NFC Championship Preview: 5 Reasons Seattle Will Win
Are you ready for some football?! For those fans who appreciate a smash-mouth brand of football that leads to head injuries and broken bones, the NFC Championship game is for you! The NFL fan who doesn’t watch too intently is going to get all moist for the AFC Match-up between Brady and Manning. That’s because they don’t understand that the NFC Championship will be featuring the two best teams in the NFL, two teams that know each other incredibly well and hate one another. Yankees- Red Sox, Duke-UNC, Ohio State-Michigan…this is the modern NFL version of these great rivalries. Head Coaches Pete Carroll of the Seahawks and the 49ers Jim Harbaugh can’t stand each other, which dates back to their Pac-12 Rivalry between USC and Stanford. Both coaches are highly competitive, wear their emotions on their sleeves and are universally disliked around the NFL. However, each coach has done wonders with their current teams, as their two successful programs will butt heads for the third and final time this weekend, with a trip to the Super Bowl on the Line. Even though Harbaugh will have his boys ready for battle, here are five major reasons that Carroll’s Seahawks will prosper in a close one…
5 Reasons that the Seattle Seahawks win the NFC Championship Game
1. Century Link Field was built for this weekend: The Seattle Seahawks have the best home field in the NFL. The 49ers know this fact better than most. In the 49ers last two appearances in Seattle, the Seahawks have outscored the 49ers 76-16. In his early career, Russell Wilson has posted a 15-1 record on his home turf, which is the best in the NFL in that span. The credit to the record noise levels can only be given partially to the fans, and much of it needs to be given to the architects of Century Link Field. Architect James Poulson explains that “When choosing between sound absorbing materials and hard surfaces they went with hard surfaces. Those hard surfaces are positioned perfectly to deflect the crowd noise back onto the field.” I have seen many veteran QBs have a hard time thinking while playing in Seattle due to crowd noise, and the young Colin Kaepernick has already succumbed to the crowd noise twice in his young career.
2. Kaepernick’s history in Seattle: Personally, I love Colin Kaepernick. If this game was being played in San Francisco, or any other city in America, I believe he would have a huge game and probably lead his team to the Super Bowl. However, Kaepernick has shown in his past that he can’t compete at Century Link Field. In his two career starts, Kaepernick has never thrown for more than 200 yards. His 49ers have only posted 16 total points and Kapernick has only 1 TD to 4 INTs. His passing rating of 45.1 is his lowest in any stadium, which can be direct cause of the crowd noise and the Legion of Boom (aka Seattle’s Secondary). To have a chance, Kaepernick is going to have to use his legs and quick passes to Michael Crabtree and Anquin Boldin. However, Seattle’s defense just shut down the New Orleans Saints 2nd ranked passing attack so I doubt that Kaepernick’s 30th ranked attack will fair much better!
3. Marshawn Lynch is much better at this stage than Frank Gore: Thank god I’m not a fan of the Buffalo Bills, because if I was and I watched Marshawn Lynch develop into the most dynamic combination of speed, power and agility this side of Adrian Peterson. Frank Gore has been a stud in his career as well, though his game is much more of a pounder, as he grinds away at defenses with 4 yard rushes until he finds a seam in the second half. Unfortunately for 49er fans, Gore is on the backend of his career, has been battling through injuries all year and the Seahawks defense is young and hungry. Though San Francisco’s defense was second in the league against the run, Lynch has lit them up each of the last time he’s faced them in Seattle. In the last two games at Seattle combined between these two teams, Lynch has rushed for 209 yards to Gore’s meager 44. Also, if you add the second RBs production and the legs of Kaepernick and Russell Wilson, while San Fran has averaged 91 yards in each game, Seattle has exposed the 49ers for 174 per game. The Seahawks are not afraid of running at the 49ers and they will utilize their best weapon all game long.
4. In a Battle of Great Defenses, Seattle is Better! For some reason, many of the NFL “experts” have said that the 49er defense is better than Seattle’s all week. I’m a big proponent of the line that numbers never lie. At lease they aren’t lying when you look at the Seahawks defense. Seattle is ranked # 1 in the league in both points and passing yards against. Those numbers are even scarier when you look at just their home games. Their secondary is the best in the game, with Earl Thomas leading the way for the “Legion of Boom.” Thomas, the best safety in the game, just held Jimmy Graham to one garbage time catch last week and will now look to take out the 49ers biggest weapon, TE Vernon Davis. Richard Sherman is among the best CBs in the game and will be used to shadow Anquan Boldin, which might be the best trash-talking battle of all-time. In their 9 home games this year including the playoffs, the Defensive Ends Michael Bennet, Cliff Avril and Chris Clemens have combined for 10.5 sacks and 5 forced fumbles. The Seahawks feed off the energy of their home crowd, have shown their ability against the 49ers in the past and will do it one more time with the stakes as high as can be.
5. The Eye Test Shows that Russell Wilson is a Winner: Last year’s draft produced unbelievable QB talent. Everyone and their mother knew who Andrew Luck and RG3 were, debating about who would have the better career. Russell Wilson was drafted with the 75th pick in the 3rd round and was expected to back up free agent pick-up Matt Flynn, while Luck and Griffin went 1 & 2 and were given their respective franchises from Day 1, Wilson impressed his teammates with his leadership immediately and earned his job. He beat out Flynn for the starting job and took his over-achieving Seahawks to the playoffs in his first season. In the Wild Card Round against the before-mentioned RG3, Wilson lead his team to a playoff victory on the road in Griffin’s building. Now Wilson has his team in position for a Super Bowl Berth, while both Luck and Griffin are watching from home. Wilson won’t impress you with his huge stats, but from a leadership standpoint, this QB will do all of the little things that is needed to win football games. His 15-1 home record in Seattle speaks for itself, as he routinely picks up 7 or 8 yards on 3rd and 6. Though Kaepernick is the much better athlete of the 2 QBs in this game, I’ll ride with Russell Wilson’s heart and character every day of the week.
SEATTLE WINS THE GAME 24-17