This game isn’t actually life-or-death for either team, but there is a whole lot on the line when the 49ers meet the Seahawks on Sunday night in the last game before Christmas. If the 49ers win the game they will win the NFC West, and they will be one last win or a Green Bay loss away from securing a bye. A loss isn’t fatal for them — they can still secure the division with a win in their finale, though their chances of a bye would be badly hurt. For Seattle they need to win out to win the division and hope San Francisco drops two in a row. More significantly, though, a win for the Seahawks clinches at least a wild card berth. In short, the stakes are high for both teams, and that should give us a very good chance of seeing a highly-motivated effort.
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For the sake of our entertainment, we can hope that this game is a more entertaining one than when the teams met in San Francisco in October. That was a major defensive battle, with San Francisco coming out on top, 13-6. Both quarterbacks struggled, with Russell Wilson having particular issues — 9-of-23 for 122 yards and an interception. Colin Kaepernick only made a brief appearance — one carry for a loss of a yard. Both teams had a better effort on the ground — both had a 100-yard rusher. It was a defensive clinic, though not one that produced gaudy defensive stats — each team had just two sacks, and no fumbles were recovered.
49ers at Seahawks Betting Storylines
This is a quarterback matchup to watch because it is one we are likely to see many times in the coming years. Wilson seems to have learned from the setback against the Niners because he has played well in the seven games since and is showing great maturity and development. He has thrown 13 touchdowns with just two interceptions over that time, and he has piloted a team that has scored 108 points in their last two outings. Kaepernick’s career as a starter is only five games old, but he has looked strong over that time, and he is coming off his best game in many ways against New England. This is the best defense he has yet faced, but his first start was against the Bears and he played well in the face of the challenge in posting a passer rating of 133.1 and averaging 10.6 yards per attempt.
Given the reputations these two teams have — deservedly — for their defensive play, a surprising trend has emerged since they last met. Seattle has gone “over” the total in six of seven games, including the last four in a row. San Francisco has gone over five times in the seven games. Given that the teams are first and second in the league in points allowed, that trend makes two things clear — these offenses are effective, and the public pays more attention to the defensive side of the ball than the offense in both cases.
Perhaps the most interesting aspect to one of the most intriguing emerging rivalries in the league is the relationship — or lack thereof — between the two coaches. Jim Harbaugh is quickly proving to be among the very best of the coaches in the league, and Pete Carroll finally has this team performing likes he wants to, and he also has a quarterback he can build around. The two coaches didn’t like each other in the Pac-10, and being the coach that stands in the way of a division title for the other certainly hasn’t eased the tension. These teams will be extremely prepared, and both coaches will be particularly motivated to win. Harbaugh has won all three meetings between the coaches, and he will want the streak to continue as much as Carroll will want it to end.
49ers at Seahawks NFL Odds and Betting Trends
The game opened with the Seahawks favored by a single point. A solid majority of the action has been on the 49ers, and the line is moving as a result. Seattle is now widely a one-point underdog, and two points can be found. The movement isn’t likely to have stopped, though it would take something dramatic for it to move to or beyond three points. The total opened at 40.5 and has fallen to 39.
San Francisco is 4-0 ATS in their last four road games against teams with winning records. Seattle is 6-0 both straight up and ATS at home this year, so the impact of the 13th man has been very real this year. San Francisco won’t be intimidated, though — they are 5-2 straight up and ATS on the road this year, and they have won in brutal environments like Green Bay and especially New England.
NFL Picks: 49ers at Seahawks Betting Predictions
I have far more respect for the Seahawks then I expected that I would at this point in the season. The Niners are the best team in the NFL right now, though, and by winning in New England last week — and weathering some real adversity to do so — they proved it. The San Francisco defense will make Russell Wilson far less comfortable than he has been recently, and that will make the difference. I wouldn’t want to give up significantly more points than this, but at just one point I am happy to take the better team. I’ll also take the over given how often the teams go over it, and because the public is solidly on the under.
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