San Francisco 49ers (14-4) vs. Seattle Seahawks (14-3)
Sunday, January 19, 6:30 p.m. ET, FOX
The Manning-Brady rivalry is a friendly one, but the other conference championship won’t be so chummy. The San Francisco 49ers and Seattle Seahawks will meet for the NFC championship in Sunday’s second game, which will be a physical and dramatic contest.
The 49ers and Seahawks both play in the NFC West, and they don’t like each other very much. Their coaches – Jim Harbaugh for the 49ers and Pete Carroll for the Seahawks – developed their own personal rivalry when they were both college coaches, and it has carried over to the NFL. The teams split the season series, and Sunday’s game will be the tiebreaker. San Francisco lost 29-3 on the road in September, but won 19-17 at home in December.
San Francisco-Seattle matchups are always exciting because the teams are so similar. They’re both aggressive and have elite defenses. The Seahawks gave up only 14.4 points per game in the regular season, the top mark in the league, while the 49ers are ranked third in that category, giving up 17 points per game. That means every point on Sunday will be valuable and hard earned. Both teams also have strong running games. Seattle’s Marshawn Lynch might be the toughest player in the league to tackle, and San Francisco’s Frank Gore is always a threat to break a big run.
The quarterbacks in this game are young and athletic, and have bright futures. Russell Wilson has helped make Seattle an elite team in his first two seasons, and Colin Kaepernick will look to lead San Francisco to a second straight Super Bowl.
This will likely be a close, low-scoring game. If the 49ers can withstand Seattle’s physicality and its crowd noise, they will get back to the big game after losing to Baltimore in last year’s Super Bowl. If the Seahawks can use their home-field advantage and beat the 49ers for the second time this season, they’ll be the kings of the NFC.
This game will go down to the wire, and we're probably not going to see very many touchdowns. If a field goal decides it, Seattle is at an advantage with its frenzied home crowd. The Seahawks will win a close game and play New England for a championship.
Pick: Seattle Seahawks
Tell us in the comments who you think will come out on top in the fiercest rivalry in the NFL!
Photos: Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images (Russell Wilson), Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images (Colin Kaepernick)