By Zach Gilliland
The San Francisco 49ers earned a spot in the NFL's NFC Championship Game Monday when they beat the Carolina Panthers 23-10. Now they have a big test ahead of them this weekend: the Seattle Seahawks.
I think the 49ers are the team to bet on right now because they are the hottest team. Colin Kaepernick is playing great football, but the defense is carrying this team right now. While Seattle and Denver are currently considered above the 49ers when referencing current NFL Super Bowl odds this does not necessarily reflect who truly has the best chance to win the big game.
The 49ers defense looked very good in the second half Sunday against the Panthers. Their front seven was able to hold the Panthers scoreless after halftime, and also held the Panthers from scoring touchdowns near the goal line in the first half.
Kaepernick has been clutch in the playoffs; he has a 4-1 postseason record. While the 49ers have struggled in Seattle, I think the added motivation will also help get the job done for San Francisco. This is a team that has come so close to getting that Super Bowl win the past two seasons, so I think they will be extremely focused on doing what it takes to get this win.
The other team I think has the second-best chance of winning the Super Bowl is the Seattle Seahawks. In my opinion, whoever wins the NFC will win the Super Bowl because of one word: defense. The Seahawks and 49ers both play great defense. Both will be able to get pressure on whichever quarterback they play in the Super Bowl. Seattle has a chance at winning it all because of their defense obviously, but also because of the run game.
Marshawn Lynch is among the best in the league; he racked up 140 yards and two touchdowns on the ground in Saturday's 23-15 win over New Orleans. Russell Wilson plays beyond his years also. He has only nine interceptions this season compared to 26 touchdown passes.
The team that I think will lose the Super Bowl, but represent the AFC is the New England Patriots. I think the run game is going to be very crucial to the Patriots' success. LeGarrette Blount has been money for the Pats the last two weeks, rushing for 366 yards and six touchdowns. The Broncos will be forced to play the run at times, which will open things up for Tom Brady through the air. I am a big Peyton Manning fan, but I trust Brady more in times like this.
I think all three of these teams will have a chance, but I think the 49ers/Patriots matchup is the most likely to happen.
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