Sleepless In Seattle – 49ers Attempt to Solve Riddle that is CenturyLink Field
As many expected before the season started, the Seattle Seahawks and the San Francisco 49ers will meet to determine which team will represent the NFC at the Super Bowl in New Jersey February 2.
Both teams have used a similar script to get to this point in the season – young, mobile QBs, solid running games and absolutely elite defenses. All of those skills will be on display Sunday in what promises to be the most bruising of the playoff games thus far.
San Francisco (12-4) at Seattle (13-3)
When: 6:30 PM ET, Sunday, January 19, 2014
Where: CenturyLink Field, Seattle, Washington
49ers vs. Seahawks Betting Lines from Bovada
San Francisco 49ers +3½ -110 +160 Ov 39½ -110
Seattle Seahawks -3½ -110 -180 Un 39½ -110
The San Francisco 49ers have yet to prove that they are able to be even competitive in the Pacific Northwest the last couple of seasons. The Hawks have outmuscled, outplayed and outscored the Niners 71-16 in the last two meetings at CenturyLink – pretty telling if you ask me – and they generated just 207 total yards earlier this season in Seattle in an ugly 29-3 loss.
Colin Kaepernick has turned the ball over five times in two games in Seattle, and the 49ers’ vaunted running game has been all-but-neutralized when they have paid visit to Seattle.
So what could have changed to make Vegas think that this is bound to be a close game? San Francisco enters as the hottest team in the NFL – eight straight wins: They have won two games on the road in these playoffs and they are coming off an impressive outing in which they faced a team similar to Seattle in Carolina and they dominated them in almost every aspect of the game.
But perhaps the biggest difference is Michael Crabtree, who opens up the field for Anquan Boldin and Vernon Davis and acts as Colin Kaepernick’s most trusted target – be it first or third down.
Need proof of the Crabtree effect? Boldin has eclipsed the 90-yard mark in five of his past eight games, including his eight-catch, 136-yard performance against Carolina last week – all have corresponded with the return of Crabtree to the lineup. Boldin is a big-time playoff performer and relishes the big stage – he has 33 receptions, 554 yards in his last six playoff games.
We know the San Francisco defense will show up. This unit has gotten better and better as the season has rolled on, and they gave up just 33 yards rushing to the Panthers last week – impressive and they ranked fourth in that department all season long. The 49ers also ranked third in the NFL in points against – just 17 per game.
The Seahawks almost let one slip away last week against the Saints, but prevailed again against one of the preeminent offensive clubs in the league. Defense was the name of the game as predicted.
The Seahawks were the best defensive club in the NFL all season long, allowing just 14.4 points per game, and they were even better than that on home turf. Keep in mind that Seattle held the Saints scoreless in the first three quarters last week and they held them to a season low seven points in the first matchup. Names like DEs Michael Bennett and Cliff Avril, CB Richard Sherman and FS Earl Thomas strike the fear of God into opposing defenses and bring a ton of confidence and swagger into Sunday’s game.
The only real perceived weakness on the Hawks ahead of Sunday’s showdown is the offense — Russell Wilson in particular. He completed just nine passes for 103 yards last week and has averaged just 116 yards through the air in his last three games overall. Hopes are that Percy Harvin will be healthy enough to suit up – he could be a difference maker and has had an OK history against San Francisco in the past.
And then there is Marshawn Lynch, who has played well in the last three meetings between the teams. We all know that Marshawn loves the playoffs and he seems to save his best, most dramatic moments for his home town crowd.
Dave B’s Free Betting Prediction:
A Few Trends To Consider:
• SF are 8-1 ATS in their last 9 road games.
• Under is 7-3 in SF last 10 games overall.
• SF are 7-3 ATS in their last 10 games in January.
• SEA are 12-4 ATS vs. a team with a winning record.
• Over is 6-2 in SEA last 8 playoff games.
• SEA are 6-2 ATS in their last 8 games overall.
• Home team is 7-3 ATS in their last 10 meetings.
There likely won’t be a whole points scored in this game, so my worries about Seattle’s defense are not quite as large as they could be.
That said, I have yet to see any evidence of Kaepernick being able to handle the Seattle defense, the 12th man and the pressure of guiding an enemy team at CenturyLink.
Seattle has been absolutely money on home turf against San Francisco – I expect more of the same Sunday.
Pick: Seattle Seahawks -3 1/2