The San Francisco 49ers have been demoralized by a combined scored of 71-16 in their last two games on the Seattle Seahawks' home turf.
Now that the surging 49ers boast the NFL's longest winning streak while the Seahawks' passing game has stalled, both sides expect a closer game this time around.
"A battle. A brutal battle. It will be sparks, flames, you name it," 49ers tight end Vernon Davis told NFL Media's Jeff Darlington after Sunday's win. "It's going to be tough, and we know that. We have to go back to Santa Clara, look at film and correct some of the things that we need to correct from our last match."
Even if Davis concedes Seattle's front office is constructing a dynasty, he believes the 49ers have "that steam, that edge, that momentum" that makes them the league's most complete team.
Coach Pete Carroll acknowledged Monday that the Seahawks will be faced with a more formidable opponent than in their 29-3 victory in September.
"Gosh, they look good," Carroll said on his KIRO-AM radio show, via ESPN. "I've watched them a lot. They've played very consistent football at the end of the season. It's a really well-quipped football team coming in against another really well-equipped football team."
As Gregg Rosenthal has pointed out, the Cardinals' recent upset at CenturyLink Field is instructive because the 49ers are built similarly on defense.
Silver: A scintillating Sunday slate
Bitter rivals facing off in one game; Manning-Brady XV in the other.
can't wait till Championship Sunday.
The Seahawks have boasted an extraordinary home-field advantage over the past two years, but that Week 16 loss removes the feeling of invincibility that gave them a psychological edge.
"There's not a better matchup you could find right now in the NFC," Carroll added. "We're thrilled about it."
So are we. This is arguably the strongest final four field in history.
The latest "Around The League Podcast" broke down all four divisional round games and looked ahead to a monster conference championship weekend.