Week 15 is here and we have a whole host of important matchups and divisional games to look forward to again, including three games on Saturday. So far it is just the Eagles that have clinched their spot in the playoffs but five more teams can do so this week, including a couple of divisions that can be sealed.
Our Thursday Night game is between the 49ers and Seahawks, with the NFC West title on the line.
San Francisco 49ers -3.0 @ Seattle Seahawks: 43.5
The 49ers have reeled off a six game winning streak to sit at the top of the division on a 9-4 record, with the Seahawks a couple of games back at 7-6. A win for the 49ers seals the division with three games left as they’ll hold the tiebreaker having also beaten the Seahawks earlier in the season. A division win would mean the 49ers return to the playoffs in back to back years for the first time since 2012/13.
Meanwhile, the Seahawks had held a playoff spot for most of the season but three losses in their last four games has seen them drop to the eighth seed in the NFC, just behind the Commanders and Giants (who play each other on Sunday night). They have also now got the Lions to deal with who have won five of their last six and are just one game further back. Pete Carroll has never missed the playoffs two years running as the Seahawks head coach so will be desperate for a win tonight.
Fortunately for the Seahawks, they have recent history in their favour and have won 80% of their matchups with the 49ers over the last ten seasons, including nine of the last ten in Seattle.
It feels like every season the 49ers have to deal with a crazy amount of injuries and this year has been no different. They are down to their third different starting quarterback of the year, Brock Purdy and even he is questionable leading into tonight’s game. Sunday’s win over the Buccaneers also saw them lose Deebo Samuel for at least the next few weeks to an MCL and high ankle sprain.
Fortunately, they traded for one of the league’s top offensive weapons earlier in the season and if there were any hopes of them saving Christian McCaffrey for the playoffs, those have gone by now and we will see him fully involved in both the run and passing game. The 49ers have won every game in which McCaffrey has seen a full workload since the trade and in this six game period he is averaging 13.5 carries and 6.8 targets per game, averaging 96.67 total yards. The Seahawks are a fantastic matchup for McCaffrey as only Houston are allowing more rushing yards per game and they are top three in receiving yards allowed to running backs. The line is a little high but I think CMC goes over 123.5 total rushing and receiving yards tonight (McCaffrey o123.5 scrimmage yards). Alternatively, SkyBet have his receiving line at 35.5 compared to 40.5 with Bet365 which could be worth a look.
Brandon Aiyuk leads the 49ers in receiving yards (755) and touchdowns (seven) and in theory should get more than the three targets he had last week with Samuel missing this game. George Kittle could also be in line for a bigger workload and will hope to be more involved than he has been so far this year, his 3.8 catches per game is his lowest average since his rookie year. I prefer the over on Kittle’s line of 39.5 yards and don’t mind him at 21/10 to score a touchdown.
Perhaps the biggest surprise package in the NFL this season, this Seahawks team led by Geno Smith have performed well above expectations. The chances are, if at the start of the season, you offered any Seahawks fan a 7-6 record after 13 games with a realistic shot at the playoffs, they’d have taken it. But they are actually in danger of ending the season disappointed if they miss out, having been in contention for so long. After tonight’s game they face the Chiefs before a tricky matchup with the Jets and a potential banana skin against the Rams in Week 18.
Geno Smith has had an incredible season given he hasn’t been a starting quarterback for eight years. He has thrown multiple touchdown passes in all but two games this season and only the elite QB’s like Mahomes, Allen and Burrow have thrown more than his 25 touchdowns. And to add to that, he leads the league in completion percentage, the only quarterback at over 70%. He is plus money (13/10 with Bet365) to throw at least two touchdowns again tonight and I wouldn’t bet against that.
A big factor in Smith’s season is that he has one of the best wide receiver duos in the league to throw the ball to. DK Metcalf and Tyler Locket have almost identical stats with 72 & 71 receptions and 869 & 896 yards respectively. Tyler Lockett is on course for his fourth year in a row with over 1,000 receiving yards and has scored a touchdown in each of his last six games (a franchise record). He is as high as 21/10 to score again tonight and while I like the odds, it’s probably an avoid against this 49ers defense. Both the receivers have their lines set around the 65 yard mark but are only averaging 52 (Lockett) and 58.3 (Metcalf) in home games, so I’d lean the under on both but the chances are one of them hits the over.
Ken Walker had an explosive start to life as the Seahawks starting running back averaging over 100 yards per game through in his first four games after Rashaad Penny got injured. But he struggled in his last two full games, totalling just 43 yards against the Bucs and Raiders. He seems to be back healthy and ready to go for this game and I think I like him to bounce back and hit the over on his 49.5 yard rushing line (Walker o49.5 rushing yards).
This should be another close game and the 49ers definitely have all the momentum leading into it, but I’m taking the Seahawks to record their 11th win in 12 home games against the 49ers. Pete Carroll knows how to beat this San Francisco team and with a third string quarterback and without their top wide receiver, it feels like the Seahawks have a great chance to spring the upset. If that happens then I also think the total goes under the 43.0 line.