A pair of division leaders will go head-to-head for the NFC championship on Sunday in Atlanta when the Falcons welcome San Francisco to the Georgia Dome. It’s fairly unusual to see the home team an underdog on the NFL betting in the NFC Championship Game but that’s exactly the case as the No. 1 seed is a home dog to the traveling No. 2 seed.
San Francisco 49ers @ Atlanta Falcons
Sunday, January 20th – 3:00 PM ET
NFL Betting Odds: 49ers -4
How The 49ers Can Win
Colin Kaepernick doesn’t have to set records as he did in Saturday’s 45-31 win over Green Bay, but he does have to be effective on the ground to keep the Falcons off balance because Atlanta’s secondary can be exposed. The defense, especially the secondary, has to be on point because the Falcons’ passing attack is good enough to slice through any defense in the league, whether it is underneath or going deep. But the 49ers need to step up their game on the road, where three of their four losses have come this season.
How The Falcons Can Win
The Falcons got a huge monkey off their backs with a 30-28 win over Seattle at home in which they nearly blew a 20-point lead, but now they have to carry that confidence into the next game and it starts with Matt Ryan, who has the tools and the weapons to be an elite quarterback. Ryan won his first playoff game in four tries, but he doesn’t deserve the “Matty Ice” nickname he has been given just yet. He tore apart an excellent Seattle defense and he’ll have the same task against the 49ers, who are just as good as the Seahawks. Defensively, the Falcons have to keep Kaepernick in the pocket and not let him explode in the running game because the San Francisco is now running the read-option, and that could spring Frank Gore loose as well.
Outlook & Pick
Atlanta has won four of their last five against San Francisco since 2001, including two of three in the Georgia Dome. Four of the five games have been decided by six points or less, and this should be another close game, but the edge has to go to the Falcons. They’re at home, where they have won eight of their nine games so far this season, while the 49ers haven’t been that great on the road. The Falcons also have a more experienced quarterback in Ryan and even though Kaepernick was a monster in his playoff debut, he is still a rookie that only won the starter’s role in the middle of the regular season and the Green Bay game was at home; how will he fare in a hostile Georgia Dome?
The Falcons need to get to the Super Bowl or else, while the 49ers may have another year or two with Kaepernick at the helm, and Ryan will lead the Dirty Birds to the big game as a surprising home underdog on the NFL odds that you should jump all over on Sunday.
Pick: Atlanta +4