The NFC title game is the focus of Matt King’s feature today and once again he opens his stat book to give us the low down on who we should be keeping an eye on.
They don’t get much bigger than this, as the 49ers take on the Seahawks.
Firstly, the San Francisco 49ers.
With their 24th ranked offence, their 5th ranked defence, 30th ranked passing and 3rd placed rushing, the 49ers have continued what they started last season, but can they go one better and win the final game of the season? They are well positioned to do so, and in addition to having done it last season, the following players are the ones to watch, in addition to their quest for six [first since 1994].
The 49ers beat the Seahawks in early December by two points [19-17] and as mentioned earlier, it’s been very much a running man’s game in a passing league to this point of the playoffs, so keep an eye on:
Colin Kaepernick :
Unusually, I am not highlighting him for his passing ability, [although 31-58 totalling 423 yards with two TDs] is not to be overlooked, his 15 rush attempts totalling 113 yards averaging 7.5 yards per carry with one touchdown last time, and regular season numbers of [92 carries, 524 yards, at an average of 5.7 yards per carry and four touchdowns] will certainly be a thorn in the side of the Seahawks D line [which ranked 1st] but coupled with Frank Gore makes a very threatening double headed monster, and they can’t think pass if Kaepernick is in possession of the ball he has the ability to change on the fly depending on the lines in front of him.
Through the post season so far he has made : 12 combined tackles [10 solo 2 assisted, 4.5 sacks 1 forced fumble and 0 interceptions which followed up from a regular season of 60 combined tackles, [52 total 8 assisted], 8.5 sacks, one forced fumble and one interception. Dependable in regulation, as in the post and will be looking to get stuck into the Seahawks offensive line and if he [or the rest of the D] can get to Russell Wilson early, it could pave the way to a repeat Super bowl performance.
You wouldn’t know it to mention the name, but the Seahawks have won this game eight times in the past, and this could be the year to make it nine, and these are the reasons why:
The 12th man. Century Link Field will be loud, and as it is this close to immortality [though not as close as next time] , their better record, largely superior team numbers and home field advantage.
They enter this one with the 17th ranked offence, 1st ranked defence, 26th ranked passing and 4th ranked rushing.
Their ones to watch for this game are:
Marshawn Lynch . When the Quarterback only attempts 18 throws in the whole game, you know the focus won’t be on a receiver. Lynch had most of the ball in the previous game, and his 28 rush attempts, more than doubles the amount of passes thrown all game. His numbers in full, attempts 28, yards gained 140, he averaged 5 yards per carry and scored 2 TDs. In the regular season, he carried the ball 301 times, piling up 1,257 yards, at an average of 4.2 and scoring a dozen touchdowns. Lynch continues to go from strength to strength, and will look to have an even bigger 2014 season.
The numbers from the playoffs so far read : 14 combined tackles [ 4 solo 10 assisted] 0 sacks, 0 forced fumbles and 0 interceptions, although his regular season was impressive enough with 99 combined tackles [65 total, 34 assisted] , 0.0 sacks, 1 forced fumble and 3 interceptions. This was his 4th year in the league, and with the Seahawks, he was close to his career highs in both sacks [1.0] and Interceptions . The future looks bright for this 25 year old and he should improve all around next season.
So, there we have it, only four teams remain, and come Sunday night, only two will progress to play in the big game. If I was a betting man, I’d be certain that The Patriots would be taking on the 49ers, but I’ve been wrong before so I’m as excited as you are to find out who gets in and who must rebuild to go one better next time.