|NFC Championship Game|
|Last 3 Games||2-1||0||1-2||3-0||28.3||12.3||433.0||(6.7)||1.0||28.7||18.3||320.0||(5.7)||1.7|
|Offense (All Games)||26.0||11.2||20.6||32:07||31-166||(5.3)||18-27||65.5%||209||(7.6)||59-374||(6.4)||(14.4)|
|Opponents Defensive Avg.||21.9||11.3||19.8||30:30||27-122||(4.4)||21-35||59.5%||226||(6.5)||62-348||(5.6)||(15.9)|
|Offense Road Games||24.9||11.2||19.2||31:28||31-148||(4.7)||18-27||65.5%||197||(7.2)||59-345||(5.9)||(13.9)|
|Defense (All Games)||17.9||8.1||17.9||29:37||25-95||(3.8)||21-36||59.9%||203||(5.7)||61-298||(4.9)||(16.7)|
|Opponents Offensive Avg.||23||11.8||19.7||30:11||27-118||(4.3)||21-34||60.6%||225||(6.5)||62-343||(5.5)||(14.9)|
|Defense Road Games||20.2||8.6||20.0||30:21||24-82||(3.4)||25-41||61.0%||234||(5.7)||65-316||(4.9)||(15.6)|
|Stats For (All Games)||0.5||0.5||1.0||0.6||12-4||36.7%||1-0||66.7%||3-73||(24.8)||2-22||(10.2)||7-62|
|Opponents Avg. Stats Against||1||0.6||1.7||2||13-5||38.1%||1-0||48.3%||3-66||(23.4)||20-2||(9.4)||6-53|
|Stats For (Road Games)||0.5||0.7||1.2||0.6||12-5||38.0%||1-0||60.0%||3-79||(30.1)||2-22||(9.3)||8-73|
|Stats Against (All Games)||0.9||0.7||1.6|| ||13-4||33.5%||2-1||57.7%||3-80||(26.2)||2-15||(6.6)||6-46|
|Opponents Avg. Stats For||0.9||0.7||1.6|| ||13-5||37.5%||1-1||50.8%||3-63||(24.1)||21-2||(9.1)||6-53|
|Stats Against (Road Games)||1.0||0.9||1.9|| ||14-4||33.0%||2-1||56.2%||3-72||(26)||2-20||(8.6)||6-50|
|Last 3 Games||2-1||+0.5||1-2||1-2||26.0||14.7||346.3||(5.9)||0.7||22.7||6.3||459.7||(6.7)||2.0|
|Offense (All Games)||26.4||14.2||21.6||30:54||24-92||(3.9)||26-38||68.6%||280||(7.3)||62-372||(6)||(14.1)|
|Opponents Defensive Avg.||24.2||12||20.1||30:13||27-116||(4.3)||22-35||62.2%||242||(7)||62-358||(5.8)||(14.8)|
|Offense Home Games||25.1||13.7||19.9||30:39||24-100||(4.2)||24-37||65.5%||252||(6.8)||61-352||(5.8)||(14)|
|Defense (All Games)||19.2||9.4||19.2||29:06||26-123||(4.8)||21-35||61.5%||250||(7.2)||60-373||(6.2)||(19.4)|
|Opponents Offensive Avg.||23.1||11.2||20.2||30:20||27-115||(4.3)||22-36||60.7%||245||(6.9)||62-360||(5.8)||(15.6)|
|Defense Home Games||18.2||8.4||19.1||29:21||27-126||(4.7)||20-34||60.1%||243||(7.2)||60-369||(6.1)||(20.2)|
|Stats For (All Games)||0.9||0.2||1.2||0.8||13-6||45.6%||0-0||25.0%||2-44||(24)||2-12||(8)||3-25|
|Opponents Avg. Stats Against||0.9||0.6||1.5||1.9||13-5||38.6%||1-0||48.0%||3-61||(23.4)||23-2||(10)||6-51|
|Stats For (Home Games)||1.2||0.2||1.4||0.8||13-5||39.5%||0-0||33.3%||2-43||(24.2)||2-15||(8.4)||4-27|
|Stats Against (All Games)||1.2||0.7||1.9|| ||12-5||40.4%||1-0||42.9%||3-65||(22.5)||2-16||(9.5)||5-40|
|Opponents Avg. Stats For||1||0.6||1.6|| ||13-5||38.9%||1-0||49.0%||3-60||(23)||19-2||(9)||6-53|
|Stats Against (Home Games)||1.4||0.8||2.2|| ||12-4||35.5%||1-0||16.7%||2-61||(24.8)||2-23||(10.4)||6-52|
|Average power rating of opponents played: SAN FRANCISCO 22.4, ATLANTA 19.7|
|11/25/2012||@ NEW ORLEANS||31-21||W||-3||W||50||O||31-144||16-25-231||2||21-59||26-41-231||2|
|12/2/2012||@ ST LOUIS||13-16||L||-7.5||L||41||U||36-148||21-32-191||1||27-85||26-39-208||0|
|12/16/2012||@ NEW ENGLAND||41-34||W||4||W||47.5||O||39-180||14-25-203||2||24-95||36-65-425||4|
|1/20/2013||@ ATLANTA|| || || || || || || || || || || || |
|11/25/2012||@ TAMPA BAY||24-23||W||-1||T||51||U||24-79||26-32-345||2||21-50||20-31-276||0|
|1/20/2013||SAN FRANCISCO|| || || || || || || || || || || || |
|SAN FRANCISCO: Despite adding firepower to their receiving corps, the Niners offense will still be based on the power running game. Their scheme is almost exclusively man blocking and almost all between the tackles. Due to the presence of youngsters Kendall Hunter and LaMichael James, they're unlikely to run Frank Gore into the ground like they have in recent seasons. Assuming he beats out veteran Brandon Jacobs, Hunter is more of a traditional back-up, while James will be the change-of-pace back and should see a lot of his reps on passing downs. There's a good chance Jacobs will earn short-yardage duties. The Niners are also very run-heavy in the red zone, with Gore serving as the team's main option in goal-to-go situations. Head coach Jim Harbaugh and offensive coordinator Greg Roman have built a passing game that will work for