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49ers set up showdown at Seattle with 23-10 win over Carolina

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Somehow you knew that it would come down to this. Seahawks and 49ers for the NFC title and the right to go to Super Bowl XLVIII. Seattle earned their way to the showdown with an eight point victory over New Orleans on Saturday afternoon. San Francisco earned their way with a 13 point win over Carolina Sunday afternoon. Neither team won in a blowout but both teams won in a convincing enough fashion to leave no doubt that they belong on football's second biggest stage next Sunday evening in Seattle.

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Over the course of the next week we will be examining what these two teams have in common as well as what makes them different from each other. Suffice it to say that one of the commonalities is a healthy disdain for the opponent.

Facing a team at least twice a season fosters the contempt that is borne of familiarity. The Hawks and Niners like nothing more than dancing on one another's faces, and each has had an opportunity to do that very do si do this season. Each team held serve in its own house. Seattle won Round One 29-3 on September 15th. San Francisco won Round Two 19-17 on December 8th.

Seattle looks at the combined score of those two games and claims a competitive advantage. San Francisco looks at this, their third straight year playing in the conference title game, as a competitive advantage. At least that's what they look at when the two teams aren't looking down their noses at one another.

Some teams in heated rivalries look to their Head Coach for a calming influence. Not so in this one. San Francisco head man Jim Harbaugh and Seattle head man Pete Carroll...don't vacation together in the offseason. Their steely eyed gaze dates back to their college coaching days when Harbaugh's upstart Stanford Cardinal went to L.A. and laid an upset whipping on Carroll's Trojans. Things haven't gotten any friendlier since.

Seven days until the Showdown in Seattle. It's gonna be fun...

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