coleryan Posts:21705 Followers:24
On 01/13/2014 06:16 AM in NFL

San Francisco 49ers at Seattle Seahawks

The NFC Championship will feature two divisional rivals who are very familiar with one another. The San Francisco 49ers and the Seattle Seahawks are the two remaining teams in the NFC and they will face off in the late game on Sunday with the winner making a trip to the Super Bowl. The San Francisco 49ers are hoping to go to the big game in back to back seasons, but it won’t be easy as the Seahawks are one of the toughest teams in the league to beat at home. Read More Here

Check back all week as this thread will be updated on a regular basis with information on this game and a free pick by gameday!

coleryan Posts:21705 Followers:24
01/14/2014 05:11 PM

49ers at Seahawks minus-3.5: After the 49ers took a 23-10 lead over the Panthers in the fourth quarter Sunday, the offshore book BetOnline was the first to pop up on the Don Best screen, with the Seahawks minus-3 and vig of minus-125. It got bet up to 3.5, and that's where CRIS and Pinnacle opened, although that's when 49ers money showed immediately as they got bet back down to 3.

The LVH was the first in Vegas to put up a line, opting for Seahawks minus-3.5, and it got bet up to 4 before a fast market correction back to 3.5. The rest of Sunday night, the line mostly wavered between 3 and 3.5, with heavier juice on the preferred sides at those numbers. It looks as if that might be the case all week. As for the over/under, the early offshore went with 41 and the LVH went with 41.5, but there has been a steady stream of under money that has driven it down to a consensus 39.5 as of early Monday morning.

coleryan Posts:21705 Followers:24
01/15/2014 06:18 AM

It’s no secret that the Seattle Seahawks' offense has sputtered at times down the stretch. Can the Seahawks do enough now to win against the rugged San Francisco 49ers defense with a Super Bowl trip on the line?

The formula for success hasn’t changed all season. The Seahawks have played stone-cold defense, steamrolled opponents on the ground with powerful running back Marshawn Lynch and done just enough through the air to win 14 times in 17 outings.

That last part, the just enough passing, has been a little off down the stretch. Seattle has averaged only 145 yards passing in its last five games. That would have ranked last in the NFL in the regular season.

Quarterback Russell Wilson is coming off a career-worst 103 yards passing. He passed for fewer than 110 yards in two of the last three games.

The Seahawks scored 100 points total in the last five games. A 20-point average would rank 25th in the regular season. But the Seahawks also didn’t have a turnover in the past two games.

“If we keep taking care of the football, it will give us our chance to get the wins,” Seattle coach Pete Carroll said. “We would like to make it easier and see the yards there, but as long as we’re playing within the formula, then we’re OK.”

Carroll thinks people are making too much out of the team’s lack of explosiveness on offense. And he has no problems with Wilson’s performance.

“He’s doing what we need to do in these games,” Carroll said. “We can always do better, but he’s very concerned about leading us in the way that keeps our philosophy intact, which is take care of the football. He’s done a great job of that, and he’s done that all year long.”

In four career games against the 49ers, Wilson has completed 53 percent of his passes (47 of 88) with six touchdowns and four interceptions while averaging 158.5 passing yards per game.

Wilson, however, has played well in the two home games against San Francisco, completing 23 of 40 throws for five TDs and only two interceptions. The Seahawks outscored the 49ers 71-16 in those two games.

But the fact remains that the Seahawks' offense hasn’t produced an efficient passing game over the past month.

“We’re trying to make things happen,” Carroll said. “But I’ve attributed some of that to the teams we’ve played that were really loaded up on the other side of the ball.”

Seattle faced four of the top 10 defenses in yards allowed over its past five games -- San Francisco, the New York Giants, Arizona and New Orleans.

“We’ve played some really good defenses, and they’ve made some big plays,” Wilson said. “But there are tons of throws I can make and I know I will make. I have no worries about that.”

There was also the factor of gale-force winds in the Saints game that changed how the Seahawks approached play calling.

“We didn’t throw as well as we like to, but there were reasons why,” Carroll said on his 710 ESPN Seattle radio show. “We did have to play differently with the weather and the wind. Throwing and catching the ball was an issue.

“We played it the way we imagined playing it in those conditions, with the focus going to the running game. It was what we planned to do, but there always are things you’d like to do better.”

Wilson threw only 18 passes against New Orleans, completing nine.

