NFC Championship Game (see past results): San Francisco 49ers 27, Atlanta Falcons 17
There’s a fine line between committed and stubborn. I was committed to my preseason NFC champion pick of the Packers last weekend and stubborn in my reluctance to buy into the Falcons. This earned me losses in both of those games last weekend, as the Falcons pulled out a victory from the jaws of defeat, while the Packers defense forgot to the board the flight to San Fran, allowing some record-setting offensive output to the 49ers in their loss.
What seemed apparent though in watching both games is that the 49ers seemed ready for the Super Bowl, and I still have some doubts about the Falcons. I have not been one of those Falcons doubters who say “they have to prove it” with a playoff win or a Super Bowl, etc. I simply have not liked the construct of this team. The best adjective I can come up with -- the Falcons has been fragile, which is the antithesis of the 49ers, who are about as durable and tough a team there is the NFL.
For all the faults of Mike Singletary, he did add talent to the roster and brought in tough players into the 49ers system, such as acquiring Justin Smith from the Bengals, drafting Mike Iupati and Anthony Davis to fill holes in the offensive line, and grabbing raw, but now one of the best linebackers in the NFL in Navarro Bowman too. Albeit it took JimHarbaugh to help this team to excel, he was fortunate to inherit one the most talent-laden rosters in the NFL.
Harbaugh added more tough, Pro Bowl-caliber players on defense, like Whitner and Goldson to the back end of the secondary. Now installing Colin Kaepernick at QB, the 49ers offense has developed to new levels and helped former first-round draft pick, Michael Crabtree play to his potential. The 49ers have arguably more talent across both sides of the ball than any team in the NFL.
For all the commentary about how Matt Ryan hadn’t won in the playoffs until last week and how the Falcons come up short in big games, the reality has been they aren’t a team with depth. Their most talented players are limited to a few skills positions (QB, Tight End, and WR) – their team talent is great for fantasy football, but is not rounded enough to win the playoffs in the NFL.
Ultimately the 49ers have too much talent - I expect them to win with ease.