Sando's best guesses: Week 19 predictions

It's a little early to start previewing a Seattle Seahawks-San Francisco 49ers matchup in the NFC Championship Game.

Both teams have hurdles to clear in the NFC divisional playoffs this weekend.

It's so close to happening, though, and how sweet it would be for this reborn division. The Seahawks-49ers rivalry intensified in Week 16 when Seattle beat San Francisco for the first time since Jim Harbaugh arrived as the 49ers' coach. Imagine the atmosphere around here if one team kept the other from a Super Bowl.

We won't have to imagine if my Week 19 predictions come true:

  • Green Bay Packers at San Francisco 49ers, Saturday, 8 p.m. ET: I'll admit to wavering on this one because the 49ers have become more difficult to figure through injuries and personnel changes. There's a perception that Green Bay is the hotter team and that might be true given Aaron Rodgers' current four-game run of 11 touchdown passes with no interceptions. But with the No. 2 seed at stake in Week 17, the Packers could not stop Christian Ponder from beating them with three touchdown passes. While every game is a separate entity, it's fair to say the 49ers' Colin Kaepernick is better than Ponder. I'll take the 49ers with a few reservations. Sando's best guess: 49ers 28, Packers 24

  • Seattle Seahawks at Atlanta Falcons, Sunday, 1 p.m. ET: Atlanta was going to be my pick here once the Seahawks lost defensive end Chris Clemons to a season-ending knee injury. Seattle is traveling across the country in consecutive weeks. If that wasn't bad enough, the Seahawks also drew the dreaded 10 a.m. PT kickoff. The Seahawks are the more well-rounded team, however. Russell Wilson and Marshawn Lynch are a tough combination to beat right now. Count me in for an all-NFC West championship game, but hedge your bets. It could be wishful thinking unless Wilson and the passing game are sharper this week. Sando's best guess: Seahawks 27, Falcons 20.

Noted: I went 1-0 on NFC West picks last week, picking a 24-17 Seahawks victory (24-14 actual score). That makes me 36-17 (.679) for the season when picking games involving NFC West teams. We've also got the "You called it" competition going, plus the Pigskin Pick'em group, so don't be shy with your own picks.