By Colm O’Mealoid – you can follow Colm on twitter [twitter-follow screen_name='Irishjet']
Our Setanta Sports sponsored NFL game this weekend features two preseason favourites for the Superbowl.
The similarities between the Seattle Seahawks and the San Francisco 49ers do not end there however, as both teams play excellent defence, run the ball extremely well, and have a young quarterback that can throw and run the ball effectively.
The Seahawks have lived up to the preseason hype, looking very impressive on both sides of the ball, while the 49ers, a team that appeared in the Superbowl last year, have struggled at time.
The Seahawks are almost unbeatable at home, and while not as impressive outside CenturyLink Field, they come to Candlestick Park with an impressive 11-1 record.
The 49ers have struggled, with Colin Kaepernick unable to emulate his very impressive 2012 season so far.
Look for a defensive battle on Sunday, with both teams relying on their run game and working off play action in the passing game. The 49ers received a boost with Michael Crabtree returning from injury last week, which will help their passing game massively.
The Seahawks on the other hand, will continue to play without their star wide receiver Percy Harvin, a player they traded their first round pick for this year.
Although it’s unlikely that the 49ers will overtake the Seahawks in the NFC West, they must keep winning in order to secure a wildcard spot, and for that reason, we are going with the home team in this matchup.
Ahead of this clash, Fantasy5Live’s NFL expert @irishjet has picked his 5 players to watch:
Frank Gore, Running Back, 49ers
The Seahawks are the top ranked defence in the entire league, but this is a result of their massive home field advantage and their excellent pass-rush and secondary. Their run defence is good but teams have had some success this year against them. The 49ers will try to set a tone at home and give the ball to Gore often. Kendall Hunter will also see some carries, but Gore is the bell cow in the run game.
Vernon Davis, Tight End, 49ers
Davis is one of those rare football players that can block almost as effectively as he can run and catch, and for that reason probably doesn’t put up some of the numbers that the likes of Jimmy Graham do from the tight end position. That said, Davis has benefitted from the absence of Michael Crabtree, with an increased role in the passing game. Davis is also in the middle of a hot streak, catching a touchdown in each of his last three games. With Crabtree still shaking off the cobwebs, Davis should produce on Sunday.
Marshawn Lynch, Running back, Seahawks
In a similar logic to the Frank Gore pick, the Seahawks will hope to establish an early rhythm by running the ball. Lynch is having an excellent season so far, coming into this game as the 6th leading rusher, and also scoring 11 touchdowns. For our F5L players, Lynch is a solid pick as he rarely shares carries, and crucially get the ball in the red zone.
Russell Wilson, Quarterback, Seahawks
With both teams being so dominant defensively, it may be unwise to pick a quarterback for fantasy purposes. The 49ers are the third best defence in terms of passing yards allowed. Wilson however, has satisfied a lot of fantasy owners this year with his combination of passing and running. If the Seahawks are going to win, they will need Wilson to throw the ball, and while he doesn’t have the weapons that some others have, he has shown that he has the ability to throw the ball at an elite level.
Anquan Boldin. Wide Receiver, 49ers
I’m tempted to go with Kaepernick with this final pick, but he has been a big disappointment in fantasy circles this year. Kaepernick’s struggles have affected Boldin’s game in the middle part of the season, and Boldin will face a tough test against the excellent Seahawks cornerback, Richard Sherman. His production has improved recently however, seeing a year high 14 targets last week against the Rams.
- On 49ers: Quarterback advantage goes to Wilson, Seahawks (sacbee.com)
- 49ers’ Crabtree says he’s too excited about showdown (sacbee.com)
- All-22 Breakdown of Micheal Crabtree’s Return and his Effect on the Offense (ninersnation.com)
- December toughness key in dismantling division foe for 49ers (sacbee.com)
- Matchups to watch: Seahawks at 49ers (espn.go.com)
- San Francisco 49ers, Joe Staley’s Return, Bruce Miller’s Importance (ninernoise.com)
- Golden Nuggets: Get Loud ‘Stick, the Seahawks are Coming to Town. (ninersnation.com)
- 49ers seeking revenge against Seahawks (sportsradioservice2013.wordpress.com)
- San Francisco 49ers: Week 14 vs. Seattle Seahawks (isportsweb.com)
- Crabtree quickly makes Kaepernick’s life easier (sportsradioservice2013.wordpress.com)