quarterback Alex Smith. Most often Michael Crabtree is the first option, as they can get him isolated on the outside. Vernon Davis came on strong late once he picked up the offense, and he'll be used deeper down the middle of the field. Randy Moss will likely step into Braylon Edwards' seldom-used deep threat role. When they go three-wide, which is often, Mario Manningham will play the outside with Crabtree sliding into a slot. Crabtree is Smith's most frequent target in the red zone because of the attention Davis draws. The 49ers will, however, often force it to Davis in the middle of the field. The 49ers' defense is the complete package, with the league's best linebackers, a disruptive front four and an improving secondary. Justin Smith is arguably the NFL's most effective 3-4 DE'he's one of the best in the league at stopping the run and also has more pass-rushing ability than your average two-gap end, with 29.5 sacks over the past four seasons. The Niners' defensive scheme funnels ball carriers to Patrick Willis, which is why he consistently racks up more than 100 solo tackles per season. (He was on pace for 110 in 2011 before suffering a hamstring injury in Week 13.) Picking up the slack in Willis' absence was NaVorro Bowman, who was excellent in his first season as a starter. San Francisco also boasts an exceptional return game with speedy Ted Ginn Jr. one of those guys who's a threat to bring any returnable kick to the house. Ginn was obviously sorely missed in the NFC Championship Game, when ill-timed fumbles by second-string return man Kyle Williams essentially cost the 49ers a trip to the Super Bowl. |
|ATLANTA: New offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter isn't nearly as run-happy as departed play-caller Mike Mularkey, so this offense won't be nearly as ground-heavy as it's been in recent seasons. Atlanta was largely a man-blocking team under Mularkey, but Koetter runs a mix of man and zone, requiring an adjustment for the offensive line. As for the backs, Michael Turner is declining, and Jacquizz Rodgers has carved out a role as a change-of-pace back who will get the ball in a variety of ways. Koetter coached 5-foot-6 Maurice Jones-Drew in Jacksonville, and while MJD is thicker, Koetter won't hesitate to use the 5-foot-6 Rodgers. Koetter tends to not mess around with a lot of play-action in the red zone, so near the goal line is where Turner will continue to earn his money. Koetter likes to get his receivers stretching the field, especially on play-action, and he's always been able to find ways to get the ball to his tight ends, which is good news for Tony Gonzalez. Roddy White should again be Matt Ryan's No. 1 target, and Julio Jones will be targeted more frequently downfield. One of Koetter's biggest challenges is to improve the screen game, which was non-existent in Atlanta. That's why Rodgers could be in for a much bigger role. He also plans on utilizing the no-huddle offense that the Falcons used effectively at times last year. The Falcons have a decent overall defense, but they lost their middle linebacker Curtis Lofton to the Saints. He'll be replaced by Sean Weatherspoon, who displayed outstanding range on the outside last season, but may take some time to adjust to the new role. The addition of CB Asante Samuel instantly improves Atlanta's secondary because he has the ability to make opposing quarterbacks pay for trying to avoid throwing at Brent Grimes, who is also an opportunistic playmaker capable of covering No. 1 receivers. DE John Abraham was the only player to surpass four sacks last season. Abraham can't keep his 10-sack production up forever, but he's still a solid tackler who has the ability to pop the football loose. Expect another productive season from the 34-year-old. |
|~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ PA SPORTSTICKER PRO FOOTBALL PREVIEW (SAN FRANCISCO-ATLANTA) ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ |
*49ers-Falcons Preview* =======================
By JEFF MEZYDLO STATS Senior Writer
Back in the NFC championship game, the San Francisco 49ers are confident they can take that next step this year behind multi-threat quarterback Colin Kaepernick.
