NFC Championship 2014: Seahawks, 49ers set for biggest game in NFL's newest rivalary

For the Seahawks and 49ers, Sunday will be the defining game of their rivalry.

SB Nation 2014 NFL Playoff Coverage

It all started in 2011. Pete Carroll took over as head coach of the Seattle Seahawks, Jim Harbaugh as head coach of the San Francisco 49ers. Before then, the rivalry between the Seahawks and 49ers was all but dormant. A back-and-forth affair between two franchises stuck in mediocrity for much of the decade since Seattle returned to the NFC in 2002.

But Carroll and Harbaugh changed all that. Carroll helped make the Seahawks into the No. 1 seed in the NFC in 2013, while Harbaugh was busy getting the 49ers to their third straight NFC Championship Game. The history may not be there in this rivalry, but on Sunday when the two teams meet with a trip to the Super Bowl on the line, it will be a marquee moment in a rivalry that is developing into one of the best in the league.

Sunday will be the 31st meeting between the Seahawks and 49ers. The all-time series is tied at 15. The home team has won the last four meetings between the two teams. To add to the intrigue on Sunday, the two teams have never met in the playoffs. A trip to the Super Bowl and the edge in the rivalry is on the line.

Over the last two seasons the 49ers have had trouble in Seattle. While the Seahawks have lost their two games at Candlestick Park by nine points combined, the 49ers have lost their two games at CenturyLink Field by 55.

Sunday is a chance to erase the idea that Seattle is dominant at home. San Francisco can look back to 2011 when it was able to grind out a 19-17 win as the visitor. Or maybe the 49ers want to recapture some of the magic they found back in 2008 at what was then called Qwest Field, when San Francisco won the only overtime game in the series.

When teams play as physically as these two do, bad blood develops. It boils over when the stakes are high, and the stakes have never been higher in this rivalry than they will be on Sunday. It may be a while before we see two hated rivals on as big a stage as the 49ers and Seahawks will be this week.

Forget the history between these two teams, it's games like this one that will define this rivalry.

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