San Francisco 49ers at Seattle Seahawks: 2013 NFC Championship Pick

San Francisco 49ers (14-4) at Seattle Seahawks (14-3)

I almost never go against the Seahawks at home and with good reason. Since 2007, the Seahawks are 39-19 ATS at home, including 23-11 ATS as home favorites. They have been especially good over the past two years, as they’ve broken out as an elite team, going 12-5 ATS since the start of the 2012 season. They are outscoring opponents by an average of 16.41 points per game at home since the start of last season and have a 16-1 record over that time span.

I went against the Seahawks at home last week because I thought the line was just too big and because teams tend to cover in the playoffs in same season, same site, non-divisional revenge games. Going against them at home didn’t end badly last week. I had my pick push because I got the Saints +8 and they lost by exactly 8, but if I had gotten it at +9.5, where it was right before the game, it would have been a win for me.

This week, the line isn’t nearly big enough. This line, at 3.5, essentially suggests that these two teams are even and that the Seahawks don’t have a significant home field advantage. You can argue the first one, but you can’t deny their home field advantage. The only way this line makes sense given the Seahawks’ home dominance is if the 49ers are 2-3 points better than the Seahawks on a neutral field.

Not only do I think that’s wrong, I think the Seahawks are the better team on a neutral field. The Seahawks move the chains at a 71.88% rate, as opposed to 66.87% for their opponents, a differential of 5.01%. The 49ers, meanwhile, move the chains at a 71.26% rate, as opposed to 68.02% for their opponents, a differential of 3.25%. That suggests that the Seahawks should be about 5 point favorites even before we factor in their crazy home field advantage. Home field advantage taken into account, the Seahawks should really be favored by 7.5 or 8 points, not 3.5. We’re getting significant line value with them.

The 49ers do have one trend working for them. Teams with 12+ wins are 39-11 ATS in the playoffs against teams with better record than them. However, there are definitely plenty of other things working against them. It’s also worth noting that no team since the 1992-1993 Bills have made the Super Bowl the year after losing the Super Bowl and they did it in an AFC that was much weaker than today’s NFC.

Finally, in spite of last week’s win in Carolina, the 49ers have had a lot of issues with top level teams this year. They’ve gone 2-4 in games against teams that finished with 11 or more wins. The other 3 remaining playoff teams are a combined 9-6 (Seattle 4-2, New England 3-2, Denver 2-2). It’s been worse than that as Colin Kaepernick has really struggled in those 6 games.

The Carolina game was his best performance in that type of game this season, but he still just completed 53.3% of his passes. His highest completion percentage in those 6 games is still just 54.8%. In those 6 games total, he is 84 of 165 (50.9%) for 866 yards (5.24 YPA), 4 touchdowns, and 7 interceptions, while rushing for 194 yards and a touchdown on 40 carries. In his other 12 games, he’s 190 of 309 (61.5%) for 2745 yards (8.88 YPA), 19 touchdowns, and 2 interceptions, while rushing for 443 yards and 4 touchdowns on 67 carries. He’s already been destroyed twice in his young career in Seattle by scores of 42-13 and 29-3. This one might be a little closer, but I love getting Seattle at just -3.5.

Seattle Seahawks 20 San Francisco 49ers 10

Pick against spread: Seattle -3.5

Confidence: High




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