Saturday, January 19, 2013

NFC Championship Preview: 49ers @ Falcons

     Who would have thought that Colin Kaepernick, the 49ers quarterback who replaced Alex Smith, would be named victor over a more experienced Aaron Rodgers, while posting mind boggling numbers through the air and on the ground with the lights shining bright into the evening last Saturday. Sure, San Francisco's defense allowed 31 points to the Packers offense. However, Green Bay ranked fifth in points per game with 27.1, and clearly, Colin Kaepernick realized the importance of jumping ahead early in the game. San Francisco's next opponent will be the Atlanta Falcons, as Kaepernick must travel to the Georgia Dome, beat Matt Ryan, and then San Francisco will have a shot at its sixth Super Bowl title. Even as number one seed in the NFC, Atlanta has been undervalued by most analysts and football fans. Their quarterback, Matt Ryan, had not won a playoff game up until last Sunday against the Seattle Seahawks, so the fact that the Falcons will be battling for a spot in the Super Bowl comes as a shock. Atlanta's defense has struggled against running quarterbacks, so if Matt Ryan wishes to gain the respect he deserves, he will have to out-duel Colin Kaepernick in the NFC Championship Game.

San Francisco 49ers: Similar to future Hall of Famer Tom Brady, Colin Kaepernick was an overlooked quarterback in the NFL draft, who watched as five other quarterbacks were taken before he was selected by San Francisco. After Alex Smith suffered a concussion in a Week 10 game against the Rams, Colin Kaepernick stepped in, just to lead his team down field for a equalizing field goal. From that game onwards, Colin Kaepernick consistently put up exceptional numbers, running his way into the playoffs, and earning San Francisco a first round bye as the number two seed in the playoffs. Once Green Bay beat Minnesota in the Divisional Round, Aaron Rodgers was set to play Kaepernick in one of the more highly anticipated games of the NFL season. Kaepernick's second pass of the game resulted in a Green Bay pick-six, immediately worrying those rooting for the 49ers. Clearly Kaepernick's confidence was not shaken, as he bounced back with one of the best statistical games by a quarterback in the history of the National Football League. The former Nevada quarterback went on to pass for 263 yards with two touchdowns; however, Kaepernick set an NFL record for the most rushing yards by a quarterback in a single game with 181 yards. His four combined touchdowns largely contributed to a San Francisco win over the Packers. Atlanta should be nervous about San Francisco's running game, where head coach Jim Harbaugh has an infinite amount of possibilities in terms of play calling. San Francisco's defense is feared by many for their insane front 7, including players such as Aldon Smith, Patrick Willis, and returning defensive end Justin Smith. Constant pressure on Matt Ryan should be accounted for, similar to the pass rush seen by Seattle in the Divisional Round. The only thing against San Francisco may be the trouble surrounding wide receiver Michael Crabtree, who is being investigated in a sexual assault case. It is unclear how this team may cope with the mystery surrounding one of their best offensive weapons. If Kaepernick were to play as he did against Green Bay, Atlanta does not stand a chance.

Atlanta Falcons: The Atlanta Falcons almost blew it last Sunday against the Seattle Seahawks, where rookie quarterback Russell Wilson overcame a 20 point deficit early in the third quarter. Eventually, the Atlanta Falcons found themselves down 28-27 with a mere 31 seconds left in the game. "Matty Ice" somehow pulled off the impossible with two straight big completions down field. His march led to a Matt Bryant field goal in what appeared to be the end of the game. However, an extremely controversial onside kick gave Seattle amazing field position, keeping them in the game. In the end, Russell Wilson's Hail Mary pass was unsuccessful, and Matt Ryan finally won his first playoff game. Matt Ryan's performance was not perfect; in fact, far from it. Ryan threw two interceptions and was also unable to maintain a consistent lead over Seattle throughout the duration of the game. With weapon's like Roddy White, Tony Gonzalez, and Julio Jones, Atlanta will likely rely heavily on the deep ball, and less on their ground game. The deciding factor for this team is clearly the amount of rushing yards allowed against Kaepernick in tomorrow's game. Atlanta allowed a combined 202 rushing yards to quarterback Cam Newton in the two games played against Carolina during the regular season, along with another 60 yards to Russell Wilson in the Divisional Round. Kaepernick may be the most challenging scrambler to contain within the pocket. All in all, Atlanta's defense does not match up against the talented San Francisco running game.

Bottom Line: Unless the Falcons somehow found a way to contain both Frank Gore and Colin Kaepernick, San Francisco is bound to be playing in New Orleans this February.
49ers over Falcons 38-23

No comments:

Post a Comment