The NFC Playoff Picture could snap into perfect focus Sunday. Before then, all eyes will be glued to Thursday Night Football on Prime, watching the outcome of the San Francisco 49ers descent into the Seahawks notoriously hostile and deafening Lumen field. Seattle enters Week 15 in a position they'd rather not be -- slipping out of the playoff picture. The beloved Pacific Northwest team lost to the Niners early in the season and need to tie the series with a win this Thursday night. The future of the NFC postseason principles rests in the final score of Week 15's Thursday action. Can the Seahawks keep themselves in the race or will the 49ers rookie Iowa State quarterback Brock Purdy hurl the final dagger at Seattle's playoff chance?
The Seahawks Slide
Seattle has put themselves in a stomach churning predicament. After a series of four strong wins they've been sliding further out of the playoff race each week. They've lost three out of their last four games, which has forced them into a must-win situation against San Francisco. If the Seahawks lose to the 49ers they will be shoved against the wall and left with the stressful task of wining-out, if they want to keep the playoff power in their own hands. And even if they can manage to silence San Francisco Thursday night and stay in the NFC West race, what happens with the Lions and Giants on Sunday will undoubtedly factor into their postseason dreams.
The Seahawks have a beast of a final stretch, which adds another element of do-or-die to an already make or break Thursday face-off. After Seattle hosts the Niners, the team has to beat Magic Mahomes' Chiefs at Arrowhead before flying home to battle the playoff chasing New York Jets and their final opponent, the Los Angeles Rams. The NFC race is a wild one and with the Seahawks and Giants both plummeting at the absolute worst possible time, there's no room for error if Seattle wants to pop the bubble.
The Seahawks slide began with Tom Brady and the Bucs sudden rejuvenation Week 10 and then they lost all traction post Bye week, when they struggled to find a way to beat the flailing Raiders at home. Seattle fans were expecting an easy path to turn things around Week 14 when they hosted the Carolina Panthers. Geno Smith's Hawks stunned fans, losing 24-30 at home to a Carolina team that's been searching for leadership all season long. Their shocking loss to the Panthers solidified their do-or-die reality heading into the final four games of the regular season. Could a hostile home-field advantage Week 15 give the Seahawks the advantage they need to keep their NFC West Playoff dreams alive?
The Infamous Seattle 12s Are Hoping To Shake Brock Purdy
The Seahawks postseason aspirations may be slipping from their grasp, but they'll have one massive weapon working in their favor Thursday night. The 12s, Seattle's fans, are some of the loudest in the league and teams handed the challenge of facing the Seahawks on their home turf know how harsh the environment at Lumen Field can be for opposing teams.
"I think this is the most hostile environment you could probably play in," Purdy said on Tuesday. "Either here, or [Kansas City Chiefs] Arrowhead so I'm excited for it. All these guys have played here a bunch of times, so just hearing them out, what's good, and what's not, in terms of communication and operation. We will be ready to roll with it." San Francisco's third starting quarterback this season is hoping to use his experience playing at inhospitable college stadiums to prepare him for the environment ahead of him in Seattle. Purdy will be a gigantic factor Thursday since the Iowa State built quarterback is also nursing both an oblique and ribs injury.
If the Niners are forced to sit Purdy they'll be cornered into starting their fourth quarterback this season, veteran Josh Johnson, which the Seahawks would be able to exploit. "We've had him through, and Josh has been everywhere," Carroll said. "We've seen him play for a number of teams. He's always been a real accomplished vet. He's a great kid, really a complement to your program. So, if they go that way, he'll bank on his experience and he'll play really smart and run that team well, I'm sure."
However, after Brock Purdy's impressive Week 14 starting performance against Tom Brady's Buccaneers and Week 13 save after Jimmy Garoppolo left the game with a broken left foot, it will take more than a few bruises and aches to keep the rookie off the field. After all, everyone is beaten up this late in the season.
The 12s of Seattle are fired up for the do-or-die match up and are ready to impose their formidable cheers Thursday night, hoping to shake Purdy's confidence. San Francisco's man behind the center will be forced to step up in a big way and the NFL newbie is ready for the challenge. "I feel like this is part of the game," Purdy said. "A lot of the guys have said, welcome to the NFL in terms of you get banged up a little bit, you have to be ready to roll .n four days. You have to learn another install, you have to memorize plays, you have to get guys going around you, so this is it. This is the best of the best. And for me, I look at it as a challenge."
The Seahawks Backs Are Against The Wall
The Hawks are behind the 49ers in the NFC West, and are fighting with the Commanders and Giants for the final NFC playoff position. Plus there's the Lions to worry about. Yes, as crazy as it sounds, Detroit could still edge out the Seahawks. Seattle has their backs against the wall and if they don't want their future to be determined by a game they aren't even suiting up for, they'll need to win Thursday night.
Besides having a game changing 12th man, the Hawks are getting their leading rusher Kenneth Walker III back from his ankle injury just in time for the definitive Thursday night trial. Seattle's run game and defense have been stumbling recently, brewing doubt amongst the league over whether the Seahawks can edge out a solid 49ers team.
When Seattle's signal caller Geno Smith was asked if he feels like they are a playoff team the quarterback replied, "We have to prove it. Nothing I can say up here is going to make us a playoff team. We have to go out there and play."
Coach Pete Carroll knows they have to win in order to stop San Francisco from clinching the NFC West and keep their playoff race alive. No one in Seattle wants to give away their power in deciding their playoff future. The roaring fans should give the Seahawks an edge, and with Walker's return, a locked-in defense and a beaten up Niners roster, Seattle can keep their hopes alive. The Hawks beloved Coach Carroll is ready for the rivalry.
"These guys happen to be in first place ... in our division and they're playing great," Carroll said. "If you're going to have a good year, you have to win games like this. You have to win them. You have to find your way through the great challenges. ... They've got a great run going. What's been really impressive about that is they've done it with different guys. They have some guys banged up, and they've really been able to maintain their level of play. ... This is just a really good team. This is what it takes. It's a great matchup."
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