“When the wind is severe, you have to be smart," Wilson said. “There were circumstances where I have to be conservative throwing the football, making sure I’m not taking shots down the field.”

Former Seattle coach Mike Holmgren, now a radio analyst at Seattle’s KJR (950 AM) radio, believes the Seahawks defense this season is so good that it can cause the offense to play too conservatively.

“There’s a danger,” Holmgren said. “It can affect your offense. You don’t have to be reckless. You know you can play conservative and you’ll be fine.”

Wilson believes there's a difference between being cautious and playing scared.

“I’ve never played scared," he said. “I never have, and I never will. I always try to make the smart decisions and keep the play alive. But I’ve learned over the years that there are certain situations in a game where you can lose by not playing it safe.”

Seattle turned to its workhorse in Lynch, who rushed for 140 yards on 28 carries while scoring two touchdowns against New Orleans.

“We needed to run it, and we did," Carroll said. “Marshawn gave us the game we needed. He was cranked up out there. He was in command and wanted the ball again and again.”

Lynch also was the mainstay of the Seahawks' offense in both games against the 49ers this year, rushing for a combined 170 yards on 48 carries.

“We’re winning a lot of football games, and that’s the most important thing," Wilson said. “I can always do better. There’s a lot of room for improvement, but I’m expecting to play a great game Sunday."

If receiver Percy Harvin returns from his concussion, he can make a difference as well. He had three receptions in the first half and was targeted five times before leaving the game.

“We’re always looking for more, and [Wilson] is too,” Carroll said. “But as long as our team is playing well, playing within the formula, playing good defense, running the football and taking care of the ball, we’re going to have a really good chance to win. It’s not about the stats.”

Wilson doesn’t think passing yards should define the success of Seattle's offense.

“There are a lot of factors that go into winning a football game,” he said. “We just need to execute one play at a time. That’s what it really comes down to.”

finance Posts:9366 Followers:232
01/15/2014 09:37 AM

Sure seems to me like this should be a field goal game either way, so why not take the +3.5? 49ers playing their best ball of the season at the right time and have the experience....

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  • 01/16/2014 04:14 PM

    It always seems like that hot team is the one to watch this time of year...

coleryan Posts:21705 Followers:24
01/16/2014 04:15 PM

The ability to adapt effectively to a variety of matchup strengths is always a plus in the NFL playoffs, but given the eclectic state of the current crop of Super Bowl contenders, that trait may be more useful than ever. Each of the four remaining teams has a different combination of powerful traits that make them difficult to game plan for, and the eventual Super Bowl winner is going to have to find a way to effectively deal with this.

Jim Harbaugh's San Francisco 49ers might not look at first glance like the leading remaining team in the area of adaptability, but the metrics and game-tape analysis indicate this group is by far the best equipped to successfully adjust its approach to whatever type of personnel challenge comes its way. This is the type of edge that makes the 49ers the favorites to win Super Bowl XLVIII.

This advantage shows up in San Francisco's superb balance across the statistical spectrum and when looking at each potential matchup battle they may have to deal with on their potential Super Bowl path.

Stopping the power rushing game is a key to beating either the Seattle Seahawks or the New England Patriots, and the 49ers are well-equipped in this area. From Week 7 through the end of the regular season, San Francisco allowed an opponent to gain 100 or more yards on the ground only three times. According to ESPN Stats & Information, in that same time frame only two teams (Arizona and Detroit) allowed fewer rush yards per game than the 49ers (85.8).

One key here is San Francisco has allowed 6.1 good blocking yards per attempt (GBYPA), a metric that gauges how productive a ball carrier is when given good blocking (which is very roughly defined as when the offense doesn't allow the defense to disrupt a rush attempt). Being at or near the 6-yard mark is considered elite in this category and indicates the Niners are excellent at preventing impactful ground gains even when the other team blocks well.

The 49ers may not have a Legion of Boom-caliber secondary, but if the opposing team calls for them to have to stop an aerial assault (something that would be key if they were to face the Denver Broncos in the Super Bowl), they are more than capable of doing so.

San Francisco's defense racked up top-eight totals in Total QBR (39.9, ranked sixth), passing yards per game (221, seventh) and net yards per attempt (6.04). Maybe more important is the fact that the 49ers' pass rush showed tremendous improvement late in the season. From Weeks 12-17, the 49ers tallied a 7.0 percent sack rate on opposing quarterback dropbacks, ranking them eighth in the league in that time frame. Add in four sacks against the Green Bay Packers in the NFC wild-card game and five sacks against the Carolina Panthers in the NFC divisional round, and it shows the Niners can get after an opposing passer.

