Tuesday, January 8, 2013
If a FG is the difference in playoffs (gulp)
By Mike Sando
The guys at numberFire, fresh off projecting all wild-card winners correctly, use their latest Insider piece to project a Seattle-San Francisco matchup in the NFC Championship Game.
Their projection model has the Seahawks beating Atlanta and the 49ers beating Green Bay by a combined four points.
Seeing such close final scores brought to mind the kicking issues affecting the Seattle-Atlanta and San Francisco-Green Bay matchups in the divisional round this weekend.
Seattle kicker Steven Hauschka has a strained calf. Punter Jon Ryan subbed for Hauschka on a kickoff during the Seahawks' wild-card victory over the Washington Redskins. Seattle won that game by 10 points. A closer finish might have complicated decisions on whether to attempt a field goal from various ranges.
The Seahawks aren't sure how well Hauschka will be able to perform against the Falcons.
The 49ers and Packers might be better off with an injured Hauschka, who made 88.9 percent of his field-goal tries during the regular season, than with their current kickers. San Francisco's David Akers and Billy Cundiff joined the Packers' Mason Crosby at the bottom of the NFL's rankings for field-goal accuracy this season.
Akers was 35th out of 37 qualifying kickers with a 69.0 percentage. Crosby (63.6) and Cundiff (58.3) rounded out the rankings.
The chart shows field-goal percentages by distance for NFC West kickers and their opponents in the divisional round. The 49ers have not yet announced which kicker will take the lead against the Packers.
"We have a leader in the clubhouse and we'll see how it goes," 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh told reporters.
Akers made field goals from 25, 37 and 41 yards during the 49ers' 36-32 victory over New Orleans in the divisional round last season.