The 2014 NFC Championship Game will come down to two NFC West rivals. The Seattle Seahawks led the conference with the best record, while the San Francisco 49ers trailed them by just one game. After splitting head-to-head meetings in the regular season, Sunday will serve as a rubber match as the teams look to reach the Super Bowl.
Last week, it looked like the Seahawks offense would be getting a big boost with the return of Percy Harvin. That, however, was very short-lived. The wide receiver caught three passes for 21 yards in the divisional round playoff game. He eventually left with a concussion, and the injury will keep him out of Sunday’s contest. He battled injuries in the regular season, only playing in one game.
Seattle was fine without Harvin this season. He caught just one ball, and they still managed to win 13 games. The team’s offense, though, hasn’t been great of late. They haven’t scored more than 27 points in any of their last five games. During that time, Russell Wilson has surpassed the 200-yard mark just once, and he won’t have an easy time going against a tough San Francisco defense. The Seahawks will rely on their running game, which ranks fourth, as well as the league’s No.1 defense.
Carlos Rogers hasn’t played since Week 17, but he seems pretty certain that he’ll be good to go on Sunday. The cornerback missed the 49ers’ first two playoff games after being an integral part of the defense all season long. The team hasn’t suffered without Rogers, holding the Green Bay Packers and Carolina Panthers to 30 total points in their own buildings. San Francisco’s defense ranked No.3 in the regular season, but the unit might be playing better than anyone now. They’ve allowed more than 20 points just once since Week 3.
On offense, San Francisco’s play has been improved. Colin Kaepernick struggled in the early part of the season, but he’s played very well in recent games. In five career postseason contests, the quarterback has a 93.8 passer rating. He struggled against Seattle this year, completing less than 50 percent of his passes and averaging 151 yards in two games.
Both the Seahawks and 49ers picked up wins against each other this season. In the third game, Seattle has been made slight favorites. They are giving San Francisco 3.5 points at most Las Vegas casinos. On a neutral field, the Seahawks might be underdogs, considering they might have the best home field advantage in all of football.
The over/under is very low, set at 39.5. The teams have two of the best defensive units in the NFL and allowed just over a combined average of 31 points per game in the regular season.
In the regular season, no team had a better record against the spread than the Seahawks. They failed to cover the betting line in just five of 16 tries. They did not cover the spread in their playoff win against the New Orleans Saints.
The 49ers were just behind the Seahawks, going 10-5-1 against the spread. Including the postseason, they’ve been terrific against the spread on the road, going 8-1-1. The only time they failed to cover was when they visited Seahawks in Week Two.
Seattle and San Francisco are very evenly matched teams. The 49ers might be the hottest team in the playoffs, and they’ve shown that they can beat good teams on the road. The Seahawks, though, are close to unbeatable at home, and gave the 49ers their worst loss of the season at CenturyLink Field. It won’t be easy, but Seattle should advance to their first Super Bowl in almost a decade.