The San Francisco 49ers make their third straight appearance in the NFC title game when they take on the No. 1 seed Seattle Seahawks on Sunday afternoon at CenturyLink Field.
Both teams will send out two elite defenses, with Seattle ranked No. 1 overall this season allowing 14.4 points and San Francisco third letting up 17 points per game. The NFC West rivals split their regular season series, with each defending home field.
Hot at the best time possible, the defending NFC champion 49ers have won eight straight and have won four straight road playoff games counting last year’s march to the Super Bowl.
San Francisco and quarterback Colin Kaepernick are hoping to be the fourth team in the last nine seasons to win three straight road games en route to the Super Bowl title; the others being Pittsburgh, the New York Giants, and Green Bay.
The 49ers were sensational last week against Carolina, with Kaepernick going 15-for-28 for 196 yards and one touchdown, and receiver Anquan Boldin making eight receptions for 136 yards in the 23-10 win.
With just 23 regular season starts over the last year and a half, Kaepernick owns a 4-1 playoff record, tossing six touchdowns to three interceptions for a 92.7 passer rating along with 377 rushing yards and four scores.
The Seahawks are eyeing the second Super Bowl appearance in franchise history, and send out the NFL’s best defense headlined by defensive backs Richard Sherman and Earl Thomas, who combined for 24 passes defended and 13 interceptions.
Quarterback Russell Wilson and running back Marshawn Lynch leads Seattle’s offense, with Lynch pounding the frontline for 140 yards and two touchdowns in last week’s 23-15 victory over New Orleans in the Divisional Round.
Wilson went 9-for-18 for 103 passing yards, and gained another 16 yards on the ground, while the Seahawks defense limited New Orleans to three third down conversions on 12 attempts.
Both young starters who took over last year, Kaepernick has a few more games of playoff experience but Wilson nearly put Seattle in the NFC title game last year. Wilson completed 24 of 36 pass attempts for 385 yards and two touchdowns and almost led Seattle over Atlanta in a narrow 30-28 loss in the Divisional Round.
The Seahawks and Wilson will be without receiver Percy Harvin, who suffered a concussion last week against New Orleans and is out Sunday. However, Harvin only appeared in one game in the regular season and Seattle found ways to score. Defensive tackle Jordan Hill (groin) may join Harvin on the sideline as he listed as questionable.
San Francisco could miss cornerback Carlos Rogers (hamstring) for a third straight game. He’s listed as questionable along with second-string full back Will Tukuafu (knee).
Betting Odds: Seattle -3
Over/Under: 39.5 points
Time: Sunday, 6:30 p.m. ET
TV Channel: FOX
Live Stream Info: Fox Sports Go here for xfinity, Midcontinent, AT&T U-verse, Optimum, Sudden Linke, Wow subscribers.
Prediction: Seattle 20, San Francisco 19