49ers vs. Falcons: 5 Key Matchups That Will Determine the NFC Championship Game

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49ers vs. Falcons: 5 Key Matchups That Will Determine the NFC Championship Game
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Colin Kaepernick sprints away from Packers defenders for a 56-yard TD run.

The San Francisco 49ers vs. Atlanta Falcons in the NFC Championship Game promises to be a great game. The winner earns the right to go to the Super Bowl.

The 49ers defeated the Green Bay Packers 45-31, as Niner quarterback Colin Kaepernick enjoyed a coming-out party of great magnitude. Kaepernick ran for an NFL postseason record of 181 yards on 16 carries and two touchdowns. He also threw for 263 yards and two more touchdowns.

What was most impressive about Kaepernick's game was that he did not get rattled after his second pass of the game was intercepted and returned for a Packer touchdown. He was able to stay calm and focused, leading the 49ers to the win. Kaepernick actually outplayed the much more heralded Aaron Rodgers.

The Falcons looked to breeze to a comfortable victory over the Seattle Seahawks in their game this past Sunday. With a 27-7 lead in the third quarter, suddenly the Seahawks woke up.

Seattle scored three straight touchdowns to take the lead 28-27. After kicking off, Atlanta quarterback Matt Ryan made two clutch throws to give the Falcons a field-goal try from 49 yards out.

Matt Bryant actually missed the first time he kicked it, but Seattle coach Pete Carroll had called a time out. Carroll was livid that the officials allowed Bryant to go through with the kick. If that's an issue to Carroll, he needs to call the time out before the center gets over the ball.

Bryant was true on the real attempt, giving the Falcons the victory, 30-28. Atlanta, with the best record in the NFC, has the home-field advantage in this game, and the crowd will be loud and raucous.

There are five crucial matchups that will determine the outcome of this game and give the winner a ticket to the Super Bowl. Let's take a closer look.

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