This past weekend’s NFC Divisional Championship games were both instant classics. Colin Kaepernick had a record-setting day as the San Francisco 49ers dominated the Green Bay Packers and The Atlanta Falcons jumped out to a huge lead in the first half, only to see it disappear late, but were still able to hold on for the victory; thanks to a last second field goal. We’re now just one game away from Super Bowl XLVII, and it will come down to an epic matchup this weekend at the Georgia Dome between the No. 1 and No. 2 Seeds in the NFC.
The 49ers played extremely well against the Packers in every aspect: their running game was outstanding (and record breaking), Kaepernick was able to overcome an early pick-six to have a good day through the air and the defense did a great job of disrupting and shutting down Aaron Rodgers.
In order to win and advance they’ll need to have solid efforts once again on all three fronts. Kaepernick doesn’t need to have another record day, but the read-option worked well for Seattle against Atlanta and it was the 49ers’ bread and butter last week; they’ll need to use it frequently to eat up yards and open up the passing game for big plays again this week. Atlanta was finally able to have success running the ball against the Seattle Seahawks talented defense, something the 49ers will have to shut down. If they can force Atlanta to go one dimensional, they can rush Matt Ryan and create turnovers.
The Falcons completely dominated the first half against the Seahawks, with a 20-0 lead heading into halftime, but in the second half the wheels fell off. They looked like a completely different team, and were lucky for the last second field goal opportunity.
If Atlanta hopes to make it to the Super Bowl, their defense is going to have to do their best to contain Kaepernick and Frank Gore. Kaepernick is a good passer, but the 49ers offense will suffer if he’s not running the ball effectively.
On the offensive side of the ball, The Falcons will need Michael Turner and Jacquizz Rodgers to have big games once again. Ryan will have to be on top of his game and get the ball out quickly before San Francisco’s defenders can get through the offensive line and in his face.
In the end, we’re going to be treated to a great game, regardless of the outcome. The 49ers may be the favorite, but don’t forget that the Falcons are the No. 1 Seed. You don’t get there by playing poorly; they only lost three games in the regular season.