49ers @ Seahawks: Seattle to edge thriller to claim NFC title

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San Francisco will contend for the NFC Championship for a 15th time when they face Seattle but despite reaching the conference finale for only the second time it is the Seahawks who will go on to play for the Super Bowl.

The 49ers may be the most experienced side in NFC history when it comes to playing in the championship game but their finals record of 6-8 shows that things do not always go their way.

Jim Harbaugh’s men will need little help in getting themselves hyped for this match, with the chance to avenge last year’s three-point Super Bowl loss to the Ravens at stake, but with the Seahawks 13/8 favourites to lift the Lombardi Trophy outright, it is the hosts who must be backed here.

Before the Lombardi can be claimed the George Halas Trophy must be decided and the game promises to be a spectacle – for neutral fans at least – as the two best sides in the NFC face off.

Seattle ran out 29-3 winners in the first of this season’s meetings with the 49ers back in week 2 and while Carroll will no doubt remind his players of this before the match the more recent 19-17 victory for San Francisco is a better reflection of current form.

With both of those games yielding less than the 39.5 total points line on offer for this match, many could be tempted by the 10/11 available for the match to finish under that total.

The Seahawks are 10-2 over their last 12 but more importantly are 16-1 from their last 17 at home and with this game taking place at CenturyLink Field it’s easy to see why the Emerald State side are priced as the 1/2 favourites to win the match.

San Francisco are 5-0 from their last five and have also gone five games without defeat on the road but with just one win in five visits to Seattle the 49ers carry underdog billing here at 8/5.

Niners quarterback Colin Kaepernick is in fine form for the postseason – throwing for an average of 212 yards per game, while his Seahawks counterpart – Russell Wilson – threw for just 103 in the win over New Orleans.

However, while the QBs will enjoy centre stage it is arguably the running back contest that will decide this tie.

Frank Gore and Marshawn Lynch have both performed extremely well this season but it is the Hawks man who edges the 49ers back in both regular and postseason play.

Gore boasts impressive stats of 1,128 yards at 70.5 per game and nine touchdowns for the regular season and upped that average to 75 in his two playoff games this far.

However, it is Lynch who looks set to be the victor in this personal battle, with his 78.6 average and 12 regular season touchdowns proving the launch pad for an incredible playoff performance, which saw him collect 140 yards and 2 TDs in the 23-15 victory over the Saints.

All odds and markets accurate as of publication’s time and date

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James Curtis

After studying for a degree in journalism and gaining his NCTJ, James contributed to a wide range of papers, online publications and broadcasters including the South London Press, Press Association and Sky Sports News before joining the Ladbrokes News team.