NFC Conference Championship Pick: 49ers over Falcons

Jake WestrichSenior Writer IJanuary 15, 2013

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - JANUARY 12:  Quarterback Colin Kaepernick #7 of the San Francisco 49ers throws the ball against 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

San Francisco 49ers fans still have the 2012 NFC Championship game fresh in their minds. Kyle Williams' second fumbled punt handed the Giants prime real estate and Lawrence Tynes booted New York into the Super Bowl.

In this year's conference title matchup, Jim Harbaugh turns to Colin Kaepernick to lead his team for a chance to play in a game the franchise hasn't reached since 1995. The "Kaeped Crusader" dominated Green Bay in the NFC Divisional round to the tune of 263 passing yards, 181 rushing yards and four total touchdowns.

Atlanta's Matt Ryan lived up to his cold-blooded nickname facing Seattle. Ryan led the "Dirty Birds" down the field, into field goal range and earned his first playoff win. The Georgia Dome will now host an NFC West throwback rivalry that has provided us with images of Deion Sanders and Andre Rison duking it out.

The matchup to keep an eye on is the Falcons' sixth-ranked pass offense (281.8 passing yards per game) up against San Fran's fourth-ranked pass defense (200.2 passing yards allowed per game). In the three previous one-and-done playoff appearances, Matty Ice failed to throw for over 200 yards. It wasn't until last week when he finally topped that mark with 250 passing yards.

Away games haven't been kind to San Francisco lately. The normally stout defense has allowed an average of 30.6 points per game in the last three road trips (1-2 in those games). Kaepernick's stats outside of Candlestick Park are startling as well. His interception to TD ratio at home is 4:0, but away it's 6:3.

If you throw out Week 17, when the Falcons' starters watched most of the game from the sidelines, Atlanta's only losses come when they allowed 30 or more points per game. In the eight games Kaepernick has started, the Niners averaged 28.6 points per game.

According to the computers, which simulated this game 501 times, San Francisco is victorious 55.9 percent of the time by an average score of 22-20.

NFC Conference Championship: 49ers at Falcons
Matchup Win% Avg Score WIS Interactive
San Francisco 49ers 55.9 22 Boxscore
@ Atlanta Falcons 44.1 20 Simulate Game

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