Predictions & Projections
David Dorey
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Divisional New Orleans at Seattle 4:35 PM San Francisco at Carolina 1:05 PM
*UPDATED  Indianapolis at New England 8:10 PM San Diego at Denver 4:40 PM

Prediction: NO 16, SEA 27 (Line: SEA by 7.5)

Update: Pierre Thomas practiced on a limited basis Friday and is listed as questionable. If he plays, he takes a bite out of everybody's numbers but particularly Khiry Robinson and to some extent Mark Ingram. Percy Harvin practiced fully all week and is expected to play, though it will be just his second outing this season so don't expect an every-snap contribution. Also notable is Seattle linebacker K.J. Wright being ruled out with a foot injury. He was instrumental in the Seahawks' coverage of Jimmy Graham in the earlier meeting this season.

This is a replay of week 13 when the Seahawks won 34-7 in Seattle. The Saints were able to mount a comeback in Philadelphia against an average defense but are still only 4-5 in road games this year. Any time they met any above average defense on the road they lost. The Seahawks lost only once at home and that was in week 15 when nearly every division leader mysteriously lost their games. Bottom line - the Seahawks only allowed 110 points at home for an average of less than 14 points per opponent and this will be a game that they have been resting up and preparing for two weeks.

The weather should be plenty warm but showers are expected.

1 GB 34-28 10 CAR 9-10
2 @SEA 3-29 11 @NO 20-23
3 IND 7-27 12 @WAS 27-6
4 @STL 35-11 13 STL 23-13
5 HOU 34-3 14 SEA 19-17
6 ARI 32-20 15 @TB 33-14
7 @TEN 31-17 16 ATL 34-24
8 @JAC 42-10 17 @ARI 23-20
9 BYE WEEK 18 @GB 23-20
News | Statistics | Roster
San Francisco Rush Catch Pass
QB Colin Kaepernick 60 - 240,1
RB Frank Gore 50,1 3-20 -
TE Vernon Davis - 4-50,1 -
WR Michael Crabtree - 5-80 -
WR Anquan Boldin - 5-50  
PK Phil Dawson 3 FG 2 XP -

Pregame Notes: Although the 49ers never see freezing temperatures at home, they played through the frigid conditions in Green Bay better than the Packers did. As would be expected, the rushing effort was prominently displayed but Frank Gore was held to only 66 yards on 209 carries and scored once. Colin Kaepernick was the difference maker with 98 yards on seven runs including one 42-yard scamper.

But the Nines were able to pass despite the harsh temperatures. Michael Crabtree reeled in eight catches for 125 yards while Vernon Davis scored once in his two receptions for 37 yards. Throw in Anquan Boldin with three catches for 38 yards and the 49ers passed better than Rodgers and the Packers. The addition of Crabtree cannot be undervalued and he was not a part of the first meeting with the Panthers.

That first meeting with the Panthers was at home and they lost. But it was a game where neither team did much offensively and the second half was scoreless save for the winning field goal by the Panthers. That game was very much unlike all others for the 49ers who were coming off their bye week and had been scoring 30+ points for five straight weeks prior to running into that buzz saw.

Kaepernick only passed for 91 yards and one interception (at the very end of the game). Boldin only caught three passes for 23 yards and Vernon Davis was held to only one catch. There is no denying that the Panthers defense is not outstanding but this time around it will be Crabtree instead of Mario Manningham which is a major upgrade. These are actually two similar teams other than the quality of their receivers.

The Panthers have never allowed more than one passing score in Carolina though four teams passed for over 250 yards. They are also great against the run with just one rushing score allowed to visitors and never more than 83 rush yards. In fantasy terms, there is not likely to be more than moderate stats by any 49er player and an even bigger risk they will turn in abysmal stats than anything significant. The Panthers have been preparing to face the 49ers who they already played. That at least suggests that the 49ers have to bring something different to the party than what they did in week ten. That is likely more passing and having Kaepernick run more.

Any receiving score will heavily favor Davis since the Panthers allowed nine scores to the position this year. Only five wideouts scored on them and just one in Carolina.

Gaining Fantasy Points SF 16 19 31 7 6 9
Preventing Fantasy Points SEA 1 3 1 10 2 5


1 @CAR 12-7 10 @ATL 33-10
2 SF 29-3 11 MIN 41-20
3 JAC 45-17 12 BYE WEEK
4 @HOU 23-20 13 NO 34-7
5 @IND 28-34 14 @SF 17-19
6 TEN 20-13 15 @NYG 23-0
7 @ARI 34-22 16 ARI 10-17
8 @STL 14-9 17 STL 27-9
9 TB 27-24 ----- ----- -----
News | Statistics | Roster
Rush Catch Pass
QB Russell Wilson 50 - 230,1
RB Marshawn Lynch 90,1 3-15 -
TE Zach Miller - 5-60,1 -
WR Percy Harvin - 2-30 -
WR Doug Baldwin - 5-50  
WR Jermaine Kearse - 2-30 -
WR Golden Tate - 4-50 -
PK Steve Hauschka 2 FG 3 XP -

Pregame Notes: The Seahawks finally get to play as the #1 seed knowing for more than a month that they has a firm grasp on being the top dog in the NFC and getting homefield throughout the playoffs which looms huge for a team that plays so well at home. Aside from the loss to the visiting Cardinals which seemed more trap than any real problem, the Seahawks have been dominating at home and more so at the end of the year. The problem in forecasting them is that they often wouldn't overly exert themselves in games they knew they could win. Home games against important opponents have all been big wins.

All Russell Wilson could do against the Saints was to throw for a season high 310 yards and three touchdowns. He completed 22 of 30 passes and even ran eight times for 47 yards in the blowout win. The Saints came prepared to stop Marshawn Lynch and succeeded when he only ran for 45 yards on 16 carries but at a far too high price. That was easily the worst home game for Lynch and against a defense that allowed seven touchdowns to running backs in road games along with major yardage for the likes of Doug Martin, Stevan Ridley, Chris Ivory and Zac Stacy.

The Saints won't likely throw so much against the run and allow the pass to shred them again. And the Saints may be without CB Keenan Lewis anyway. Robert Turbin finished the last game with 11 runs but only 34 yards as the Saints still could only stop the rush.

Against the Saints, Zach Miller turned in a season best five catches for 86 yards and one touchdown. Doug Baldwin also managed to have his best fantasy game when he turned four receptions into 77 yards and one score. Somehow Golden Tate (4-45) was left out as was Jermaine Kearse (2-26).

So far Russell Wilson is the only quarterback that logged more than two scores on the Saints who otherwise have been solid against the pass and less so versus the run - more so in road venues. That beat down last time will no doubt make the Saints respect the pass more and at the expense of the run. The weather is forecasted to be of no issue so the Seahawks can employ any aspect of their offense.

While the Saints are a good team, the Seahawks at home in a game they are focused on winning have been so good on defense that the offense doesn't need to be that much. But this is a game where the offense will continue to produce if possible and never let up against an offense with the power of the Saints.

The fantasy fortunes are hard to assign since the passing game is so inconsistent in most games and rarely offers much fantasy value for any individual. Lynch should be better this time around and Percy Harvin may play. He is back at practice but even if he is active he'll almost certainly be on a snap count and limited. I like a defensive score in this game.

Gaining Fantasy Points SEA 7 16 22 23 4 3
Preventing Fantasy Points SF 3 9 9 13 1 1

Divisional New Orleans at Seattle 4:35 PM San Francisco at Carolina 1:05 PM
*UPDATED  Indianapolis at New England 8:10 PM San Diego at Denver 4:40 PM

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