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San Francisco 49ers vs. Atlanta Falcons NFC Championship Preview

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - JANUARY 12:  Quarterback Colin Kaepernick #7 of the San Francisco 49ers runs the ball against nose tackle B.J. Raji #90 of the Green Bay Packers during the NFC Divisional Playoff Game at Candlestick Park on January 12, 2013 in San Francisco, California.  (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
Stephen Dunn/Getty Images
Ralph LongoAnalyst IIIJanuary 17, 2013

On Sunday the NFC Championship will be decided between the streaking San Francisco 49ers, and the Atlanta Falcons who are coming off a thrilling victory over the Seattle Seahawks. It's a strong matchup between two dynamic offenses that should be a fun one for the fans. 

Who's got the upper hand in this game, you might ask?  

The San Francisco 49ers are coming off a wildly impressive victory against the Green Bay Packers. Sophomore standout Colin Kaepernick played about as well as a QB can, accounting for an NFL record 181 rushing yards and four total touchdowns (per ESPN). You got the feeling that if he tried to, he could've rushed for 300 yards; he was just unstoppable. 

What was even more impressive was that he threw a pick-six early in the first quarter, but was unshaken and got right back in the saddle to put on a historic performance. Kaepernick and the offense are no doubt riding high after piling up nearly 600 yards of total offense and 45 points. 

The defense looked good as well, totally shutting down Green Bay in the second half except for a late garbage-time TD, which is difficult to do against Aaron Rodgers

If Kaepernick and Frank Gore establish the running game early, it's going to be nearly impossible for this team to be beaten, no matter who they play. I mean, Kaepernick was putting on a show, he was almost untouched even though he carried the ball 16 times. 

Atlanta needs to shut down Kaepernick, and punish him every time he leaves the pocket. They need to make him think twice every time he tucks the ball to run, or else they've got no shot. The way Kaepernick played on Saturday seriously made me believe he's got the ability to be the best all-around player in the entire league, he was that good. 

The way I see it, the Atlanta defense is just going to have to totally sell out and spy Kaepernick with one or two guys on every play to take his legs out of the equation. Make him beat you with his arm, because he's shown he's more than capable of doing it with his legs. 

It's a risky strategy, but it's their only chance. The running game has to be stopped, no matter what the cost might be. Expect some big plays out of Michael Crabtree in this one due to a lot of one-on-one coverage. 

Matt Ryan and the offense of the Falcons need to score and score big to have a shot in this ballgame. If they can limit the turnovers, and score touchdowns in the red zone, they'll have a shot to win in a shootout type of game. Roddy White and Julio Jones need to come up big and make some plays as well.

If they fall behind early on though, this one's all but over. 

Atlanta is a good team, but they should've lost last week after blowing a three-touchdown lead to Seattle. They won't get it done this week. I never thought at the beginning of the season that I'd say this, but Colin Kaepernick is just too good right now.

He'll lead this team to the Super Bowl, making Jim Harbaugh look like a genius in the process. 

Final Score: San Francisco wins, 37-27

 

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