With one of the greatest playoff weekends in the books, we now look forward to Championship weekend. We start with the NFC as the San Francisco 49ers travel to take on the Atlanta Falcons in a matchup of the top two seeds. Can Matt Ryan lead Atlanta to unknown territory? Or will Colin Kaepernick continue to make Jim Harbaugh look like a genius? On Sunday, we will find all this out. But, in the meantime, here’s my take on it.
NFC Championship: January 20th. 3:00pm in Atlanta, Georgia
San Francisco 49ers @ Atlanta Falcons
Matt Ryan has finally lifted the playoff monkey off his back. Although he waited until the final thirty seconds, he still has won his first playoff game. Few things in football are more exciting than watching a team drive down the field and score a game-winning touchdown or kick a game-winning field goal. That is when legacies are created. Tom Brady, Adam Vinateri, Peyton Manning, Eli Manning. These guys, to name a few, have made a name for themselves for thriving when the game is on the line, specifically in the playoffs. Ryan, who led the Falcons on a remarkable drive to win on Sunday, is not quite in this category. But, he’s close.
The Falcons have won seven games this season by 7 or fewer points and Ryan has certainly been the catalyst in leading them on the game-winning drives. The Falcons have won seven games this season, including the playoffs, on game-winning drive in the 4th quarter or overtime. And now he’s done it in the playoffs. Against the 6th best passing defense.
However, the 49ers are a whole different defense to conquer. 4th best pass defense in the league and they have a scary pass rush to handle. San Francisco boasts six players on their defense that were named to the Pro Bowl this year. Additionally, San Francisco can win games on the road, whereas Seattle struggled on the road this season. This is a 49ers team with playoff experience too. They have a taste of what it’s like to be almost there. And they have that sour taste of losing the NFC Championship still lingering from last January. Most of those guys are back and hungrier than before.
They do have a new quarterback under center but as he showed last week, Colin Kaepernick is not scared of anything or anyone. Not scared of the Green Bay Packers. Not scared of being opposite Aaron Rodgers. Not scared of his first game in the playoffs. Not scared of losing his job. He is one confident, and the Packers will tell you, athletic quarterback that has his coach, teammates, and everyone in San Francisco believing in him. Come Sunday, we will see him lead the 49ers into Atlanta and out of the Georgia Dome with a win as the 49ers continue onto New Orleans. I’ll take the Niners in a shootout.
San Francisco 49ers 37, Atlanta Falcons 34.
This article was written by Kenny Decker. You can follow him on Twitter @Inside__Sports