Game Preview: Atlanta Falcons host San Francisco 49ers for NFC Championship Game
This Sunday the Atlanta Falcons (14-3) host the San Francisco 49ers (12-4-1) for the most important home game in that team’s history — the NFC Championship game.
The 49ers are coming off a dominant performance against the Green Bay Packers in which Colin Kaepernick broke Michael Vick’s record for most rushing yards by a quarterback in a single game.
For their part, the Falcons survived a performance against the Seattle Seahawks that songwriter James Taylor would have called “Fire and Rain.” They jumped out to a 20-point lead on the Seahawks with a quarter to go and somehow squandered it with 31 seconds to go. But quarterback Matt Ryan finally earned his “Matty Ice” moniker, driving down the field to set up a game-winning 49-yard field goal.
The question on everyone’s mind is did Atlanta finally get the postseason monkey off their back — or did they just get lucky? The bettors don’t seem to have much faith in the Falcons, as they are underdogs at home, something that has only happened 14 times in conference championship history, the last being when the Chicago Bears hosted the Green Bay Packers in 2010.
Atlanta must prove their mettle if they are to earn a trip to the Super Bowl in New Orleans.
Atlanta offensive line vs. San Francisco pass rush
San Francisco linebacker Aldon Smith is one of the best pass rushers in the NFL but relies upon defensive end Justin Smith to him up. Atlanta’s offensive done a better job of stopping the pass rush lately, but the 49ers have the edge.
Advantage: San Francisco
Atlanta pass rush vs. San Francisco offensive Line
Defensive end John Abraham is Atlanta’s best pass rusher but is grappling with an injured ankle. San Francisco’s offensive line is perhaps the most physical in the league and is stocked with Pro Bowl-caliber talent. The challenge for Atlanta won’t be getting to and sacking Kaepernick, though; it will be in containing him and not allowing him to break off big runs.
Advantage: San Francisco
Atlanta secondary vs. San Francisco receivers
Wide receiver Michael Crabtree is good but not great, Randy Moss isn’t as effective as he used to be, and Mario Manningham is out for the season. Between cornerbacks Asante Samuel and Dunta Robinson and safeties William Moore and Thomas DeCloud, the Falcons should be able to handle the wide receivers. The player to watch will be tight end Vernon Davis. After all, if Seattle’s Zach Miller could break off 150 yards against the Falcons, what will Davis accomplish? My instinct tells me that Miller broke free because the Falcons were preoccupied with Seattle’s other major weapon. I think a defensive guru like Mike Nolan will make it a lot tougher for Davis this week.
Atlanta receivers vs. San Francisco Secondary
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. A receiving corps with the likes of Julio Jones, Roddy White, Harry Douglas, tight end Tony Gonzalez, and running back Jacquizz Rodgers has a leg up on almost any defense. Admittedly, the 49ers are stocked with good safeties, but they have benefited immensely from San Francisco’s elite front seven. Their cornerbacks are little better than average, and I expect to see While and Jones to exploit their weaknesses.
Atlanta rushing attack vs. San Francisco run defense
Running back Michael Turner has been inconsistent all season and will be going up against a San Francisco front seven that is unmatched right now. Hopefully, the Burner can make an appearance for a second consecutive week.
Advantage: San Francisco
Atlanta run defense vs. San Francisco rushing attack
Atlanta has been inconsistent against the run, but they did an excellent job containing Marshawn Lynch last week. Unfortunately, San Francisco’s offensive line is better than Seattle’s; it will be tough to keep Frank Gore in check.
Advantage: San Francisco
How the 49ers can win:
- Collect sacks on Ryan.
- Protect the football.
- Make third-down stops.
- Allow Kaepernick to shine.
How the Falcons can win:
- Pass the football.
- Win the time of possession battle.
- Be opportunistic with turnovers.
- Avoid turning the ball over.
Unfortunately, in the interest of journalistic integrity, I have to look at the facts and pick with my head, not with my heart. The fact is the 49ers have better the offensive lines and defensive lines, and football games are won in the trenches.. Kaepernick has shown something special to him as well. I said after the 49ers’ thumping of the Chicago Bears game that he was legitimate and that he would turn out to be a future MVP. There is a reason why the Falcons are the largest home underdogs in conference championship history at 4.5 points.
