2012 NFL Picks: San Francisco 49ers @ Seattle Seahawks Odds and Predictions – Week 16 Sunday Night Football Picks

2012 Week 16 NFL Picks: San Francisco 49ers @ Seattle Seahawks Vegas Odds and Predictions – Free NFL Picks 12/23/2012: It is a December matchup that diehard football fans dream of. The NFC West leading San Francisco 49ers (10-3-1) are on the road with a chance to clinch the division against a Seattle Seahawks (9-5) team that can secure a playoff spot with a victory of its own. The game is also a matchup of the two best defenses in the NFL, two of the best running games and two of the young, exciting QBs in the leagues. Not surprisingly, oddsmakers are expecting a tight one with the Seahawks favored by a single point at home.

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Defense has been the calling card of the 49ers all season, and they enter Sunday night’s game allowing a league-low 15.6 points per game and the second-fewest yards per game. The unit features stars like Patrick Willis, Justin Smith and Aldon Smith, and San Francisco’s defense also ranks in the top five against the run and the pass. While the defense gets a lot of credit, the offense actually ranks in the top 10 in scoring, as well. Running back Frank Gore heads the second-best ground attack, and quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s scrambling ability has added a new dimension to the offense since taking over the starting job.

Seattle has followed a similar blueprint. The Seahawks’ defense is also allowing just 15.6 points per game, and the unit currently ranks in the top 10 against both the run and the pass and third in yards allowed overall. On the offensive side of the ball, Marshawn Lynch heads to the league’s third-best rushing attack. Meanwhile, rookie quarterback Russell Wilson continues to improve, and he has thrown for 21 touchdowns and more than 2,600 yards and added more than 400 yards on the ground. Thanks to the balance provided by Wilson, the Seahawks have scored a combined 108 points in their last two games and are up to 11th in points per game overall.

The 49ers Win If:

Points are likely going to be at a premium in this game, and Kaepernick is going to be San Francisco’s X-factor. If he can make a couple of big plays with his arm and his legs during the course of the game, the 49ers are going to be in good shape. However, if his inexperience shows through and he turns the ball over, San Francisco is going to have a hard time winning in Seattle. Defensively, the 49ers only real concern is containing Wilson outside of the pocket. Last but not least, kicker David Akers needs to overcome his recent struggles. He has already missed 10 kicks this year, and even one or two misses against Seattle could cost the 49ers a win. At the end of the day, San Francisco can win the game if Kaepernick outplays Wilson and Akers converts the chances he gets.

The Seahawks Win If:

In an ideal world, the Seahawks would establish Lynch and the ground game and simply use pound the ball on offense and rely on their stout defense. However, running straight at San Francisco is next to impossible, and Seattle’s ability to adjust and find different ways to score will determine whether or not they win the game. If Wilson is able to make a few big plays with his legs and hit a few big passes, Seattle is going to be in business. Defensively, the Seahawks need to make sure Kaepernick has to beat them with his arm and not his legs. If Seattle makes sure this game comes down to which QB can make more clutch throws, the efficiency and decision making of Wilson should put the Seahawks in the playoffs.

Bottom Line:

While it may not be the high-scoring rollercoaster that San Francisco endured against New England last week, the matchup against the Seahawks could produce a very different but equally entertaining brand of football. Both these teams punish opposing offenses with their hard-hitting defenses and both punish opposing defenses with their power running games. In the end it is strength against strength, but the fact that the game is in Seattle tips the scales in favor of the Seahawks. They simply play better on both sides of the ball when they are at home, and they have a 6-0 record to prove it. More importantly, Seattle has wins over New England and Green Bay at home and is allowing just 11.5 points per game on its home turf. Some of the best teams in the NFL have fallen to the Seahawks in Seattle, and the 49ers will become the latest victim in a hard-hitting, physical football game.

Prediction: Seattle Seahawks (-1) Cover the Spread

San Francisco 49ers @ Seattle Seahawks
Line: Seattle -3
Total: Over/Under 41
Time: 8:30 PM EST on NBC

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