The San Francisco 49ers defeated the Carolina Panthers 23-10 on Sunday, advancing to the 2014 NFC Championship Game. The win sets up a rubber match with the Seattle Seahawks at CenturyLink Field. The game is set to kick off at 3:30 p.m. PT. The AFC Championship Game will once again be the early one, featuring the New England Patriots and the winner of the currently playing San Diego Chargers and Denver Broncos.
The line has already opened, and the Seahawks have been installed as 3 to 3 1/2 point favorites across the Internet. This is not all that surprising. The home team gets three points right off the bat, so to some extent, this is basically a toss-up. If this game was on a neutral site, I would fully expect it to be a toss-up. However, it's at CenturyLink Field, where the 49ers have some ghosts to exorcise. The 49ers have lost their last two games in Seattle, both in fairly ugly fashion. The 2012 loss was a straight blowout, while the 2013 loss was ugly, ugly football that saw the Seahawks pull away late and win with a convincing fourth quarter.
I am curious to see how this line moves during the week, if it moves at all. If I was a Seahawks fan, I'd probably want it down at 2 1/2, while 49ers fans will take anything with the Seahawks as a favorite! The Seahawks have won the last two games up north by a combined 71-16 score (and Seattle fans will remind you about it!).
Whatever the outcome of Sunday's game, I suspect things will be much tighter. The 49ers two losses came with certain caveats. The first one saw them without Justin Smith. The second one saw them without Michael Crabtree. Although Crabtree seemed a little banged up against the Panthers, he should be fine for next Sunday. The 49ers are missing a couple players, but they're about as healthy as one can expect heading into the NFC Championship Game. No excuses.