Niners-Seahawks a late-season classic
Under normal circumstances, Seattle's CenturyLink Field rocks from the noise of the 12th Man.
Imagine how far across Puget Sound the crowd's cheers will reverberate when the Seahawks host the 49ers on Sunday night.
The NFL flexed this one to prime time, and it was a wise choice. Although the 49ers (10-3-1) still can win the NFC West even if they fall to Seattle a win in the finale against Arizona would do it there's no way they'll take Pete Carroll's Seahawks lightly.
Niners coach Jim Harbaugh and Carroll had a bit of a feud going when they were college coaches, Harbaugh at Stanford and Carroll at Southern Cal. That hasn't diminished much in the pros.
"It's a big division finish for us and we'll see how it goes," said Carroll, whose team is 6-0 at home and hosts St. Louis in its last game. "All we can do is focus on this game right here. We'll have no trouble focusing. They're a great team, and coming home and all that it will be exciting to get ready."
Seattle (No. 7 in the AP Pro32) is on quite a roll, winning three in a row and five of six. Its defense has allowed 219 points, second only to the 218 yielded by the 49ers (No. 2, AP Pro32). And all the offense has done is put up 58 and 50 points the last two weeks. Seattle (9-5) is the first team since 1950 to score 50 or more points in consecutive weeks, impressing the oddsmakers enough to make the Seahawks 2 1/2-point favorites.
But the 49ers also have done something rare, going into New England and, after blowing a 28-point lead, beating the Patriots 41-34. They have lost only one of their last eight games.
"I think the thing that the players were feeling and probably anybody that was watching it was feeling was that there were two teams two very good teams, two hard-hitting teams, two teams that have a lot of pride in how they play really came out to see who's better," Harbaugh said of the Patriots game. "And wanted to be better and wanted to win that game, and it showed.
"This game will be the same, I really believe that."
So do we, but without the scoreboard being overworked.
No. 25 Tennessee (plus 10 1/2 ) at No. 6 Green Bay
Packers have NFC North clinched, probably won't find way to No. 1 seed. Still ...
BEST BET: PACKERS, 31-10
No. 17 New Orleans (plus 3) at No. 12 Dallas
Saints damage Cowboys' playoff hopes with high-scoring win.
UPSET SPECIAL: Saints, 31-30
No. 4 Atlanta (minus 3) at No. 28 Detroit, Saturday night
Falcons can grab NFC home-field advantage with a win. Consider it grabbed.
No. 13 Cincinnati (plus 5) at No. 15 Pittsburgh
One of these teams will be in playoffs. Shockingly, it will be Cincinnati.
No. 3 New England (minus 14) at No. 31 Jacksonville
Patriots are an angry bunch, will take it out on weak Jaguars.
No. 11 Indianapolis (minus 6) at No. 32 Kansas City
Colts secure wild-card spot against NFL's worst team.
No. 8 Washington (minus 4) at No. 29 Philadelphia
Redskins have come too far to stumble here.
No. 18 St. Louis (plus 3) at No. 20 Tampa Bay
A pair of teams to perhaps watch in 2013. As for right now ...
No. 9 (tie) New York Giants (minus 1) at No. 9 (tie) Baltimore
Tough to explain Giants' and Ravens' inconsistencies.
No. 14 Minnesota (plus 7) at No. 5 Houston
Adrian Peterson's pursuit of rushing record could get stymied here.
No. 23 Cleveland (plus 12) at No. 1 Denver
Broncos are looking at 11-game win streak to finish season.
No. 16 Chicago (minus 5 1/2 ) at No. 27 Arizona
Injury-ravaged Bears have enough left to stay alive in wild-card chase.
No. 30 Oakland (plus 8) at No. 21 Carolina
Panthers might have saved Ron Rivera's coaching job with recent spurt.
No. 26 Buffalo (plus 5) at No. 19 Miami
Who cares, Part I?
No. 24 San Diego (plus 3) at No. 22 New York Jets
Who cares, Part II?
Against spread: 7-8 (93-114-7). Straight up: 8-8 (134-85-1)
Best Bet: 6-7-2 against spread, 10-5 straight up.
Upset special: 10-5 against spread, 8-7 straight up.