2012-2013 NFC Championship Game Preview
So here we are, championship weekend is almost here as we take a look at the NFC Championship Game between the number two seed San Francisco 49ers and the number one seed Atlanta Falcons.
When and Where: Monday, 21 January, at The Georgia Dome, Atlanta, GA.
Coverage: LIVE 7.00am AESTon Foxtel ESPN & One HD.
After what was quite frankly the best divisional round games for a long time can this match up live up to expectations? Let’s take a look.
The San Francisco 49ers (11-4-1) come into this game on the back of a very impressive win against the Green Bay Packers, with Colin Kaepernick putting on a record-breaking performance while running the ball himself (181 yards, two touchdowns). The 49ers will look to him again to lead the offence with his dual-threat skills.
Look for the second year quarterback to get the ball to wide receiver Michael Crabtree on those key 3rd down situations. Crabtree had a terrific game against the Packers with 119 yards and two touchdowns and looks to have finally developed into WR1 the 49ers drafted him to be.
The 49ers veteran runningback, Frank Gore, also looks to be in form after a 119 yard rushing performance with one touchdown. The Falcons will surely have their hands full with the 49ers offensive weapons.
However, that’s not all the 49ers have on the table, the 3rd ranked overall San Francisco defence — despite playing an injured Justin Smith — is still a major strength for this team. Expect veteran LB Patrick Willis and NaVorro Bowman to be seen all over the field.
The Atlanta Falcons (13-3), and perhaps in particular quarterback Matt Ryan got a huge monkey off their back after their last gasp win last week against the Seattle Seahawks. This should mean that the Falcons will be able to play with more confidence in this game, however their 24th defence has a big task at hand in trying to at least limit Colin Kaepernick.
This task seems even more ominous when you consider their best pass-rusher, John Abraham, should still be limited with an ankle injury. Abraham had 10 sacks and six forced fumbles this season, but only managed 15 snaps against the Seahawks before aggravating his left ankle.
Their offence however could cause a lot of problems for the 49ers vaunted defence. Look for the match up between the Falcons receivers and the 49ers secondary to be key, with major contributions from both Julio Jones and Roddy White. Lest we forget veteran tight end Tony Gonzalez, who only last week earned his first playoff win in a career lasting 16 years.
The 49ers have lost the last four match ups between the two sides, three of those games were decided by four points or less.
The last time a road team won an NFC Championship game in a dome was in the 1998-99 season, when the Falcons won in Minnesota.
Final Word and Prediction: Not many will give the Falcons a chance in this game, including me. Sorry Falcons fans but I can’t see the Falcons defense doing enough to stop the 49ers offense. The 49ers to win 28-20.