Jadeveon Clowney understands the stakes associated with Sunday’s game. With a win over the visiting 49ers, Clowney’s Seahawks would clinch the NFC West division title and would host at least one game during the upcoming NFC playoffs. With a loss, Seattle will have to win three playoff games if it hopes at making it back to the Super Bowl for the first time since the 2014 season. For Clowney, who has missed the past two games with the flu as well as his lingering core-muscle injury, the stakes are too big for him to watch from the sideline. 

“There’s no way I’m not playing,” Clowney said Thursday, via John Boyle of the Seahawks’ official website. “I’m playing… I know the team needs me this week, and I need to be out there with them and do what I can do to help this team win against the 49ers this week, no matter what it is. So far, it’s been a great week of preparation getting ready for this team, and I’ve been able to be out there and prepare, get it going. It starts in practice, and if I can take it from there to the field, I’ll be all right.”

Clowney actually sustained his core-muscle injury during Seattle’s Week 10 win over San Francisco, a game that saw Clowney earned NFC Defensive Player of the Week honors after recording a sack and forced fumble as well as returning another fumble for a score in Seattle’s 27-24 overtime victory. The injury has continued to hinder Clowney, however, as the sixth-year veteran has missed three games since a standout effort against San Francisco. 

“Everybody plays through injuries, and I’m just trying to be out there helping them as much as possible,” said Clowney, who added that missing the last two games did help improve his injury. “It’s a grind together. We’re all in this together, and I just want to be out there with my teammates.”

The Seahawks, after a season of close victories (eight of their wins have come in one-possession games) are trying to steady the ship after last Sunday’s 14-point loss to the last place Arizona Cardinals. Injuries may have already started taking its toll on Seattle, with the team losing their top three running backs — Rashaad Penny, Chris Carson, and C.J. Prosise — over the past month. While their roster has certainly taken a hit, Seattle is surely hoping that the return of Clowney, along with the recent acquisition of Seahawks legend Marshawn Lynch, can give the Seahawks a second wind heading into Week 17 and the upcoming postseason. 

“He is highly motivated to do everything he can do in this game, he really is,” Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll recently said of Lynch, a five-time Pro Bowl back who helped power Seattle to back-to-back NFC titles as well as a victory in Super Bowl XLVIII. “He wants to do everything he could possibly do, and he wasn’t done. He got in the situation where he was injured and had rehab and all that, and it just didn’t fit together right away, but he’s not done playing, he wants to go, so this is his entree, and he’s going to go for it. He won’t hold back, he won’t hold back one bit. I’m looking forward to see what happens.”