The Seattle Seahawks will host the San Francisco 49ers in the 2014 NFC Championship after both teams proved to the world they deserve a shot at the Lombardi Trophy.
Both sides took different paths to reach this point. After a 13-3 season, the Seahawks got to kick back on a bye before trouncing the New Orleans Saints in the divisional round, 23-15.
The 49ers took a more difficult route, but are by far the NFL's hottest team after a wild-card berth that has seen them extend their winning streak to eight, which dates back to Week 12 of the regular season.
Where: CenturyLink Field, Seattle, Wash.
When: Sunday, Jan. 19, at 6:30 p.m. ET
Live Stream: Fox Sports Go
|San Francisco 49ers||+3 (Even)||+150||Over 40 (-110)|
|Seattle Seahawks||-3 (-120)||-170||Under 40 (-110)|
The Tale of the Tape
These two are more than familiar with each other after splitting the season series. Their bouts are highlighted by elite defenses and physical run games regardless of venue and implications.
One of two budding quarterbacks will get a chance to advance to the Super Bowl and take down either Peyton Manning or Tom Brady. Interestingly enough, it is Russell Wilson and Colin Kaepernick who suffer when these two teams meet:
|Week 2 @ SEA||13/28||127||4.5||0||3|
|Week 14 vs. SEA||15/29||175||6.0||1||1|
|Week 2 vs. SF||8/19||142||7.5||1||1|
|Week 14 @ SF||15/25||199||8.0||1||1|
Wilson himself has been the victim of criticism as of late with the Seahawks finishing the regular season 2-2, including a loss at home—which had not happened since December of 2011. Sports Illustrated's Don Banks was especially harsh in his critique:
Taking nothing away from Seattle's dominating defensive performance for most of the game, but that's not looking like a Super Bowl-ready offense in Seattle about now. ... Seattle had produced just 44 yards of offense in the second half until fewer than four minutes remained, and that lack of execution allowed the Saints to come dangerously close to stealing the game.
But I don't see the Seahawks getting past San Francisco if they don't threaten more than they did on Saturday. Don't think Russell Wilson completing just nine passes for a career-worst 103 yards, like he did against New Orleans, will cut it next Sunday.
It will be difficult for Wilson to break this trend, as he will be without star receiver Percy Harvin yet again, per ESPN's Adam Schefter:
No surprise, but Seahawks WR Percy Harvin officially ruled out of Sunday's NFC Championship Game.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) January 17, 2014
This means the Seahawks will rely on running back Marshawn Lynch, which is not necessarily a bad thing. The last time the Seahawks hosted the 49ers (way back in Week 2), Lynch ran for 98 yards and two touchdowns in a 29-3 victory.
Seahawks coach Pete Carroll is ready to lean on Lynch once more, as he told Clare Farnsworth of the team's website: "He still looks fast and quick and ready to go again. Marshawn battles every week and when you give him chances, he makes plays. He just continues to crank it out for us."
But San Francisco is more than ready as well and hopes to put the past behind it—the 49ers have lost by a combined score of 71-16 in their last two trips to CenturyLink Field. Tight end Vernon Davis understands what is in store for his team, per Jeff Darlington, via NFL.com:
A battle. A brutal battle. It will be sparks, flames, you name it. It's going to be tough, and we know that. We have to go back to Santa Clara, look at film and correct some of the things that we need to correct from our last match.
Indeed. The continued shrinking of the betting lines should tell fans that this is going to be a violent conflict where passing yards are a luxury and the grittiest team will emerge the winner.
In other words, it is a typical showdown between the Seahawks and 49ers. But this time, a trip to the Super Bowl is on the line.