USA TODAY Sports
The NFL season has done its best imitation of Darwinian selection. The San Francisco 49ers travel to Atlanta to play the Falcons, after upstart teams like Seattle and Washington fell by the wayside. With the league's best win/loss record, the Falcon's hope home field advantage will provide the boost they'll need to notch a second post season win for the first time in years.
The 49ers started the season a favorite to make it to the Super Bowl, but had to wait till the last week of the season to know if they'd won the NFC West. Boasting a powerful defense, their physical style has taken it's toll. In 2011, this same defense gave up only a couple rushing touchdowns. This season, they've had a few problems. While still a dominant defense, they've shown cracks in their armor.
The Falcon's don't match up well against the 49ers defense, or at least it seems that way to me. Yet, Matt Ryan found a way to master a similar defense last week when the beat Seattle. San Francisco's offense isn't going to wow anyone, but with a healthy Frank Gore, and a run capable quarterback in Colin Kaepernick, the ground game appears to be the way to a championship for the 49ers.
Favored by 4 points - and a 49 point over/under for the game - the 49ers may be hoping numerology is on their side. I'm not all that sure this game will be a high scoring. While the Falcon's offense is able enough in the scoring category, they face a defense that's going to give up points grudgingly. The San Francisco offense is self-limiting, with fewer weapons than they'd like to have going into a NFC Championship game. To add to the drama of the game, San Francisco's Michael Crabtree has been question by the police regarding a sexual assault situation that happened after the 49ers beat the Green Bay Packers. They'll need Crabtree, who seems to be Kaepernick's favorite target.
The Atlanta defense has had some key injuries. They'll be up against one of the best offensive lines in the NFL, and Gore could have a big day against their 21st ranked rush defense. Atlanta should be able to corral Kaepernick, since they've faced Cam Newton twice and RGIII once this season. OK, maybe not, but their experience with running quarterbacks should count for something, right?
So sit back and relax. There are only two more games after this one ( I don't count the Pro-Bowl), so join me in crying while I cheer for the NFC West's San Francisco 49ers... Tally-Ho!