The San Francisco 49ers are the only current division leader without a three-game winning streak during the 2012 season.
They can change that in Week 16 with a victory in Seattle, where the 49ers put together a comeback to claim a 19-17 victory last Christmas Eve.
The 49ers, winners against Miami and New England over the past two weeks, are 0-3-1 in games immediately following two-game winning streaks. They lost at Minnesota, at home to the New York Giants and at St. Louis previously. They also tied the Rams at home to end another chance at a three-game streak.
On a side note, no team has won a Super Bowl without posting at least one three-game winning streak during the regular season, according to Keith Hawkins of ESPN Stats & Information. There is nothing specific about three-game streaks that paves the way for Super Bowl success, of course. It's just that teams good enough to win a championship will generally win three in a row at some point.
The 49ers are certainly good enough to win three in a row. The three teams trailing them in the NFC West standings have done it. Arizona has even won four in a row.
With that, let's dive into my predictions for Week 16:
St. Louis Rams at Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 1 p.m. ET: You mean to tell me there's another game besides 49ers-Seahawks this week? Someone should have mentioned something about this earlier in the week. I might have actually done a blog item about it. Look, if the Buccaneers played in the NFC West, I'd be right there picking St. Louis to win. The Rams are 4-0-1 against the division, after all. Perhaps I should pick them anyway. Tampa Bay has lost four in a row. The Bucs' victories have come mostly against horrible teams. I've almost talked myself into it. Almost. Sando's best guess: Bucs 23, Rams 20.
Chicago Bears at Arizona Cardinals, 4:25: Wait, now you're telling me there's a second NFC West game beyond 49ers-Seahawks? Well, then. This changes my TV viewing plans from CenturyLink Field on Sunday. The Bears' Jay Cutler is fully capable of doing his best Matthew Stafford impersonation. However, after watching the Cardinals' quarterbacks all season, I will never again pick Arizona to win a game other than the annual Red-White scrimmage until the dynamics at the position change in a meaningful way. Sando's best guess: Bears 20, Cardinals 13.
San Francisco 49ers at Seattle Seahawks, 8:20: Here we go. The main event. My feeling going into Week 15 was that San Francisco would go 1-1 against the Patriots and Seahawks. I didn't have the guts to pick the 49ers at New England, unfortunately. The slate is clean this week. If the 49ers win prime-time road games on opposite coasts against two of the NFL's best teams in an eight-day period, they're even better than I realized when ranking them No. 1 on my latest power rankings ballot. Should be a great game either way. Sando's best guess: Seahawks 23, 49ers 21.
Noted: I went 1-3 on picks last week, dropping my record to 31-16 for the season when picking games involving NFC West teams. We've also got the "You called it" competition going, plus the Pigskin Pick'em group.