Thursday Night Football Finds the San Francisco 49ers Hunting For a Division Title

The San Francisco 49ers and the Seattle Seahawks meet on Thursday Night Football tonight, and the Niners have one goal in mind. It’s on a quest to win the NFC West and has a real shot as Week 15 of the NFL season gets underway.

San Francisco 49ers
San Francisco 49ers
Brock Purdy (13) of the San Francisco 49ers celebrates a TD with his teammates. The 49ers face the Seattle Seahawks on Thursday Night Football for a shot at the NFC West division title. (Image: USA Today)

San Francisco (9-4) is out in front of their division rivals, having won their last six games. Another win tonight against the Seahawks (7-6) will make them the undisputed champions. The Niners and Seahawks only have one division game apiece left (against the Arizona Cardinals and L.A. Rams, respectively).

Should the Seahawks pull off an upset, though, it would be a huge coup. It’s a legitimate possibly, as the Niners are dealing with recent injuries that could hurt them more tonight.

The San Francisco Treat

The Niners showed last Sunday that there is life after Jimmy Garoppolo. Previously their starting quarterback, he went down hard in Week 13, paving the way for 22-year-old rookie Brock Purdy.

  49ers Seahawks
Moneyline -175 +150
Spread -3 (-115) +3 (-105)
Over/under O43 (-109) U43 (-112)
  Courtesy of BetRivers  

That paid off, as Purdy went on to beat the Miami Dolphins in that game. He followed up his debut with another strong performance in Week 14 as the Niners made easy work of QB Tom Brady and his Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The rookie had two touchdown passes, a rushing touchdown and a 76.2 completion percentage.

That put San Fran within a game of becoming the NFC West champs. They lead the division and are looking for one more in what is of the toughest games of the remainder of the season.

A victory tonight is achievable, but not guaranteed. Losing Garoppolo hurt somewhat, but losing wide receiver Deebo Samuel last week hurt worse. Even Purdy is having difficulty and could be a game-time decision. If he’s out, San Fran will be pulling in their fourth starting QB of the season, with Josh Johnson next in line.

The Seahawks are coming off one of their worst performances of the season. They stumbled hard last week against the Carolina Panthers as Geno Smith put up two game-changing interceptions.

Similar mistakes aren’t likely today, and the Seahawks have the advantage of playing in front of their boisterous fans. In addition, they have wide receivers DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett, and they’ll both be ready to work some magic.

Heads Or Tails

There’s a lot at stake in this game for both sides, and either could easily win. The Niners have some strength in running back Christian McCaffrey and Jordan Mason, but too much pressure on them will wear them out quickly.

Seattle can take control early. If it does, chalk this game up to the latest in a growing list of underdog wins this season.

In addition, Seattle, despite being 6-7 against the spread, could take the game by seven points or more to cover. Both sides will be pushing the chains, so bettors can expect the over 43 to hit. Seattle has taken down the Niners seven times in their last 10, and this could be another one today.

NFL Continues To Go Soft

It sometimes seems as though the NFL’s leaders sit around with a spinning wheel through which they determine how to mess up the game next. The latest comes through yet another questionable rule change that isn’t going to sit well with anyone.

The league is increasingly taking a stricter stance on player safety, at least on paper. This time, according to NFL insider Tom Pelissero, NFL brass are contemplating a change that would make sacking a QB a violation that results in ejection.

It seems ridiculous, especially given the lack of ability on the part of referees to consistently and evenly call QB sacks during games. Over the past couple of weeks, there have been clean hits that resulted in personal fouls for roughing the passer.

A single penalty can completely alter the course of a game. When it’s called incorrectly, the impact is even greater.

Team owners will have to vote on the recommendation when they meet next March. Between now and then, there will undoubtedly be a lot of chatter going on in team offices and locker rooms.

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