The 49ers' pass defense also could get a personnel upgrade in the form of cornerback Carlos Rogers. Rogers missed both of San Francisco's playoff games because of a hamstring injury, but there are signs that he could return to the lineup for the NFC Championship Game.

If the game plan requires consistent quarterback play (something that will be essential against any of the three other remaining playoff clubs), Colin Kaepernick has shown he is quite capable of delivering this type of performance. He ranked seventh in Total QBR (68.6) over the course of the season and did this despite having a slow start to the season (14.0 and 11.8 Total QBR marks, respectively, in Weeks 2 and 3) and not having No. 1 wideout Michael Crabtree available until Week 13. Over the last five weeks of the season, when Crabtree was part of his receiving corps, Kaepernick's Total QBR shot up to 73.3. His two playoff games were of the same caliber (88.8 versus Green Bay, 71.9 versus Carolina) and thus indicate his performance trend is still pointing skyward.

Crabtree's addition also makes the 49ers' passing game a matchup nightmare for opposing teams, as San Francisco can now boast three pass-catchers with a 9-plus mark in yards per attempt: Anquan Boldin (9.2 YPA on 128 targets), Vernon Davis (10.4 on 82 targets) and Crabtree (9.2 on 31 targets). A YPA of 9 or higher is the general benchmark for ranking as a No. 1 wideout or tight end and thus indicates the 49ers have arguably the strongest 1-2-3 pass-catching combination in the NFL.

The ability to get the power-rushing game going could be key in any playoff matchup, as this has been a huge weakness for New England's defense (2,145 rushing yards allowed this year, ranked 30th), something of a flaw for Denver (ranked 19th in rushing yards allowed from Weeks 7-17) and an Achilles' heel for Seattle. This certainly is a plus for San Francisco, as the ground game posted 160 or more yards in four of its past five regular-season contests and has racked up 293 yards in two playoff games.

Even if all of those advantages don't turn out to be enough, the 49ers also can rely on their special-teams edge. According to ESPN Stats & Information, San Francisco had a 31.62 mark in special teams expected points added (STEPA), which measures special-teams play according to a number of factors. This total was the fifth highest in the league and placed the 49ers higher than the Seahawks (15.5, ranked ninth) and Broncos (minus-9.58, ranked 23rd). The Patriots are the only remaining playoff club that looks to be able to go toe-to-toe with the 49ers in this area (38.59, ranked second).

Having a matchup advantage doesn't mean a team will automatically win the game, but it does mean they are the percentage play to do so. And that is why the San Francisco 49ers should be considered the favorites to come away victorious in Super Bowl XLVIII.

coleryan Posts:21705 Followers:24
01/17/2014 06:40 PM

Seattle Seahawks wide receiver Percy Harvin will not play in Sunday's NFC Championship Game against the San Francisco 49ers because of lingering effects from a concussion he suffered in the playoff game against New Orleans last weekend.

"He will not make it back for this game," Seattle coach Pete Carroll said Friday. "He did not make it through the concussion protocol. I'm super disappointed for Percy. I know how much he wants to play."

Harvin suffered a concussion late in the first half of last Saturday's win against the Saints. He was playing for the first time since his season debut on Nov. 17 against his former Minnesota Vikings teammates.

The receiver, who signed a six-year, $67 million contract with the Seahawks last March, had major hip surgery on Aug. 1 to repair a torn labrum. He missed the first 10 games of the season before returning for 19 plays in the Minnesota game.

Harvin had one catch and a 58-yard kickoff return in the game, but aggravated his surgically repaired hip and did not practice again until the week before the Saints playoff game.

Harvin caught three passes and had one 9-yard run on an end around in the first half against the Saints, but took two big hits and was checked twice for a concussion. Saints safety Rafael Bush was fined $21,000 on Friday for the first hit, which came on Seattle's opening possession.

Harvin did not return in the second half after suffering the concussion while falling backward in the end zone, hitting his head on the turf, near the end of the second quarter.

The Seahawks were hopeful that the extra day to recover, since the Saints playoff game was Saturday, would give Harvin a better chance to return and get through the concussion protocol. Harvin was examined by doctors on Wednesday and was not cleared to return to practice. Carroll said Harvin would be back at practice next week, if the Seahawks win Sunday, in preparation for playing in the Super Bowl.