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San Francisco 49ers @ Atlanta Falcons NFL Preview

Game preview time, none better at analysing from a betting-related perspective as Andy Richmond - @bickley14. The full preview for this game can be found at NFL Insight.

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NFL Preview – Conference Championships 2013

Game Keys:

Can Atlanta ”control” a mobile quarterback after struggling with them this year

Atlanta to run the ball as well as last week to give them balance on a tough 49ers D

Atlanta must be able to tackle far better in the second level of the defence; missed tackles will spell big trouble and big yardage gains for the 49ers

49ers to make more use of tight end Vernon Davis

San Francisco to create dynamic 1-on-1 matchups for their wide receivers, especially Crabtree

Atlanta to use zone blitzes to create pressure and confuse Kaepernick

The battle in the trenches will prove vital, particularly the protection of Matt Ryan

Ryan must stay patient against the San Francisco base Cover2 man defence

Atlanta wide receivers White and Jones must win their battle against the 49ers corners

Atlanta need a big game from Tony Gonzalez

If field goals are vital the Falcons have the clear edge in that department

Key players: San Francisco (Michael Crabtree) – Atlanta (Tony Gonzalez)

Game Statistics

No. 1 seeds are 6-0 in conference championships in the past seven postseasons (2005 to 2011). The last to lose was the 2004 Pittsburgh Steelers, who lost to the New England Patriots 41-27.

The Falcons have won four straight games against the 49ers, including two with Matt Ryan as their starting quarterback (45-10 in 2009 and 16-14 in 2010). The Falcons’ last loss to the 49ers was a 37-31 setback in 2001, one of two overtime losses they suffered against the 49ers that season.

49ers coach Jim Harbaugh is the fourth coach to reach the AFC or NFC Championship Game in each of his first two seasons as an NFL head coach. The other three are George Seifert, Barry Switzer and Rex Ryan. Ryan is the only one from that trio who did not get to the Super Bowl at least once.

Colin Kaepernick has averaged 8.7 yards per rush, best of any quarterback with 30 rushes (including playoffs) this season. Including the playoffs, the Falcons have allowed 8.9 yards per rush to quarterbacks this season, the worst rate in the NFL (excluding kneel-downs). The Falcons twice got shredded by Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton, who ran for 202 yards and two touchdowns on 18 carries in two meetings this season. Kaepernick’s legs have helped him to an 82.8 Total QBR the past nine weeks, the best in the NFL in that span.

Since Kaepernick became the starting quarterback in Week 11, Michael Crabtree ranks fifth in the league with 50 catches, fourth with 714 receiving yards and tied for second with seven touchdowns. In Weeks 1-10 Crabtree tied for 41st in the league with 59 total targets.

Combining regular season and the playoffs, Matt Ryan is 34-6 in home starts in his career. His .850 winning percentage currently ranks second best among quarterbacks whose careers began in the Super Bowl era. The only quarterback better: Tom Brady of the Patriots (86-15, .851).

One other stat to watch on Ryan: He’s completed 70 percent of his passes in the final two minutes of either half this season. Ryan had completed only 50.0 percent of those passes in his first four seasons.

Should the game come down to a field goal, Falcons kicker Matt Bryant should be up to the challenge of trying to make it. Bryant made the game winner in the final seconds of the NFC divisional win over the Seattle Seahawks. The Elias Sports Bureau notes that Bryant was 17-for-18 in regular-season games on go-ahead or game-tying field goal attempts in the final two minutes of the fourth quarter or overtime in his career. That includes a game-winning 43-yard make with two seconds remaining in the last meeting between these teams on Oct. 3, 2010. Bryant’s 94 percent success rate is the best of anyone with at least 15 such attempts in the NFL since 1970.

Our friends at AccuScore ran 10,000 simulations of this game and they gauged it a toss-up. The 49ers won 50.1 percent of the time. The Falcons won 49.9 percent.

Read more including the Game Preview at NFL Insight - the above is just a small part of the overall preview!

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