San Francisco at Seattle (-3)
The beauty of the NFL is that for every inaction, such as that we’re destined to get from Jags-Raiders, there is an equal and opposite action: like the fireworks we’re likely to get out of 49ers-Seahawks in Seattle
We believe the Super Bowl will likely be won by the NFC champion. We believe the NFC title could very well come down to the team that wins the NFC West. And we believe the team that dominates the 49ers-Seahawks series will win that rough and tumble division.
That’s the long way of saying that San Francisco-Seattle is the first of very two big games for the NFC West powers.
The teams split their 2012 season: San Francisco won a tough 13-6 game at home; the Seahawks blew out the 49ers, 42-13, in front of the 12th Man during their brilliant late-season surge. It’s the biggest defeat the 49ers suffered in the Jim Harbaugh Era.
Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson was deadly effective passing the ball in Week 1 (115.7 passer rating). But the Seahawks struggled badly to put away the Panthers, 12-7.
San Francisco quarterback Colin Kaepernick returned to his deadly effective dual-threat form in Week 1 (118.9 Real QB Rating). He guided the 49ers to a 13-point fourth-quarter surge to break open a 21-21 deadlock in a 34-28 victory.
So this game has plenty of young star power at quarterback and both Wilson and Kaepernick are off to brilliant starts. We expect these two clubs overall to be largely evenly matched throughout the year
No team habitually displays a greater disparity between performance on the road and back at home than the Seahawks. So we don't put too much stock in Seattle's struggle last week. They contained a talented quarterback in Cam Newton and held an NFL team to just 7 points on the road 3,000 miles from home. No shame in that. Especially considering the club's historic struggles when playing so far away from Seattle.
The 49ers are a great team. But the Seahawks are an especially great team at home. We expect the Seattle defense to have enough juice to contain Kaepernick, much like it largely did in Seattle’s big late-season win last year.
The 3-point line is exactly where we’d put this game. So we don’t like it as a wager. But we are doomed by the football fates to pick every game, every week. And in this instance Seattle is just too consistently a great play at home.
Pick: Seattle 24, San Francisco 20