Race for 2018 NFL Draft No. 1 pick: Can Shanahan 'scheme' a win over Seahawks?
The 49ers have a realistic shot at home against a Seahawks club dealing with myriad injuries
With Jimmy Garoppolo waiting in the wings, the 49ers would probably be fine with winning a few games during the holiday season leading into 2018. In other words, they're not necessarily "chasing" the No. 1 overall pick and will be a trendy "trade down" team come draft time.
So, can they beat the Seahawks in Week 12?
I think so. Kyle Shanahan is one of the game's brightest and most creative offensive minds, the Seahawks' Legion of Boom has been dismantled by injury and San Francisco is coming off its bye week following a win.
Before I start ... let's look at the current 2018 NFL Draft order. I'm now using the official draft order, which will still change a lot.
- Cleveland Browns (0-10)
- San Francisco 49ers (1-9)
- New York Giants (2-8)
- Denver Broncos (3-7)
- Indianapolis Colts (3-7)
- Chicago Bears (3-7)
- Los Angeles Chargers (4-6)
- Cincinnati Bengals (4-6)
- Arizona Cardinals (4-6)
- Oakland Raiders (4-6)
- Cleveland Browns from Texans (4-6)
- New York Jets (4-6)
- Washington Redskins (4-6)
- Miami Dolphins (4-6)
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-6)
- Dallas Cowboys (5-5)
- Buffalo Bills (5-5)
- Green Bay Packers (5-5)
- Seattle Seahawks (6-4)
- Detroit Lions (6-4)
- Tennessee Titans (6-4)
- Baltimore Ravens (5-5)
- Atlanta Falcons (6-4)
- Los Angeles Rams (7-3)
- Buffalo Bills from Chiefs (6-4)
- Jacksonville Jaguars (7-3)
- Carolina Panthers (7-3)
- Minnesota Vikings (8-2)
- Pittsburgh Steelers (8-2)
- New Orleans Saints (8-2)
- New England Patriots (8-2)
- Philadelphia Eagles (9-1)
These Week 12 games have the most bearing on the race for the No. 1 pick.
Browns at Bengals
The Browns are 1-25 in their past 26 games. Astounding, really. During that long, arduous span, Cleveland is 1-10 in one-score games, which includes a 1-7 record in contests decided by three points or less. And, yeah, I guess bad teams tend to lose close games more often than good teams do. But that's a string of incredible misfortune. I'll own up to it -- I was wrong with my Browns over Jaguars prediction in Week 11, yet the game sure as heck didn't look like an 0-9 team against a 6-3 team. Cleveland has plenty of encouraging pieces on its defense, and the offensive skill-position players have started to show up. It's just that pesky quarterback spot that the Browns can't figure out. Going on the road against a Cincinnati team with one of the game's most ferocious pass rushes isn't ideal for DeShone Kizer, that's for sure. I do think this is another game in which Cleveland's defense keeps it respectable.
Seahawks at 49ers
If one of the teams in the race for the No. 1 pick wins in Week 12, I think it'll be the 49ers. Yes. Over the Seahawks, a club that's a shell of its former self with Richard Sherman and Kam Chancellor sidelined. San Francisco just had its super-late bye week and went into the week off with a victory over the Giants that got them into the win column but further away from the No. 1 pick. The strength of this 49ers squad is its defensive line, led by second-year pro DeForest Buckner, one of the most unique defensive front players in the league -- a 6-foot-7, 300-pound refined interior pass-rusher. And as we all know, the Seahawks can't really block anybody. I like Shanahan scheming a way to score points against this version of Seattle's defense.
Giants at Redskins
It wasn't picturesque. That didn't matter. The Giants put on a gutsy performance in the home win over the Chiefs in Week 11. The defense looked like the unit that dominated for long stretches in 2016. And Eli Manning -- I gotta hand it to him -- looked relatively competent with Roger Lewis, Tavarres King and Travis Rudolph taking the place of Odell Beckham Jr., Brandon Marshall and Sterling Shepard as his top trio of pass-catchers. Is New York's defense revitalized enough to limit the underrated Redskins offense? I'm not so sure, particularly with the game in D.C. At this point, losses are probably the best thing for the future of the Giants.
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