NFL Team Report - Seattle Seahawks - INSIDE SLANT
The Seattle Seahawks clinched a playoff spot with Monday's win over the New Orleans Saints.
Seattle is 11-1 and the 49ers 8-4, so with a win the Seahawks would take the title outright, which would be their first since 2010.
Winning at San Francisco would also send another loud statement that Seattle is the team to beat in the NFC.
Interestingly, though, Las Vegas sportsbooks installed the 49ers as a three-point favorite early in the week, and undoubtedly much of that is due to the struggles that most teams have winning at Candlestick Park, as well as the additional challenge Seattle will have of playing on the road on a Sunday following a Monday night win.
Seahawks coach Pete Carroll says he also expects Seattle will see a different 49ers team than the one that the Seahawks beat 29-3 at CenturyLink Field on Sept. 15.
In that game, Seattle held the 49ers to 207 yards, the second-fewest allowed by the Seahawks all season.
Since then, though, the 49ers have gotten healthier with the return of receivers Michael Crabtree and Mario Manningham and quarterback Colin Kaepernick has responded with two of his better passing games the last two weeks.
"Their style adjusted a little bit during the season and they've focused on some different things with what they're doing offensively," Carroll said. "Defensively, it's pretty much the same. A little bit different focus offensively and it's really enhanced their play. So they're playing really good football right now. They're running the ball like crazy, they play great defense, the quarterback has got all kinds of plays in him, with the confidence in his receivers right now -- and it was hard for him (earlier) at times, they didn't have their guys. So I'm sure they feel a lot better about it. Last week was a great indication of how they could open things and really rip it. So they present a big problem for us because of the consistency in the run game and the volatility of the throwing game."
Seattle, though, is playing as well as it has all season, winning it seventh in a row in a 34-7 beatdown of the Saints Monday night in which it held what was a team with the second-best record in the NFC to just 188 total yards.
Carroll said he likes the direction of the team right now but knows how quickly a team's fortunes can change in a week.
"We don't want to peak too early," he said. "So we're trying to get it going right now."
No better place than San Francisco.
SERIES HISTORY: 30th regular-season meeting. Seahawks lead series, 15-14 and have taken the last two by a combined 71-16 score. Each of those games was in Seattle, however. The 49ers won last year in San Francisco, 13-6, and haven't lost to the Seahawks at home since 2008.
NFL Team Report - Seattle Seahawks - NOTES, QUOTES
--Seattle continues with one of the more amazing stats of the NFL season, having allowed just 15 yards on punt returns all season. Seattle has not allowed a punt return yard in the last four games.
--Seattle has oddly allowed 95 points in the second quarter this season, just 91 in the other three combined.