When looking for reasons why the Seahawks can beat the 49ers in Saturday’s playoff game, I feel like I’m on a beach with a metal detector, sweeping back and forth, searching for any little nugget I can find.
It’s much easier to find reasons why the 49ers can beat the Seahawks. My metal detector would be beeping non-stop, unearthing Christian McCaffrey, George Kittle, Deebo Samuel, 49ers No. 1 ranked defense, 49ers at home, 49ers favored by 10, Brock Purdy and a team that has won 10 in a row.
But I’m trying to build a case for a monumental and unprecedented upset in the NFL playoffs because, as you know, a No. 7-seeded team has never beaten a No. 2 team, undoubtedly because this is only the second year each conference has had seven playoff teams.
A 7 will beat a 2 at some point, and if it happens Saturday in the NFC game, I’m guessing most of us will fall over dead, shocked by such an unexpected outcome.
But can we agree that the Seahawks have a better shot to win than Miami, the AFC’s seventh-seeded team and a 13 1/2-point underdog at Buffalo? The Dolphins are starting a third-string quarterback and roll into the playoffs having lost five of their last six.
The Seahawks can counter by saying they enter the playoffs in a bit better shape after winning their last two games even though wise guys could justifiably wonder: “Big deal, you beat the Jets with Mike White at quarterback and the Rams with Baker Mayfield.”
If you keep reading you’ll find good news when it comes to the Seahawks, a variety of historical facts and figures and other impertinent details that help form a flimsy case for an upset. But I would argue that a flimsy case is better than no case at all.
— You’ve heard all week how tough it is to beat a team three times in one season, but that’s not true, and it’s not false either. The 49ers beat the Seahawks in two games this year, but teams that have swept the season series were only 12-7 when they met again in the playoffs. So yes, San Francisco’s on the 12 side of things here, but Seattle’s on the 7 side, and winning seven games out of 19 is more than I thought it would be for the swept team.
— Since 1990, rookie QBs making their first playoff start are 10-17, including 3-10 in the last decade, this according to The Action Network. This is the situation for 49ers quarterback Brock Purdy. Never mind that he’s 5-0 as a starter thus far and looks rather unfazed, unruffled and un-whatever else.
— The 49ers, as mentioned, finished the regular season with a 10-game winning streak. But again, from The Action Network, in the last 20 years 15 teams entered the playoffs with a 10-plus-game winning streak. Those teams went 7-8 in their first playoff game, a good sign for the Hawks.
— Here’s an even better fun fact — first-time playoff quarterbacks as home favorites are 8-14 straight up and 6-16 against the spread.
— In NFL history, double-digit underdogs have won 14 times so it wouldn’t be out of the question for a 10-point underdog like Seattle to do it for a 15th time.
All of those trends lean strongly toward the Seahawks, but I’ve got two more factors that could play a bigger role in a Seattle shocker.
When we watched the Seahawks lose 27-7 and 21-13 to the 49ers this year, we noticed that Pete Carroll’s team was challenged to score. They averaged 10 points. They showed no signs of cracking the 49ers’ defense.
For me, that hopeless feeling disappeared two weeks ago when the 49ers beat the Raiders 37-34 in overtime. Jarrett Stidham made his first NFL start and threw for 365 yards and three touchdowns. Listen, if Stidham can do that much damage through the air, can’t Geno Smith, D.K. Metcalf and Tyler Lockett get a passing attack going against the Niners too?
If I’m offensive coordinator Shane Waldron, I’m charting every play from that Vegas game and seeing what I can do to take advantage of weaknesses in that San Francisco secondary.
This is their best bet to win, and it strays from Carroll’s philosophy of ground pounding as an essential part of the plan, but there’s a good reason why that might not work on Saturday: the weather.
There’s a 90-percent chance of rain Saturday in Santa Clara with half an inch expected. Winds up to 20 mph are in the forecast. If this happens I suspect footing will be difficult for the Niners and the Hawks, and that could be an equalizer for the inferior team.
Maybe a wet ball gets away from Purdy and turns into a pick six. Maybe McCaffrey slips and comes up short of the yellow line on a key third-down carry in the fourth quarter. Maybe Robbie Gould shanks a field-goal attempt.
I know, the same things could happen to Smith, Kenneth Walker and Jason Myers, but if the Seahawks are to win, they need the game to be ugly, filled with goofy stuff and a whole lot of luck with that wet football squirting their way.
You’ll really have to work with me on my last point. Have you run into anyone who thinks the Seahawks have an actual chance to win the game? I haven’t either. If you have, they’re such big Seahawks’ fans, they’re not thinking clearly or objectively.
Here’s the thing — in the sports gambling world, more often than not when it looks obvious, it isn’t. Like most everyone else, I feel like the 49ers are going to win by two to three touchdowns, and if they won by four or five touchdowns, that wouldn’t surprise me either.
I’m guessing most people are betting on the 49ers -10, but that just looks too easy, too good to be true. In these instances, even if it doesn’t make sense, I tend to lean the other way if I were going to bet on the game. Believe it or not, it works out more frequently than not for the team that no one thought much of instead of the team that couldn’t lose.
Call it a hunch, or call it stupid if you want, but I’m thinking the Seahawks will make a game of it and maybe even win it in the sideways rain on Saturday.
Jim Moore is a longtime Pacific Northwest sportswriter and sports radio host on 950 KJR at 10 a.m. weekdays with Jason Puckett, and writes a regular column for the Kitsap Sun. Contact Jim at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter @cougsgo.
This article originally appeared on Kitsap Sun: Could the Seattle Seahawks get a playoff win vs. the 49ers?