The 2013 NFC championship game was one of the best in recent memory, with the Seattle Seahawks edging the San Francisco 49ers by a mere six points. To cap off Thanksgiving, the two teams will play each other again, this time in Santa Clara.
The Seahawks earned a needed win over the previously 9-1 Arizona Cardinals last Sunday at CenturyLink Field. Dan Quinn's defense clamped down on the Cardinals, holding them to just a field goal. That's not to say Seattle didn't incur its share of issues, as Russell Wilson played under duress most of the game and the offensive line struggled to handle Todd Bowles' blitz-heavy defense. The Seahawks will need to improve their protection in order for Wilson to get in a groove on the road, especially against San Francisco's reinvigorated front seven.
Though the 49ers weren't pressuring the quarterback at their usual frequency early in the season, they've recovered considerably since Aldon Smith returned to the lineup. The All-Pro outside linebacker forms a diabolical tandem with defensive end Justin Smith. When the two run stunts, they can collapse an offensive line and force the quarterback out of the pocket. Once there, rookie inside linebacker Chris Borland has been racking up tackles. He's a dark horse Defensive Rookie of the Year candidate, and has done everything the team could ask for and more while replacing All-Pro Patrick Willis.
Marshawn Lynch is quietly having one of the best seasons of his career. He's on pace to rush for 13 touchdowns and over 1,200 yards. At the same time, his 290 receiving yards are already only 26 short of his career-high, with five games to go. Wilson is also enjoying a productive year running the ball -- he's already set a new personal best for yards with 644 and is one rushing touchdown away from setting another.
San Francisco signed quarterback Colin Kaepernick to a massive extension this offseason based largely on his potential for improvement. However, through 11 weeks Kaepernick has been more or less the same player as before. His 61.7 percent completion rate is only slightly higher than his career mark of 60.4, while his 7.54 yards per attempt falls below his historic average. He is on pace for over 3,800 passing yards, but he will also likely throw more interceptions than in any season prior and he's made a recent habit of losing fumbles. At running back, Frank Gore is finally starting to show signs of aging. His 4.0 yards per carry are the lowest of his career, while his rushing total projects to fall below 1,000 for the first time since his injury-shortened 2010 campaign.
Both teams enter Thursday with 7-4 records, tied for second in the NFC West.
How to watch
Where: Levi's Stadium, Santa Clara
When: 8:30 p.m. ET
Announcers: Al Michaels, Cris Collinsworth, Michele Tafoya
The 49ers are 1-point favorites according to OddsShark, with an over/under of 40 points.