With the NFC Championship game coming up on Sunday between the San Francisco 49ers and the Atlanta Falcons, we wanted to have every angle of the match-up covered.
To help us out, I had the opportunity to interview Greg Huseth, the editor of Blogging Dirty, Fansided’s site for the Atlanta Falcons, about the game and what he thinks about it all.
Q: How will Matt Ryan and the Falcons be able to put up points against the tenacious 49ers defense?
By doing what they’ve done all season long– making opposing teams defend every blade of grass on the field. What the Falcons lack in the run game, they make up for with screen passes to the receivers and backs, slowing down the pass-rush and making them play sideline-to-sideline. I do believe the Falcons will put points up, the question is just whether or not they can keep up with the 49ers. The Packers scored a good bit, but they couldn’t keep up. I would expect similar offensive approach from Atlanta.
Q: What do you think is the biggest match-up of the game?
Atlanta’s offensive line versus the Niners pass-rush. The entire game for Atlanta offensively comes down to the o-line protecting Ryan in the pocket. When he is clean, as he was last week against Seattle, and when the receivers have time to get open, he’s a dangerous quarterback. If the Falcons can’t keep the Smith brothers off of Ryan, things will become difficult for them.
Q: How will the Falcons stop Colin Kaepernick?
Theoretically, by setting the edge, forcing Kaepernick to read the coverage, and baiting him into mistakes. So much easier said than done. The Niners offensive line is so good that it makes setting the edge very difficult, especially when you have to also defend runs up the middle, and you can’t forget about play-action passing. It’s going to be tough, but if the Falcons can limit the big plays and set the edge consistently, they have a fighting chance.
Q: Who will be the MVP of the game?
It depends on who wins the game. If the Falcons win, it will likely be Jacquizz Rodgers or left tackle Sam Baker. If the 49ers win, there’s no doubt it’ll be Kaepernick.
Q: How can the 49ers contain Julio Jones and Roddy White?
The best way to defend them is to prevent Ryan from getting the ball off untouched to those two. I like San Fran’s secondary, I really do, they have some good players, especially at the safety position. But they can’t hang with White and Jones if Ryan has ample time to throw. The best thing the Niners can do is have Aldon Smith sacking Ryan or on him as he tried to deliver the pass.
Q: Unbiased, who do you think will win the game and why?
San Francisco. With the combination of their great defense, and a high-powered offense led by the explosive Kaepernick, it’s hard to pick against them. I think the Falcons will put up a decent amount of points, but they just won’t be able to keep the Niners off the field on defense. My honest prediction, in my heart of hearts? San Fran 34, Falcons 24.