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Randall Benton / Sacramento Bee

Both times the 49ers and Seattle Seahawks played in 2013, it was a rough affair - as this contact between the Niners’ Bruce Miller and Seattle’s Byron Maxwell illustrates - and Sunday’s NFC Championship game is expected to be similarly hardscrabble. Many experts predict a Seattle win, but others offer strong reasons to pick the 49ers.

Poll

Which team will win the NFC Championship game?

Who will win? Bee team, Seattle reporters predict 49ers-Seahawks outcome

Published: Thursday, Jan. 16, 2014 - 2:57 pm
Last Modified: Saturday, Jan. 18, 2014 - 12:53 pm

In their history against each other, the San Francisco 49ers and Seattle Seahawks are dead-even, each team having won 15 games in a 30-game series dating back to 1976.

The tie-breaker comes Sunday when they play at super-loud CenturyLink Field in Seattle for the NFC Championship.

Experts down the line expect a close game, though most expect a Seahawks’ victory. Here are predictions from The Bee sports team covering the 49ers and reporters who regularly cover the Seahawks. Check out what they have to say, then take our poll and let us know with whom you agree.

To see results of that poll and expanded coverage of the “Battle in Seattle,” check out a special section Sunday in The Bee and at sacbee.com.

BEE STAFF PREDICTIONS

Matt Barrows, 49ers beat writer

Seahawks 19, 49ers 17

Comment: Yes, the 49ers are on a roll and are better equipped than ever for the Seahawks’ formidable defense. But Seattle’s home-field advantage is worth 10 points minimum, and the 49ers didn’t come close to that in their past two visits.

Tom Couzens, sports editor

Seahawks 20, 49ers 17

Comment: Seattle’s offense won’t score against the 49ers, but its defense will get two touchdowns, and two field goals by Steve Hauschka - 33 of 35 during the regular season and all three attempts last week - will be the difference.

Victor Contreras, deputy sports editor

49ers 24, Seahawks 21

Comment: After agonizing losses in the NFC Championship two years ago and the Super Bowl last season, there’s a sense the 49ers are on a quest to finish what they started. Logic says Seattle, but the 49ers will find a way to pull out the victory.

Ailene Voisin, columnist

49ers 20, Seahawks 17

Comment: Offensive line will dominate, Frank Gore will have a big day, and Colin Kaepernick will be unspectacular but steady.

Matt Kawahara, staff writer

49ers 16, Seahawks 13

Comment: Colin Kaepernick and the 49ers’ offense will commit no more than one turnover, and that will be the difference this time with San Francisco making one more stop than the Seahawks in a defensive struggle.

SEATTLE REPORTER PREDICTIONS

John McGrath, Tacoma News Tribune

Seahaws 23, 49ers 20

Comment: The 49ers are playing better right now, but the Seahawks are playing with the strongest home-crowd advantage since the USA “Miracle on Ice” hockey team won the 1980 gold medal at Lake Placid.

Jayson Jenks, Seattle Times

Seahawks 17, 49ers 16

Comment: This game looks even in just about every way on paper. The difference: Seattle is just too tough to beat at home.

Jerry Brewer, Seattle Times

Seahawks 20, 49ers 19

Comment: In a classic game, Russell Wilson will be a tad more efficient than Colin Kaepernick, and that will be the difference.

Bob Condotta, Seattle Times

Seahawks 17, 49ers 13

Comment: Sure, the play of Seattle’s offense lately is a reason for some angst. And the 49ers are an experienced group (this is their third straight conference title game) that is on a roll. But this is what the Seahawks wanted - a home conference title game - and the CenturyLink crowd should be enough one more time.

Larry Stone, Seattle Times

49ers 27, Seahawks 24

Comment: This game should go down to the wire, but I just think the 49ers are playing slightly better than the Seahawks now - enough to overcome Seattle's home-field advantage. Barely.



MATTHEW BARROWS

Matt was born in Blacksburg, Va., and attended the University of Virginia. He graduated in 1995, went to Northwestern for a journalism degree a year later, and got his first job at a South Carolina daily in 1997. He joined The Bee as a Metro reporter in 1999 and started covering the 49ers in 2003. His favorite player of all time is Darrell Green.

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