Note: If you're looking for the 2014 NFC Championship game preview between these teams, please go here: San Francisco 49ers vs. Seattle Seahawks Pick.
San Francisco 49ers (10-3-1 SU, 9-5 ATS) vs. Seattle Seahawks (9-5 SU, 10-4 ATS)
NFL Week 16
Date/Time: Sunday, December 23rd, 2012, 8:20 p.m. EST
Where: CenturyLink Field, Seattle, Wash.
by Badger, Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: SF pk/Sea. pk
Over/Under Total: 39
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The NFC West is suddenly up for grabs, but it will likely all be settled late on Sunday night when the San Francisco 49ers travel to CenturyLink Field to play the Seattle Seahawks for all the marbles in a now-primetime defensive clash on NBC.
Not too many people expected the Seahawks to be in a position to challenge the 49ers for the NFC West title, not even the folks at NBC, but they know a ratings goldmine when they see it which is why they flexed the game into primetime the night before Christmas Eve.
Seattle has exploded in the past two weeks with a, 58-0, win over Arizona in week 14, followed by an equally impressive, 50-17, victory over Buffalo in the Rogers Center in Toronto last Sunday. Rookie quarterback Russell Wilson ran for three touchdowns and the Seahawks as a team ran for 270 yards on Buffalo to set up a showdown with the Niners.
But San Francisco isn't going to hand the Seahawks the title just yet.
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The 49ers are coming off an impressive victory of their own last weekend, when they traveled to Foxborough and handed Tom Brady and the New England Patriots a, 41-34, defeat. At one point the Niners held a 31-3 lead, only to watch Brady and the Pats come roaring back to tie it midway through the final quarter. But like championship team always do, San Francisco regained their composure and pulled away to win and set up another huge game on the road in Seattle this Sunday night.
With the NFL's top two scoring defenses going head-to-head many are expecting a defensive stalemate, but with playoff scenarios galore waiting on the result this Sunday should give NBC real "must-see TV" and their best ratings of the season (if you can sit through the 200 commercials they're going to pimp your way!).
Sunday Night's telecast will also be a huge one for the folks in Las Vegas, with some of the largest handle the biz has seen in a long time expected to be slapped down on two of the most highly wagered-on teams in the NFL this season.
With that in mind, oddsmakers opened the game with Seattle as modest 1-point favorites at home with the famous 12th-man home-field crowd on their side. But when the Niners ended Sunday night with their big win over New England, the early money came in on San Francisco and has since pushed the number to a pick 'em at most sportsbooks. The flood of early money on San Francisco was so big that some sportsbooks were forced to flip the number and make the 49ers a 1-point favorite in order to stop the flow.
The over/under total opened at 40.5 and has been dropping like a rock, down to 39 at most sportsbooks and even as low as 38.5 at a few properties in Vegas as everyone and their brother looks at the No. 1 defense versus the No. 2 defense matchup and has pounded the under early and often.
While RG3 and Andrew Luck have stolen the headlines this season, and justifiably so, Wilson has given the Seahawks huge bang for their buck when they took him with the 75th pick in the draft (third round). Wilson has shown maturity beyond his years, and unlike Luck (18 INT) he has consistently made solid decisions and ranks ninth in QB rating with a 95.5, ahead of QB's named Brees, Romo, Rivers and Manning (Eli).
When combined with Marshawn Lynch and the Seahawks pounding run game (161 ypg -3rd), and the stingy Hawks defense, Wilson has proven to be a perfect fit and has put them in the driver's seat at an NFC wild card spot with an outside shot at the Niners NFC West title.
San Francisco also has a dynamic young QB of their own with Colin Kaepernick now calling the shots, and since he took over the starting role five games ago he's added a new dimension to the 49ers offense. With Kaepernick running the "pistol" option running game he mastered at Nevada, the Niners are even more dangerous running the ball (163 ypg -2nd) behind that massive offensive line. It's also helped to ease the burden on Frank Gore to carry the load.
The only thing that might take some of the shine off this game is the fact that the Seahawks might lose starting cornerback Richard Sherman to suspension before kickoff. Sherman is set to have his appeal of his four-game suspension for taking Adderall on Friday, and considering they are already missing their other corner Brandon Browner for the same offense it could have a huge impact on Sunday Night's game.
The Niners also may have to play without defensive end Justin Smith, who left the Patriots game with an arm injury and underwent an MRI on Monday. He's listed as questionable, and you know they'd probably have to cut it off in order to keep him off the field on Sunday.
San Francisco won this season's earlier matchup back in October in week seven action, 13-6, in Candlestick Park. Wilson struggled in the game (9-for-23, 122 yards, INT), but neither offense really did much in the game (combined 564 yards). The Niners scored 10 unanswered points in the second half to pull away, and with the rookie Wilson still getting his feet wet the Seahawks had no way of getting back into it.
The win was the fourth in a row for San Francisco, who won last year's game at CenturyLink,19-17. But for the record, Seattle is 3-2 SU at home in the series (since 2007), so the 12th man crowd has helped the Seahawks neutralize the 49ers in the past.
The under has also proven to be a solid betting trend wager at CenturyLink over the years, going 4-1-1 in the last six games played in Seattle.
Badger's Pick to Cover the Point Spread: What a great matchup! The difference here SF coming off a short week and the fact that Colin Kaepernick is young and young QB's make mistakes. One mistake in this game is enough to be the difference. Yes, Russell Wilson is a rookie, but his leash is shorter and the Seahawks run more of a ball control offense, limiting his potential mistakes. I like the Seahawks and their crazy home field crowd to walk away a winner!
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