Game: San Francisco 49ers (14-4) vs. Seattle Seahawks (14-3)
Date: Sunday, Jan. 19, 2014
Time: 6:30 p.m. ET
Location: CenturyLink Field in Seattle, Washington
Broadcast: FOX (Joe Buck, Troy Aikman, Pam Oliver)
Odds: Seattle favored by 3.5 points; over/under is 39
Online stream: FoxSports.com, NFL.com
Injury Reports (Updated throughout the afternoon up until kickoff):
Questionable: CB Carlos Rogers (wrist, will play), RB Will Tukuafu (knee)
Probable: LB Navorro Bowman (wrist), LB Ahmad Brooks (illness), WR Michael Crabtree (wrist), DE Demarcus Dobbs (knee, shoulder), C Jonathan Goodwin (foot), RB Frank Gore (knee), LB Dan Skuta (foot), DT Justin Smith (shoulder)
Out: WR Percy Harvin (concussion)
Questionable: DT Jordan Hill (groin)
Probable: RB Marshawn Lynch (not injury related), LB K.J. Wright (foot)
Preview: After splitting their first two meetings in the regular season -- the Seahawks blasted the 49ers at home in Week 2 by a score of 29-3 then lost in San Francisco in Week 14, 17-19 -- the two best teams in the NFC will go at it one more time. The stakes, of course, are much higher this time around with a birth in Super Bowl 48 on the line.
The Seahawks have the edge.
Sure, the 49ers are on a hotter streak having won their last eight games in a row, including two tough road playoff victories over the Green Bay Packers and Carolina Panthers, respectively. But Seattle is at home, where they have beaten the Niners eight of the last 11 times they've played each other at "The Clink," according to our friends at Field Gulls.
That includes the aforementioned 29-3 ass whooping Russell Wilson and company administered early this season. However, points were at a premium in that game and it was far closer than the final score indicates. The 49ers were also missing star wide receiver Michael Crabtree, who was still recovering from his offseason Achilles injury.
He was back for the rematch at Candlestick in December and his team was victorious as he opened up the offense. His numbers -- 4 receptions for 40 yards -- were pedestrian but he paved the way for Anquan Boldin -- 6 receptions for 93 yards -- to have far more success on the other side of the field.
The key to the game, however, might be Frank Gore, as our friends at Niners Nation have pointed out.
Either way, expect a hard fought battle in an intense rivalry between two of the best defenses in the NFL.
Prediction from The General: I'll be rooting for the 49ers because I have a family member who is a fan of the team, but reality is a stiff kick to the groin. The Seahawks are damn near unstoppable at home and while it's a plus that Wilson isn't playing at a lights out level, I'm not entirely sure Colin Kaepernick can be counted on to come through in a situation like this.
Gore might be the key to the offense but he's a grinder who pops big runs after wearing down the defense. This Seattle squad doesn't seem to get tired.
I won't say why that may be the case.
A game like this feels like it will come down to that one big mistake. If I have to bet on who is going to make that mistake, I'm thinking it will be someone playing for the team in white and gold.
Pick: Seahawks 23, 49ers, 17
Prediction from Tommy Gun:
Seahawks have the best home field advantage ... in ANY sport! The stadium is SEISMIC! The fans are GREAT!
Too bad, so sad.
Despite the "12th Man," which is clearly a ridiculous, incalculable edge, it's my sole belief that the 49ers are a significantly better team. In particular, the defense is savage -- it's hard to pinpoint a weakness because there isn't (and won't be) one unless there is a systematic breakdown.
And Coach Harbaugh won't let that happen.
Yes, Seattle has a great defense -- one that might even play beyond its natural talent with the proud hometown crowd behind it -- but if that's the case, then I defer to Kaepernick. Wilson has hit a wall lately, and unless he can lead his team to an early lead, which his defense can bend, but not break to preserve, it seems like his only path to victory.
Kaepernick is certainly rough around the edges, but he has more "big game" experience, better talent around him and is, well, a more physically gifted quarterback. I like Seattle's "D" and I like Wilson, but I like 49ers "D" and Kaepernick just a little bit more.
"12th Man" be DAMNED.
Pick: 49ers 24, Seahawks 23
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