Reasons why the 9ers shouldn't be the favorite:
- Simple. We are playing on the road in a noisy indoor stadium. Interestingly, the 49ers haven't won a road playoff game since 1989 at Soldier Field (Harbaugh was the backup Bears QB).
- We haven't won 3 straight games all year. This is the 3rd game. Unlike last year, we are susceptible to lapses in concentration.
- Our defense has been susceptible lately as well. Justin Smith is not 100%.
- Kaepernick is starting just his 9th game of his career. Matt Ryan is starting his 82nd game.
- Atlanta was up 27-7 on Seattle's vaunted defense going into the 4th quarter.
- Atlanta outrushed Seattle 167 yards to 123.
- Atlanta's receiving corp is much more experienced and prolific than ours. They were 6th in passing yards this year. We were 23rd.
- Atlanta's won 13 games in the regular season, losing only 3, including an irrelevant last game of the season.
- David Akers has been unreliable.
- We are a 4 point overdog, never a good motivational position to be in, especially on the road.
What do we have to do to win:
- Our offensive line should dominate their inferior rush defense. Kaepernick and Gore both need big days.
- Our offense needs to control the clock and limit their possessions, just as we did against Green Bay's defense.
- Our TEs need to exploit their linebackers/safeties for big chunks of yards.
- Our defensive line needs to get constant pressure on the QB without the aid of blitzes.
- Our secondary needs to limit pass interference penalties on that indoor fast track.
- Our kicker needs to be automatic under 50 yards.
Before the playoffs began, if you asked me which teams I feared more out of GB, Seattle and Atlanta, the Falcons would have been last. I figured if they even reached this round, we would crush 'em by double digits. Now, after a week of being widely panned by national critics, the 49ers may be facing a highly motivated home team. Also, with all the publicity that Kaepernick has received, will he be able to play with this new pressure? Will the team keep its concentration?
I think so. Last year we were happy to be here. This year, its all business.
49ers 38 - Falcons 24
Also, lets go Ravens. I'm holding out hope for an upset, but I think NE wins 31-17.