12 November 2019 02:37
Two of the NFC's best teams are duking it out (8:15 p.m., ESPN) on "Monday Night Football." The undefeated 49ers struck first, marching 50 yards in 13 plays before Chase McLaughlin drilled a 43-yard field goal. A defensive holding call on the drive not only gave the 49ers a pivotal first down, it also wiped out an interception by Seahawks cornerback Shaquill Griffin. San Francisco hit paydirt on their second possession, with Jimmy Garoppolo hitting receiver Kendrick Bourne for a 10-yard score. A 30-yard completion to Deebo Samuel, a 22-yard run by Tevin Coleman and a 12 yards completion to Emmanuel Sanders were key plays on the seven-play, 83-yard drive. Follow along below as we provide live updates, analysis and stats for this key NFC West showdown.
© Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports One of the biggest games of the season is coming your way, folks. The Seattle Seahawks will visit the San Francisco 49ers for a pivotal Monday Night Football matchup with playoff implications. San Francisco (8-0) is the NFL's only remaining undefeated team. The Seahawks (7-2) desperately need a win to gain ground in the division and stay near the top of what's become an incredibly competitive NFC playoff race. Looking ahead to this huge game, there are some big questions that need to be answered for both teams. Can Russell Wilson keep making magic? Seattle's defensive woes are well documented, but the Seahawks enter this game with a 7-2 record. That can mostly be attributed to one Russell Wilson, who's undeniably the NFL MVP at this point in the season. Wilson already has four fourth-quarter, game-winning drives on record this season. He's making all the right decisions in clutch situations. Wilson is completing 68.3% of his passes, averages 278 passing yards per game, eludes pressure like nobody else in the league and has thrown 22 touchdowns with just one interception so far this year. Pressure hasn't stopped Russell Wilson from racking up passing yards this season pic.twitter.com/waLgGnBqtX — PFF (@PFF) November 7, 2019 Yet this week's challenge is one that could finally make Wilson look human. The 49ers have the best pass defense in the NFL, allowing an absurd 138.1 yards per game. They bring heat every single play, featuring multiple pass rushers and an aggressive defensive coordinator in Robert Saleh. Rookie Nick Bosa could legitimately win Defensive Player of the Year if he keeps up his current pace. We cannot wait to see who comes out ahead when Wilson takes on this defense. © Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports Can the Seahawks fix their pass defense? Prior to Week 10, the Seahawks ranked fifth-worst in the NFL against the pass, allowing 278 yards per game. The defensive secondary has struggled to contain opposing receivers, and up front the defensive line isn't getting enough pressure, logging just 15 sacks in nine games. Only 1 team in the NFL has a worse pressure rate than the Seahawks defense, and only 2 are on pace to finish with fewer sacks. If Seattle's defense isn't much sharper than it has been lately on Monday night, then we should expect Jimmy Garoppolo to have another big game. Fresh off a career game against Arizona, he's been outstanding since the arrival of Emmanuel Sanders, who has caught 11 passes for 137 yards in the two games he's played for San Francisco. © Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports Can Chris Carson get going? Going back to last year, Chris Carson has established himself as one of the best running backs in the NFL. He comes into Monday night's game with 764 yards and three touchdowns on the ground, adding another 177 yards and two scores on 24 receptions. Simply put, more often than not Carson is the engine that drives Seattle's offense. If he's making positive gains on the ground, the Seattle passing game becomes lethal. The 49ers are exceptional against the pass but can be run on. They allow 4.7 yards per carry and over 102 yards per game. The matchup between Seattle's run game and San Francisco's defense is key to this Monday Night Football showdown. How will the 49ers replace George Kittle? The 49ers refused to rule tight end George Kittle out for this game, but he didn't practice once since injuring his knee in the team's last game against Arizona and is listed as doubtful to play. So, we're assuming Kittle won't go, and if he does that he'll have limited effectiveness. Kittle is one of the best tight ends in the NFL and is a huge key to the 49ers run game in addition to his pass-catching prowess. Look for Ross Dwelley, who caught four passes last week, to take on a bigger role Monday night. Additionally, the 49ers will finally have fullback Kyle Juszczyk back in action for the first time since early this season. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports Can Seattle slow down the 49ers' potent run game? The Seahawks don't defend anything very well. They're allowing 4.7 yards per carry and have allowed 12 rushing touchdowns this year — the second-worst mark in the league. That hasn't hurt this team too much this season, because Russell Wilson and Co. are so darn potent offensively. However, the 49ers present an entirely new level of difficulty on both sides of the ball and bring the NFL's second-best rushing offense into this game. San Francisco averages 171 yards per game and has scored 13 rushing touchdowns. This strength-versus-weakness matchup could get out of hand fast in favor of the home team on Monday Night Football. Related slideshow: The biggest in-season NFL trades of all time (Provided by Yardbarker)