Seattle and San Francisco have two games circled on the 2013 schedule
For a lot of folks out here on the West coast, there are two games that stick out: 49ers at Seahawks in Week 2 and Seahawks at 49ers in Week 14. Everything else is secondary.
Remember when the NFC West was the worst division in football a couple of years ago? Yeah, not so much anymore. The "black and blue division" used to refer to the NFC North, but now it's safe to say the West has earned the moniker.
The 49ers and Seahawks are the class of the division and quite possible two of the top teams in the entire NFL. And they're starting to look like each other too. They both have fiery Pac-10 coaches that opposing teams can't stand, physical running attacks, and electrifying young mobile quarterbacks.
Both clubs clearly recognize that they're real contenders and they know that winning the division and earning home field in the playoffs is vital, so the battle for the division crown has already begun. It started a few months ago when free agency opened and the arms race is in full swing.
The Seahawks acquired Percy Harvin, who looked like an MVP candidate for a solid chunk of last season, and talented defensive linemen Cliff Avril and Michael Bennett. They seem to be following the New York Giants model of success: stack your team with as many pass rushers as possible and just attack the quarterback.
Joe Staley, the 49ers left tackle, said recently what football fans already know, that Century Link Field (aka the Clink) gets so loud that the offensive line can't hear anything and they have to go on the snap of the ball. This gives the Seahawks' pass rushers a fraction of a second head start, which crucial in the trenches and gives the defensive line a huge advantage.
The 49ers answered with some big moves of their own, attempting to fill some holes on a very talented roster. The addition of Anquan Boldin provides some veteran leadership for a young and developing receiver corps and screams 49ers. The niners like receivers that will be physical and hit people down field as part of their power running game, a role that suits Boldin perfectly. The team also picked up Nnamdi Asomugha in hopes that he can return to form and help out a secondary that struggled down the stretch in 2012.
Both teams have made plenty of other small moves and let some important players leave, but the major moves indicate that they both know they're only a piece or two away from a title and this is the year to go for it.
There's a lot to look forward to this season in the NFL but, in this budding rivalry, the goals are simple: win the offseason then win the division then win the Super Bowl. Anything else will be a disappointment for both the Seahawks and the 49ers.