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NFL Playoffs: our Racing Post expert previews the 49ers at Seattle

The Racing Post experts know a thing or two about a thing or two. They've let us have a peek at their enormous knowledge. Phil Agius looks ahead to what should be a couple of fascinating Conference deciders - tonight's second game see the 49ers travel to Seattle

by Paddy Power | January 19, 2014

San Francisco 49ers at Seattle Seahawks

NFC CHAMPIONSHIP – Sunday 11.30pm, Sky Sports 1
BETTING: MOBILE | DESKTOP

SAN FRANCISCO have won in front of hostile crowds three weeks running and beat a team with a fierce defence last week, but they need to do all that and more to return to the Super Bowl.

The 49ers went down by three points to Baltimore in the big game last year, but they won’t be looking any further than arch NFC West rivals Seattle and their ridiculously loud crowd tonight.

After all, it was the Seahawks’ superior record that left San Francisco as lowly fifth seeds despite a 12-4 campaign, but both go into this game with 14 wins this season, one of them against each other.

The big decision for punters is whether to trust recent or course-and-distance form, with Seattle having hammered tonight’s rivals 29-3 in Week Two in a bizarre game held up for an hour by a thunderstorm. Lightning didn’t strike twice, though, as the 49ers won the return match 19-17 at Candlestick Park last month.

With San Francisco looking better than they have all year after eight successive wins, five of them on the road, they can be expected to give a much stronger effort than they managed on their first trip to the Pacific North-West and a handicap start of more than a field goal looks worth taking.

Seattle won well enough against New Orleans last week, although they let down most of their handicap backers, and the victory over the Saints was achieved largely thanks to their defence and RB Marshawn Lynch. Quarterback Russell Wilson completed only nine of 18 passes last week and has not recorded more than 206 passing yards in his last five games.

Both defences have the pass-rushers required to keep the opposing quarterbacks on their toes and backing 49ers QB Colin Kaepernick to rush seven times or more (eight and seven rushes in the last two weeks, nine in each game against Seattle) and Wilson to take off for 29 yards or more appeal.

Recommendations
San Francisco +3.5 – 2pts @ 10-11
Colin Kaepernick over 6.5 rushing attempts – 1pt @ 10-11
Russell Wilson over 28.5 rushing yards – 1pt @ 10-11

BETTING: MOBILE | DESKTOP

NFC LOWDOWN

Venue: CenturyLink Field, Seattle, Washington
Surface: Artificial turf
Weather: Foggy with no wind Slight chance of rain, 6C
Handicaps: San Francisco +3.5; Seattle -3.5
Points line: 38.5

Team news
San Francisco
CB Carlos Rogers (hamstring) is hoping to return after missing the last two games.Full back Will Tukuafu could also feature after injuring his knee in Carolina. Centre Jonathan Goodwin (foot) and linebacker Ahmad Brooks (illness) should play.

Seattle
Wide receiver Percy Harvin (concussion) has been ruled out. Linebacker KJ Wright (foot) and defensive tackle Jordan Hill (groin) are likely to play.

Head-to-heads
Week Two – San Francisco 3 Seattle 29
Week 14 – Seattle 17 San Francisco 19

Formguide
SAN FRANCISCO (most recent first)
(a) 23-10 Carolina
(a) 23-20 Green Bay
(a) 23-20 Arizona
(h) 34-24 Atlanta
(a) 33-14 Tampa Bay
(h) 19-17 Seattle

SEATTLE (most recent first)
(h) 23-15 New Orleans
(h) 27-9 St Louis
(h) 10-17 Arizona
(a) 23-0 NY Giants
(a) 17-19 San Francisco
(h) 34-7 N Orleans

KEY STATS

  • Seattle have won their last two home games against San Francisco by a combined 71-16
  • Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson has a 12-5 record against the handicap in home games, but 49ers QB Colin Kaepernick is 10-3-1 against the line on the road

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