the end of the year,” said Carroll. “Nobody knows how this story is going to be written at this point. We count on them being a very difficult team to play as always. Nothing has changed.”

Actually a lot has changed in the Bay, or at least a lot has heated up since the Seahawks defeated  the 49ers on Thanksgiving: the daily grind of Jim Harbaugh exodus stories; the constant thump about Colin Kaepernick’s regression (hasn’t thrown a fourth-quarter TD all season); the disappearance of TE Vernon Davis (no TDs since Week 1).

The embarrassing 24-13 loss to Oakland last week, seven days after the Raiders were hosed 52-0 by the Rams, make the 49ers seem as dysfunctional as dysfunction gets.

To put a face on it, Kaepernick has so exhausted his supply of good will in the Bay Area that 49ers fans earlier this week torched his No. 7 jersey on Twitter, Instagram and YouTube, making the spate of bonfires the most viewed story on CBS three days in a row.

Oddmakers might be right (they usually are) in establishing a 10-point spread. But sometimes they are spectacularly wrong. Only last week, Carolina was a 10½-point underdog to the Saints in New Orleans and won 41-10. Only last year, the Seahawks were a 16½-point pick over 0-7 Tampa Bay at CenturyLink Field and needed the greatest comeback in franchise history to win in overtime.

The 12s should be worried about the 49ers. San Francisco is still officially in the playoff race (motivation No. 1), has dropped two in a row to Seattle (motivation No. 2) and is likely nursing a nasty mad-on after Wilson and Richard Sherman gobbled turkey on the 49ers’ Levi’s Stadium logo during an amusing – but ill-advised – NBC interview following Seattle’s 19-3 win two weeks ago (motivation No. 3).

Also, never underestimate the 49ers on the road. Since Harbaugh became head coach in 2011, no NFL team has won more often away from home than San Francisco:

Team Rec. Win Pct. Skinny
San Francisco 21-10 .677 Harbaugh 20 road wins in first 29 road games
Denver 20-10 .667 Broncos 15 road wins since Manning became QB
New England 20-11 .645 Patriots 14 road wins over past three seasons
Cincinnati 18-12 .600 Bengals 13 road wins since start of 2012
Green Bay 18-12 .600 11 road wins even with Aaron Rodgers injury in ’13

A few other points:

  • The 49ers have won more road games this season (4) than home games (3).
  • The 49ers are coming off back-to-back defeats, but are 4-0 following consecutive losses since 2011.
  • For all of their struggles, the 49ers allowed only one rushing TD since Week 9, tied for the fewest in the NFL over that span.
  • San Francisco controls the clock: The 49ers have put together 25, five-minute drives this season, ranking first in the NFL.
  • The 49ers have scored 41 points on their first offensive possession, second-most behind Green Bay.
  • The Seahawks have never swept the 49ers in a season series since Carroll has been coach.
  • All it takes is one busted play – recall Kaepernick’s 58-yard run in the NFC Championship game – or one misplay – recall Frank Gore’s 51-yard run past an out-of-position Earl Thomas last year in San Francisco that set up the winning field goal – to turn what the oddsmakers are deeming a Seattle stroll into sudden defeat.

Corner Richard Sherman put it best this week when he said, “There’s nothing guaranteed in any given week. I don’t care if you’ve beaten a team a bunch of times. The next time, they can beat you bad. That’s the way this league is. That’s why you have to be prepared.”


  • jafabian

    Sherman’s absolutely right. Let’s look at last years Buccaneers game. The Hawks had no right winning that game and in fact earned losing it by their play in the first half and in opening the 3rd quarter. As Sherman himself stated in the post game, they lost that game but the score didn’t reflect it. The 49ers could have easily been in the Super Bowl last season. There’s no way they can take this game lightly and at the very least Coach Carroll won’t let him. He enjoys winning over Harbaugh too much.

    History has shown Kaepernick isn’t comfortable playing at CenturyLink Field. However the team itself clearly is not comfortable right now playing at their own Santa Clara. (though Sherman and Wilson have said the food is good there) So there’s a possibility that they might actually be more comfortable in this game than they were on Thanksgiving.

    Naaaaah……Hawks gonna repeat.

    • art thiel

      Nothing to lose. It’s a great freedom.

