The San Francisco 49ers probably turned in the best team performance of these playoffs in a 45-31 win over the Green Bay Packers in a game that was not as close as the final score, and quarterback Colin Kaepernick turned in the best individual performance, setting an NFL record for most rushing yards by a quarterback in any NFL game with 181 to go along with his 263 passing yards.
The Falcons meanwhile did their best to blow a 27-7 lead to start the fourth quarter vs. Seattle. In fact, Atlanta relinquished the lead 28-27 with 31 seconds left, needing a game-winning field goal from Matt Bryant with eight seconds remaining. The 49ers are now -3½ in the NFC Championship Game with the total set at 48.
49ERS – FALCONS NFC CHAMPIONSHIP BETTING LINE:
1. Why San Francisco will cover the spread: The 49ers will cover this spread if they can apply pressure on Matt Ryan with Justin Smith playing with practically one arm as he recovers from a partially torn triceps. The great heroics of Kaepernick last week helped cover up the fact that the Niners only recorded one sack on Aaron Rodgers, and the last thing San Francisco wants to do is give Ryan time to throw to his great receivers, as Ryan did have unexpected success vs. the great Seattle secondary last week. A second key is Frank Gore running as well as he did last week when he rushed for 119 yards, as that prevented the Packers from keying on Kaepernick on his option reads, and the whole world saw how that turned out.
2. Why Atlanta will cover the spread: Two keys to Atlanta covering this spread are directly tied to the two aforementioned 49er keys. First they must do their best to keep Kaepernick in the pocket and not let him turn the corner on option reads like he did all night long last week, even if it means putting an extra man in the box and living with Kaepernick trying to win this game with his arm. Secondly, Ryan must have success passing to his Big Three of Julio Jones, Roddy White and Tony Gonzalez vs. an elite pass defense, and on a related note, the Falcons must run the ball as surprisingly well as they did last week, as that is what allowed Ryan to succeed.
3. Total Talk: The Atlanta defense did play soft in the second half last week and frankly we feel that while Kaepernick won’t have 181 rushing yards again, we still expect another huge game from him because we do not expect the Atlanta run defense to shut down Gore, thus making the read option basically unstoppable if run correctly because the Falcons cannot cheat toward Kaepernick or Gore.
We expect the 49ers to represent the NFC in the Super Bowl, but we do see a high scoring game as Ryan again figures to hit on some long passes with Smith obviously limited, slowing down the entire San Francisco pass rush.
4. Betting Trends for 49ers/Falcons: The 49ers are 24-11-1 ATS in their L/36 games overall and the ‘over’ is 5-0 in San Francisco’s L/5 games overall, as well as 4-0 in Atlanta’s L/4 playoff games.
San Francisco 31 – Atlanta 24
GUESS THE SCORE OF THE 49ERS – FALCONS GAME BELOW