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Where: CenturyLink Field, Seattle, WA
When: 23.00 (GMT)
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Riding an eight-game winning streak, it’s easy to understand why the San Francisco 49ers feel they can perform better than they did in their last two visits to Seattle.
Whether they’re good enough to end their road struggles against the Seahawks and reach the Super Bowl for a second straight season will be determined Sunday with the NFC championship on the line.
Mirroring the images of their fiery and animated head coaches, both sides expect the hitting to be hard, the talking loud and the emotions high when these NFC West rivals meet with so much at stake.
Seattle’s only Super Bowl appearance was a 2006 loss to Pittsburgh while the 49ers seek a return to the big game after losing last year to Baltimore in their first Super Bowl since beating San Diego in 1995 for their fifth crown in 14 seasons.
The Seahawks led the NFL in denying opponents points and yardage and beat San Francisco 29-3 earlier this season in Seattle, where they have won the past two meetings with the 49ers by a combined 71-16.
“We haven’t done anything yet,” said Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson. “We have to stay focused and play the best we can.”
The 49ers have experience with the Seattle crowds, whose record noise levels make hearing coded play signals difficult for opponents.
But the Seahawks are 16-1 at home over two years and have won six home playoff games in a row.
“We’re ready to go,” 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick said. “We’re a different team than the last time we played up there.”
Though the teams have split the last four meetings, top-seeded Seattle (14-3) has looked dominant while forcing seven turnovers and outscoring the 49ers 71-16 to win the last two at raucous CenturyLink Field.
With the “12th Man” crowd there to lend support, the Seahawks have won six straight home playoff games, highlighted by a 34-14 victory over Carolina in the NFC championship game during the 2005 season.
The noise level in the stadium even produced a small earthquake during last Saturday’s 23-15 win over New Orleans.