Nevertheless, the Falcons have a puncher’s chance because of their receivers. I just hope that Rocky Balboa can take the fight to Apollo Creed and that this fight winds up more like Rocky II than Rocky.
Final score: 49ers 31, Falcons 28
About the author
1. Denial- The Falcons can still win this game
2. Anger- The Falcons were robbed by that dumbass ref
3. Barganing- Come on God let the Falcons win
4. Depression- This fucking sucks I'm gonna go take a nap
5. Acceptance- Ok we need to get stronger O-Line and better D-Line players
The Falcons may need to take a page out of the Vikings playbook and trade for a Jared Allen type of player
@Joedirte I wish Green Bay would have traded a WR to Miami for Wake :)
Boomer Esiason can suck my ass, too.
In the pregame, he was crowing about Brady being the best QB ever to play the game.
Pffttt!! He's damn good, but he's always had a great team and great coaches.
My 75 year-old mother runs better than he does.... and WTF was up with that pussy slide and then kicking the defender?
I would have preferred the Falcons as winners, but Matty Shinebox showed up, again.
I don't like either Harbaugh.
However, I'm very glad Tommy Fucking Brady is out.
Maybe next year ... for the Packers and the Falcons
@SDL The great Refs blew a call. But the NFL wanted the Harbaugh bowl for all the extra ratings it will get. plus West Coast vs East Coast means more ratings as well. I dont know I gotta make some sort of excuse we had the chance he made the play and the 49ers got away with a defensive holding play. Matt Ryan did fuck up on that bone headed botched snap where they would have gotten a FG if nothing else
@Joedirte & Miracle Man
I actually think Ryan will be better than Romo, someday. He's got a tendency to choke, but it's hard to deny he's getting better as time goes by
Well, nobody chokes like Romo... except maybe ManCans (or SlapNutz against the Packers)
But, a pick and a fumble in the NFCCG will do it against a good opponent
@Miracle Man @Joedirte @SDL The thing was they take the foot off the pedal. But they dont have the D-Line that gets penetration against the Run and Pass and that allows offenses to have time to do what they need to do. Plus we need a stronger O-Line. But if you look at Peyton Manning and Ryan and their 1st 5 years in the league are almost the same. Maybe he is gonna need a Tony Dungy to come there and take them to the next level as well
@SDL Ryan is Romo 2.0
I could be up here complaining that there was defensive holding on that 4th down play but we love the regular refs now?
@Joedirte Well you were gifted that Douglas "catch"
thank god NE didn't win...i don't know if i could handle all the douchebaggery involved for the Superbowl if both John Harbourgh and Belechick won...
My wife expressed disappointment in Houndog's avatar. She didn't like the way there are no shadows on the ass. heh
@Nonstopdrivel pobody's nerfect
@EvilDonkey Nope. She likes girls, but she likes girls who look real. I tried to explain that the photographer used a lot of spot lighting to avoid the shadows, but that was not a satisfactory explanation apparently. An ass should have shadows to accentuate the curves in her book.
Brady put his cleats into some guys thigh. What a fucking Prick.
Needless to say, this town is going apeshit.
@EvilDonkey I was a little surprised that there appears to be no tripping rule for QBs.
BRADY'S A CHEATER!!! A CHEATA, I TELL YOU!!!! DIRTY! HE AIMED FOR HIS BALLS!
I enjoyed the outcome of tonight's game. There were quite a few calls that were questionable that went in favor of the Patriots, but the Ravens won anyway, and were able to pull away because of some stellar defensive effort.
@DWargs the most questionable call of the game was the "fumble," and that went BAL way. But NE left too many points on the board early, and it cost them dearly
@DWargs i can't complain, i really think the best 2 teams left won, and i think it gives us the bet matchup overall
@Mr._Horse True, but you could say that about a lot of plays in many different games. The fact remains that the Ravens were the ones that came out on top, and they were the ones who beat the Patriots by 15. The Ravens earned their spot in the Super Bowl.