NFC Conference Championship Pick: 49ers over Falcons

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NFC Conference Championship Pick: 49ers over Falcons
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

Each Tuesday, WhatIfSports.com's NFL simulation engine will provide you with predictions, box scores and statistics for every NFL game that week. The NFL simulation engine generates detailed information including the home team's chances of winning (Home Win %), average score and comprehensive box score link. If you want to share your new found NFL knowledge with friends and family, make sure to check out our NFL Widgets on the WhatIf To Go page or click on the social networking share bar located at the top and bottom of the article.

The statistical inputs to the thousands of NFL games simulated are based on rigorous analysis of each team's roster, depth chart and statistically based player ranking. Roster modifications have been made for injuries and suspensions and those players are not part of their team's game simulation.

To account for injuries and roster moves announced late in the week, we will be re-simulating some games on Thursdays throughout the 2012 NFL season.

Check out our 2012 NFL Season-to-Date page to follow our accuracy week-to-week and find Locks and Upsets of the Week.

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