Experts NFL bloggers Rob Davis of Seahawks blog “Field Gulls” and David Fucillo of 49ers blog “Niners Nation” have crossed paths before, and once again strap on the pads to debate just not who the best team in the NFC is but which team will cover the spread when the Seattle Seahawks and San Francisco 49ers clash in the conference championship Sunday night.
WHY THE 49ERS COVER
David Fucillo is an editor for Niners Nation. You can follow them on Facebook and Twitter @NinersNation.
Be like Mike
The 49ers have Michael Crabtree back in the lineup. They were without him in Week 2, and a game that was close heading into the fourth quarter turned into a blowout thanks in part to an ineffective offense. His return gives the 49ers three legitimately strong receiving options, along with Anquan Boldin and Vernon Davis. The Seahawks have a great secondary, but the 49ers boast a bevy of significant options.
The team is as deep as they have been in some time. The receiver corps is at its deepest under Harbaugh, but just as important, the defensive line boasts notable depth. Tony Jerod-Eddie has been able to spell Justin Smith and Ray McDonald, getting them significant rest for the first time in a couple years. This will be an incredibly physical game, so being able to rotate in rested bodies is important.
Some would view the 49ers’ extensive playoff road trip as a reason they will run out of gas. For a glass half full gambler, they are road tested. They had traveled more miles than anybody else heading into the postseason thanks to their London trip. Now, they've gone through the frozen tundra of Lambeau Field and the physical Panthers defense to set up this matchup of the two best teams in the NFC. They are road tested, which benefits them heading into another huge road matchup.
WHY THE SEAHAWKS COVER
Rob Davies writes for Field Gulls. You can follow them on Facebook and Twitter @FieldGulls.
San Francisco is 0-2 ATS in Seattle in the Russell Wilson era, but, more importantly, in the Colin Kaepernick era. The Seahawks haven't just covered the spread in those two games, they've obliterated it. If the 49ers' offense thinks the stadium's been loud before, they probably haven't heard anything yet. This is the final opportunity this season for the 12th Man to raise their collective voice at home, so watch for Kaepernick to look as stunned as he has been in his two previous visits.
Defense can still win championships
If defense doesn't quite win championships in the modern era, having a good one certainly helps. Seattle held a Drew Brees-led offense to zero points through three quarters last week. I expect Kaepernick to struggle in the hostile environment as it is. When up against the best pass defense in the league, not to mention the best secondary in the NFL, he really does have his work cut out for him. Michael Bennett is playing lights-out football up front on passing downs, but it's the pressure created before that by Brandon Mebane that allows the linebackers more creative freedom, setting the tone from the very beginning.
Lynch will relish every second
Seattle may not be in the position to host the NFC Championship this week if not for the outstanding contribution made by Marshawn Lynch last week. He was phenomenal against New Orleans and he seemed to literally carry the team on his own. This never bothers him and he even seems to delight in defenders attempting to bring him down. Beast by nickname, Beast by nature.
Join the debate. Who covers in the NFC Championship: 49ers or Seahawks?