Trends to Consider if You’re Wagering the NFC Championship Game

Will Aldon Smith be a difference-maker in the NFC Title game?

On Tuesday, I ran through a series of trends and numbers that you’ll want to consider if you’re going to wager on the AFC Championship game between New England and Denver. Today I do the same for the NFC.

The Teams

The San Francisco 49ers are making their 15th appearance in the NFC Title game which is the current record. Overall, they are tied with the Pittsburgh Steelers of the AFC. By contrast, the Seattle Seahawks are making just their second NFC Title game appearance.

To be fair, they did reach the AFC Title game when they were members of that conference but lost to Miami. The 49ers are an impressive 6-2 on the road in NFC Title games while the Seahawks are 1-0 at home. The Seahawks have also won six straight playoff games at home after starting 0-2.

This game features two of the top three scoring defenses in the NFL. This has occurred eight times previously with the winner going on to win the Super Bowl.

Kaepernick and Wilson
Will rushing yards or passing yards be the bigger difference between Kaepernick and Wilson on Sunday?

The Quarterbacks

Colin Kaepernick is 4-1 in the postseason with his only loss coming in Super Bowl XLVII. That record also includes a very good 3-0 record on the road. His completion percentage in those five playoff games is just 57.9% with his high being 76% in last year’s NFC Championship game win over Atlanta which was on the road. Keep in mind too that one third of Kaepernick’s career interceptions have come against Seattle.

Russell Wilson has more career starts but less playoff experience. His postseason record stands at 2-1 with a win at home and a win at Washington last year. His loss came against Atlanta in the Georgia Dome. Wilson’s postseason completion percentage is right at 60% with a high of 66.6% coming in the loss to the Falcons.

Kaepernick and Wilson had almost the exact same rushing yards total this season. Kaepernick rushed for 524 while Wilson was just 15 yards better at 539. The rushing similarities don’t stop there. Kaepernick carried the ball 92 times while Wilson had four more at 96. Kaepernick did have a four to one advantage in rushing touchdowns however.

The Over/Under

After opening at 40.5, the over/under for the NFC Title game has slipped to 39 points. Unlike the AFC Title game, points are liable to be at a premium on Sunday. The Seahawks have beaten San Francisco 29-3 and 41-13 in the teams’ last two meetings in Seattle. The first would have come under today’s O/U number while the game from last year in Seattle would have been over the O/U number.

Ironically, the 49ers have scored 23 points in both of their postseason wins while the Seahawks have scored 23 in their one playoff victory. Assuming both stay on that pace, the over/under would clearly be an ‘over’ selection.

In San Francisco’s case, the total has gone under in four of their last five meetings when playing Seattle. The total has also gone under in four of the Niners’ last six road games.

For Seattle, the total has gone under in four of their last five games at home and has gone the way of the under in all of the Seahawks’ last five games.

Because these two teams both allow less than 20 points per game I’m going to push for the under here.

The Coaches

Jim Harbaugh is in his third year with the 49ers and has a playoff record of 5-2 over that span. Pete Carroll has been in Seattle for four seasons and he has a playoff record of 4-4. Keep in mind he was 1-2 when he coached the New England Patriots in the 1990’s.

Harbaugh does have three road playoff victories in the last two seasons whereas Carroll is unbeaten at home in the playoffs.