The divisional round of the NFC playoffs featured both the Seattle Seahawks and San Francisco 49ers advancing to the NFC Championship for a chance to play in Super Bowl XLVIII. The Seahawks grinded out a 23-15 win over the New Orleans Saints. The 49ers won for the second straight week on the road as they defeated the Carolina Panthers 23-10.
Here is a glimpse at one aspect from what each NFC West team did in the divisional round of the playoffs:
Beast Mode continued his regular season dominance into the playoffs as he had 28 carries for 140 yards and two rushing touchdowns. Lynch‘s first touchdown came on a 15-yard rush at the beginning of the second quarter to give his team a 13-0 lead. His second touchdown helped seal the win for the Seahawks on a 31-yard rush that gave them a 23-8 lead with just over two minutes left in the game. Seattle took advantage of a middle of a pack rushing defense that allows 111.6 yards per game as they made it a priority to use their ground game rather than pass against Carolina’s second ranked pass defense as they had 35 rushes compared to 18 pass attempts.
The Seahawks’ identity this season has been their rush attack and it will be tested in the NFC Championship game next Sunday in their third meeting of the season against divisional rival 49ers. In their last meeting the 49ers outlasted Seattle as they used a late field goal to win 19-17 at Candlestick Park. But in their first matchup of the season, which was played in Seattle, the Seahawks pounded the 49ers 29-3. With the NFC Championship game being held in Seattle win the Super Bowl on line, the Seahawks will hope to use their home field advantage and rushing attack to lead them to victory.
But with that said, Seattle’s passing game lead by Russell Wilson could play a pivotal role in the game as the second-year quarterback has had another solid season throwing for 3,357 yards with 26 touchdown passes and only nine interceptions. Nonetheless, the Seahawks will be in store for a tough matchup against the 49ers next Sunday as they look to make their second Super Bowl appearance and get one step closer to winning their first championship in franchise history.
Kaepernick once again lead the 49ers to another playoff win as he threw for 196 with one passing touchdown and one rushing touchdown. His first touchdown came on a 1-yard pass to Vernon Davis to put San Francisco up 13-10 with five seconds remaining in the second quarter. The 26-years-old’s second touchdown was on a 4-yard run that gave his team a 20-10 edge midway through the third quarter that proved too much for the Panthers to overcome. The 49ers with Kaepernick as their starting quarterback now have a 4-1 record in the playoffs with their only loss coming in last year’s Super Bowl against the Baltimore Ravens.
With a win over Carolina, San Francisco will be advancing to play in their third straight NFC Championship game and they look to make their second consecutive Super Bowl appearance with Kaepernick as their starting quarterback. But what stands in the way of the 49ers is NFC West divisional foe Seattle Seahawks, who will host next week’s showdown.
In their last two trips to CenturyLink Field, San Francisco has a 0-2 record and have been outscored for a combined by a combined 71-16. As for this season, Kaepernick has had his fair share of struggles in two games against the Seahawks as he has completed 32-of-64 pass attempts for 371 passing yards, with just one touchdown pass and four interceptions. The argument could be made that those losses in Seattle were Kaepernick’s worst games of his young career.
But with that said, the 49ers and Kaepernick have been a different team since they last met as they have won their last 13 out of their last 15 games that includes their current eight-game winning streak. San Francisco is on a roll and they could use their momentum along with their success and experience from last year’s playoff run to their advantage. In last year’s NFC Championship game they were able to defeat the Atlanta Falcons 28-24 by rallying back from a 17-point deficit.
Seattle may be a different team than Atlanta, but regardless of that fact the 49ers will be in another playoff road game where they will need their third ranked rushing attack lead by Frank Gore to be effective against the Seahawks’ seventh ranked rush defense. If San Francisco’s run game can be efficient then it will then open up the passing attack for Kaepernick.
Nonetheless, the NFC Championship game will be a tough and hard fought game with a trip to the Super Bowl on the line between two best teams in the conference that absolutely hate each other.
Photo Credit: Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images
Bob Garcia IV
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