2014 NFL Playoffs: 5 Key Matchups In Seattle Seahawks vs. San Francisco 49ers Game
Seattle Seahawks vs San Francisco 49ers: 5 Key Matchups
This year, the NFC will be represented by an NFC West team for the second straight season. It will either be the San Francisco 49ers for back-to-back years, or the top-seeded Seattle Seahawks. The winner will be decided in a rubber match between the two heated rivals.
Seattle won the first meeting back in Week 2 in blowout fashion. In Week 14, the 49ers were able to return the favor with a two-point victory. Over the course of the last two seasons, these teams have split their four regular season meetings with the home team winning every time. The four games have been very similar in that the two San Francisco wins were in close games, whereas Seattle came out on top in runaway fashion.
When these two teams collided, it evolved into one of the best rivalries going right now in the NFL. These teams are mirror images with great coaching, great quarterbacks, and two stellar defenses. They are two teams and fan bases that simply do not like each other and that makes for tough, physical battles out on the field.
San Francisco's last win in Seattle came at the end of the 2011 season. It was a low-scoring, two point win for the 49ers. For as much success as Jim Harbaugh has had in his first three seasons, a major thorn in his side has been the annual trip to the Pacific Northwest. In the three games at Seattle under Harbaugh, the Seahawks have outscored San Fran 88-35.
For as good as San Francisco looks on both sides of the ball at times, they have looked lost and completely out of sync when playing in Seattle. The same can be said for just about any team traveling to Seattle, as the Seahawks have really created an intimidating home-field advantage. The game is sure to be physical, intense and have all the makings of a classic rivalry game, with the extra element being a trip to the Super Bowl on the line.
Will the 49ers be able to change their fortune on the road, or will the Seahawks be flying east for the big game? Here are five key matchups to keep an eye out for.
Nick Schaeflein is a sports writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @ptchr2424 or add him to your network on Google.
5. San Francisco 49ers vs The 12th Man
Including the playoffs, Seattle is 16-1 at home the last two seasons. The crowd, weather conditions, and noise have made it very difficult for opposing teams to succeed there. Seattle earned that home-field advantage this year. As they have looked terrible in their last two visits to the 12th Man, how will the 49ers' offense be able to handle that environment?
4. Experience vs Limiting Mistakes
San Francisco is playing in the NFC Championship Game for the third straight year. If it was not for a fumbled punt, they could be bidding for their third straight Super Bowl appearance. These two teams are evenly matched, and the x-factors will be turnovers and penalties. San Fran has committed 24 penalties in their last three trips to Seattle. While the 49ers can play off of the experience from a year ago, the team that can limit the mistakes will gain the upper hand.
3. Frank Gore vs Marshawn Lynch
Both teams will rely heavily on the running game, especially if the conditions warrant the heavy play-calling. It will be vital for either Frank Gore or Marshawn Lynch to get on track early and often in order for their team to have the best chance at winning. In the first meeting, Lynch won the yardage battle 98-16, and Gore won the second 110-72. Both backs are capable of carrying the load. The question is, which one can carry his team to the Super Bowl?
2. Jim Harbaugh vs Pete Carroll
When it comes to big games, head coaches often take a second fiddle to the players on the field, but not in this matchup. Whether or not the two get along, the subplot is very entertaining between Jim Harbaugh and Pete Carroll. Dating back to their coaching days at the college level, both men love to one-up their opponent in their own unique style. No matter the outcome, the post-game handshake could be very intriguing.
1. Russell Wilson vs Colin Kaepernick
At the end of the day, this game will all come down to the quarterback play. Both guys are great within their own skill set, but both have struggled severely in this matchup. Neither were able to crack 200 yards passing in the two regular season games. Russell Wilson is also really slumping in his last three games overall. Colin Kaepernick has a 2:5 touchdown to interception ratio in his three games against Seattle. While he has excelled in his brief postseason career, he has also looked lost during his two games at Seattle. Against vaunting defenses, the quarterback who is able to make the most amount of smart plays will be heading to New York.