The final game of the 2019 NFL regular season also has a ton at stake, as the Seattle Seahawks and San Francisco 49ers on Sunday night will determine the NFC West champion, and the overall playoff seeding for four of the six teams in the conference. Seattle has won seven-straight at home over San Francisco since a 19-17 defeat in 2011 and 12 of the last 14 overall between the teams.
How to Watch
When: Sunday, Dec. 29
Time: 8:20 p.m. ET
Live Stream: fuboTV (try for free)
There are a few things settled in the NFC heading into Week 17: New Orleans and Green Bay are division champions, the NFC East winner will be the No. 4 seed and Minnesota is the No. 6 seed. Depending on results ahead of this game, the Seahawks (11-4) and 49ers (12-3) will know by kickoff if they are potentially playing for home-field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs, a bye into the divisional round or the No. 3 seed, in addition to the loser being the No. 5 seed and traveling to face the NFC East champ.
Since the Seahawks defeated the 49ers in Week 10, their path to the No. 1 seed requires a victory to complete the season sweep and have both New Orleans and Green Bay lose. Having the Packers lose is pivotal to Seattle’s bid to move up since a loss in Detroit coupled with a win over San Francisco would give the Seahawks a bye and the No. 2 overall seed.
San Francisco has a more direct path to the No. 1 seed, needing just to win this game. In the unlikely event of a tie, the 49ers would clinch a bye to the divisional round if either New Orleans or Green Bay lose and the No. 1 seed if both fall in Week 17.
While there is never a good time to have a loss, Seattle is coming off a meaningless one in terms of its playoff permutations with last Sunday’s 27-13 defeat at home to Arizona. The bigger news was the injury price the Seahawks paid in the defeat as 1,000-yard rusher Chris Carson is out for the season with a hip injury and C.J. Prosise suffered a broken arm.
That was on top of losing Rashard Penny to a torn ACL in Week 14. Having been so dramatically thinned at the position, the Seahawks brought back one of their links to the Super Bowl in running back Marshawn Lynch, who has not played since the final six games of last season with the Oakland Raiders. The 33-year-old Lynch, who coined the phrase “Beast Mode” and is still best remembered for running through and over the Saints defense in the 2014 divisional round, had four 1,200-yard seasons with Seattle from 2011-15 after being acquired from Buffalo in 2010.
How much offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer will lean on Lynch is unknown, but he still has a standout quarterback in Russell Wilson. Wilson is 123 yards shy of his third 4,000-yard season and one touchdown pass from his third straight with 30 or more.
He also has thrown a career-low five interceptions, though one of them did come in Seattle’s 27-24 overtime win at San Francisco that was also the 49ers first loss. The Seahawks could get back defensive end Jadeveon Clowney for this game after he missed three of the previous five with a core muscle injury. Clowney had a fumble return for a touchdown in the win over the 49ers and has a team-best four forced fumbles to go with three sacks and an interception.
San Francisco is looking for its first 13-win season since 2011 and ensured there would be a new conference champion from the NFC after eliminating the Los Angeles Rams from the playoff chase with a 34-31 victory Dec. 21. Jimmy Garoppolo engineered two key scoring drives in the fourth quarter, including the game-winner that Robbie Gould capped with a 33-yard field goal as time expired.
Garoppolo had a middling game the first three quarters and finished with 248 yards and a touchdown, while also getting picked off twice. The 49ers defense contributed their sixth TD of the season via Fred Warner’s 46-yard interception return and rank third in the NFL with 113 points off 27 takeaways.
Tight end George Kittle, who had five catches for 79 yards and a touchdown, is 33 yards shy of his second straight 1,000-yard season. He missed the first meeting between the teams with knee and ankle injuries, but has only 12 catches for 148 yards in the previous four matchups.