  • Its onlySports(DavidWakefield)

    They know they will shock the NFL world by upsetting Seattle in their place against their arch nemesis. You can bet the 49ers will not lack for motivation or purpose. We beat them by 16 in their building so i understand the spread.Each game is different.
    Here’s to hoping Coach Carroll will be singing “My guys are better than your guys” in the shower sunday night…..

  • RadioGuy

    That photo of Russell Wilson hoisting the turkey leg (yum) is the kind of thing that will end up on the 49ers locker room wall this week. A lot of people are writing off SF because of this reason or that, but they are essentially still the same team that was a Crabtree catch away from the Super Bowl last season. Don’t expect a repeat of the Thanksgiving blowout.

    • art thiel

      Actually there are several key players gone from last year, and replacements have been modest. O-line is a shadow. And Harbaugh’s ordeal doesn’t help.

      • jafabian

        Not a lot to play for when you know the coach and some of the staff will be gone next season and you know you won’t be in the playoffs.

        • RadioGuy

          Wish I felt as cocksure about this game as you guys seem to be. Or should they even bother playing it?

  • Soggyblogger

    SF has almost nothing to lose, and everything to gain if they win. I believe this may allow Kaepernick to play without fear and very loose. We need to play well right out of the gate to keep SF from getting any momentum going.

    • art thiel

      49ers should play with some fury early. Not likely sustainable, but at least should help with the dignity part.

  • Its onlySports(DavidWakefield)

    His statistic about starting 3~3 is what it is. Green Bay started 1~2. Kind of a moot point when you are playing your best football at this time of the year…. One thing for sure about this game?Seattle is acutely aware that any home field advantage in the playoffs cant be overstated and who is the team they love beating the most?Well they stand in the way of that goal sunday. I think the Hawks will be in pulverize mode.

    • art thiel

      The point of the story was to appreciate the long odds the Seahawks have overcome.

      • Its onlySports(DavidWakefield)

        I ‘d surmise that at the end of the day…with that day hopefully being February….we fans and the analysts toast to a team that gave it everything they got despite the odds…and SB champs never have good odds to get back to the play offs and win again. This once 3~3 team has overcome alot. Im proud of them. This was a good article~here is to what they have achieved even thus far which is a chance to defend what they think should still be Seahawk goods.

        • Bayview Herb

          I read in the Spokesman-Review that the prognosticators said that Arizona will have home field advantage throughout the playoffs. Apparently they forgot that Arizona has to go through Seattle to win the division.

          • Its onlySports(DavidWakefield)

            Well they just have poor math skills is all… Looking for the HAWKS to take care of bizz vs the 49ers and head down to the desert next week.If we were fortunate enough to knock off a road win down there?That would leave both teams 11~4 going into that final game of the season. Lets suppose both clubs win their last game and are tied?I believe the 1st tiebreaker is head to head meetings of which we would be the Victor with a sweep of the season series.Even if it was the record within the division that would leave AZ with2 losses and SEA with one (the fake punt fiasco in St.Louis).
            It would be alot of motivation to pay back the Rams… a home win to end it and seal AZ fate of taking home field advantage.

  • poulsbogary

    Most teams find a way of responding when their collective back is against the wall, as the 49ers are this week. But they sure have the look and feel of a beaten and downtrodden team right now. Actually, not team, but organization.

    • art thiel

      Lots of broken parts. Harbaugh is a high-maintenance guy who burns through people.

  • Warchild_70

    What’s more dangerous than a wounded, cornered animal? NOTHING!! Hawks are prepareing for a real donnybrook as they should and I envision a fist fight of the playground variety! It should progress to the chippiness of a Lions/Packers brawl. And Lord forgive me I want to see this kind of game, absolute balls outs, 60 min. of fun and frolics! GO HAWKS!

    • Obi-jonKenobi

      I had the same thought, this could get ugly.

      SF is a cornered animal and is playing the hated Hawks, hated all the more after Sherman – SHERMAN, for God’s sake – feasted not only on kapernick with two interceptions but then feasted on turkey, eaten while seated on their sacred logo and broadcast to all the millions watching at home.

      The refs better check the gloves closely before this game.

    • Bayview Herb

      Headed for the playoffs, one wonders if SF stoops to intentionally injure a key Seattle player, such as Wilson.

  • Bayview Herb

    Repeatedly, I read about the 16 game season. At first I thougt I just couldn’t count. Finally I went to and lo and behold, game 17 vs Rams