After his record-setting performance last week against the Green Bay Packers, San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick has been the talk of the NFL and received an honor of sorts, even if it's one that superstitious fans of the 49ers could have done without.
Kaepernick was featured on the cover of this week's edition of Sports Illustrated, bringing to mind the infamous "cover jinx" that has plagued teams and athletes from all sports for decades.
However, before 49ers fans start burning magazines and consulting witch doctors about reverse-jinxes, it's important to note one important fact.
Colin Kaepernick already has a jinx-buster at his disposal this week: The Atlanta Falcons defense.
Simply put, Kaepernick and the read-option is a matchup nightmare for the Falcons, who have struggled mightily on defense against mobile quarterbacks all season long, including in last week's win over the Seattle Seahawks.
In that game, quarterback Russell Wilson piled up nearly 450 total yards of offense against the Falcons. Earlier this season, Carolina Panthers signal-caller Cam Newton racked up over 400 yards of total offense in a win over Atlanta, including this 72-yard touchdown run.
Contrast that run with Kaepernick's eerily similar 56-yard score against the Green Bay Packers a week ago, and it's easy to see where the Falcons could be in trouble.
The problem is only exacerbated by the ankle injury suffered by Atlanta defensive end John Abraham. Not only will the Falcons' top pass rusher be playing at well less than 100 percent, but that places a great deal more pressure on fellow end Kroy Biermann, both to diagnose the read-option and get after Kaepernick.
This isn't to say that Biermann isn't a capable pro, but he was already going to have his hands full with Pro Bowl tackle Joe Staley.
It's not going to be a walk in the park, however. Kaepernick is still a second-year pro making his first career road playoff start, and against a rowdy Seattle crowd in Week 16, Kaepernick had by far his worst game of the season in a blowout loss.
However, as Steve Corkran of The San Jose Mercury-News relayed, if Kaepernick is feeling any pressure, he's not showing it. As he said, he's treating this week like any other game.
"It's going to be the same routine we always do," Kaepernick said, when asked about his preparation between now and Sunday's NFC Championship Game against the Atlanta Falcons. "It's just going to be in Atlanta, and not here."
If Kaepernick really is that calm and can go into the Georgia Dome and play his game, then the Falcons are going to be hard-pressed to stop him, and the San Francisco 49ers are going to play in their sixth Super Bowl.
Not even Sports Illustrated can jinx that.
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