USA Today Sports

NFC Championship betting preview: 49ers at Falcons

San Francisco 49ers at Atlanta Falcons (+4, 48.5)

The San Francisco 49ers are returning to the NFC championship game for the second time in as many years, but this time the offense is significantly different. Colin Kaepernick put together one of the most dynamic performances for a quarterback in playoff history to help topple Green Bay on Saturday in the divisional round and will be looking to repeat the effort when the 49ers visit the top-seeded Atlanta Falcons on Sunday.

The Falcons got a strong performance of their own from quarterback Matt Ryan in the divisional round but will be home underdogs against San Francisco after squandering a big lead and needing a late field goal to survive the Seattle Seahawks. Atlanta is 8-1 at home, including the playoff victory, but has serious questions about its defense after surrendering 21 fourth-quarter points in the divisional win. Kaepernick has proven he is equally comfortable throwing the ball and pulling it down to run - a combination Atlanta struggled against with Russell Wilson last weekend.

TV: 3 p.m. ET, FOX.

LINE: The 49ers opened as 3.5-point road favorites has have been bet up as high as -4. The total has moved from 48 to 48.5.

CONSENSUS:
58 percent of Covers Consensus bets are on the Niners while 65 percent are on the over.

ABOUT THE 49ERS (12-4-1, 10-7 ATS):
Kaepernick faced the questions that any first-time starter faces going into his first playoff game and answered every one against the Packers. After throwing an interception on his first series, Kaepernick set a playoff record for rushing yards by a quarterback with 181 and passed for 276, totaling four touchdowns along the way. The 25-year-old made a strong connection with wide receiver Michael Crabtree and helped open things up on the ground for Frank Gore, who rushed for over 100 yards (119) for the first time since Week 7. Defensively, San Francisco finished third in the NFL during the regular season but showed some cracks in the first half against Aaron Rodgers and company in the divisional round. Defensive tackle Justin Smith is dealing with a torn triceps and the 49ers struggled at times to get pressure on Rodgers.

ABOUT THE FALCONS (14-3, 9-7-1 ATS): Ryan does not have the same ability to escape the pocket that Rodgers has and will need more from his offensive line against the San Francisco pass rush. Ryan finally proved he could win a playoff game last weekend, throwing three touchdown passes and driving Atlanta for the game-winning field goal in the final seconds. Overlooked is the fact that the Falcons’ defense put Ryan in the position to come back by breaking down in the fourth quarter. Ranked 24th in the regular season, Atlanta’s defense allowed Wilson to pass for 385 yards and rush for another 60 while squandering a 20-point lead. Defensive end John Abraham, who will be one of the keys to keeping Kaepernick in the pocket, tweaked his ankle against the Seahawks and is listed as questionable for this week, though the Falcons expect him to play. Atlanta has had trouble with mobile quarterbacks like Wilson and Cam Newton, who used a similar read-option offense to put up 58 points in two regular-season games.

TRENDS:

* Under is 4-1 in the last five meetings.
* Underdog is 9-3 ATS in their last 12 meetings.
* 49ers are 24-11-1 ATS in their last 36 games overall.
* Falcons are 0-5 ATS in their last five playoff games.

EXTRA POINTS:

1. The 49ers (1995) and the Falcons (1999) have gone a combined 32 years without a Super Bowl appearance.

2. The teams have not met since the 2010 regular season, when Ryan led a game-winning drive for a field goal with two seconds left in a 16-14 triumph. Atlanta has taken four straight in the series.

3. San Francisco LT Joe Staley suffered a bruised arm in the divisional round and is listed as probable for Sunday.

If you have any feedback or suggestions for our Editorial Team, please contact us at Editorial

            share   SHARE   rss   RSS FEED   email   EMAIL   print   PRINT
Hide All Responses
avatar

Posted by Michael_T
1 year ago

On paper this game should be over by halftime. However, many of us know that after a QB has such a phenomenal game like Kaepernick did lack week they frequently have an unspectacular game the next time out -- especially on the road. The analysts say Atlanta doesn't tackle very well. That could suggest a huge margin of victory for the 49ers much like Alabama vs. Notre Dame. Good luck everybody.
avatar

Posted by Raisethis2
1 year ago

Last week Atlanta's most glaring flaw was exploited when their pass rush couldn't get near Seattle's Russell the entire game. They were getting pounded the entire game until they got very lucky at the end. San Fran has a newer Quarterback who still depends on his reflex to run. He'll have huge holes to run through today even if Atlanta keeps someone in to "spy" on him. This will result in yards. Just not certain it will result in scoring. I love San Fran here, but not going to risk a bundle on a QB that can get rattled.
avatar

Posted by Datpro23
1 year ago

San Fran Big!!!!!!
         1      
You are currently not logged in.
Login | Signup | Help
You must be logged in to post a comment.

Top Response

Posted by Datpro23
1 year ago

"San Fran Big!!!!!!"