The top-seeded Atlanta Falcons look at their first playoff victory under coach Mike Smith as nothing more than clearing the first hurdle on the way to achieving the ultimate goal.
The conference's top two teams meet Sunday at the Georgia Dome with a berth in Super Bowl XLVII on the line.
"You're already amped up for the game, but guys get a little more amped up for championship games," San Francisco defensive lineman Ray McDonald told the team's official website. "When you're growing up, these are the kind of games you want to be in."
It's no great surprise Atlanta (14-3) and San Francisco (12-4-1) have reached this point as both were among the favorites to represent the NFC in New Orleans on Feb. 3.
The Falcons cruised to the South title while securing the conference's best record for the second time in three seasons. Second-seeded San Francisco had to wait until Week 17 to clinch the NFC West, but they're back in the title game after suffering a mistake-filled 20-17 overtime loss to New York last season.
This postseason, coach Jim Harbaugh has the versatile Kaepernick under center instead of Alex Smith, who threw five touchdowns without an interception in last season's playoffs and was one of the league's highest-rated passers until suffering a concussion in Week 10.
Kaepernick has a 98.7 passer rating while going 6-2 as a starter since taking over, and his overall performance in last Saturday's 45-31 divisional round victory over Green Bay seemingly makes San Francisco a more dangerous opponent than it was a year ago. The second-year pro rushed for a quarterback playoff-record 181 yards with a pair of touchdowns and overcame an early interception returned for a TD by throwing for 263 with two scores.
"It feels good," Kaepernick said. "We're one step closer to where we want to be. I feel like I had a lot to prove. A lot of people doubted my ability to lead this team."
The burden of trying to stop Kaepernick falls on the shoulders of Atlanta defensive coordinator Mike Nolan, who went 18-37 as 49ers head coach before being fired in the middle of the 2008 season.
"It doesn't change the competitive nature of the game and what we're doing," Nolan said of the reunion, his first with San Francisco.
Versatile quarterbacks have given the Falcons trouble this season. Carolina's Cam Newton threw for 502 yards with four TDs and no picks while rushing for 202 and two scores in two games against them in 2012. In last Sunday's 30-28 win over Seattle, Seahawks rookie Russell Wilson passed for 385 yards with two TDs and an INT while running for 60 and a score on seven carries.
"These young guys, they are athletic and they can run," Nolan said. "That creates a whole new set of problems."
Atlanta surrendered 5.90 yards per play this season - 29th in the league - and allowed the Seahawks to average 7.44 in the divisional round.
Backed by Kaepernick and one of the NFL's best defenses, the 49ers are eager for the chance to avenge last season's championships game loss and return to the Super Bowl for the first time since beating San Diego 18 years ago.
"We all know it's hard to get back to this point, but we did it," said running back Frank Gore, who rushed for 119 yards and a touchdown on 23 carries against the Packers. "We also know how that feeling was when we didn't get the job done last year. We'll try our best to not get that feeling again."
That won't be easy considering the 49ers' postseason road woes. They'll try Sunday to snap a five-game road playoff skid that dates to a 28-3 conference title game win at Chicago on Jan. 8, 1989 - one of only two postseason victories away from home in franchise history.
"It's a big task," said Harbaugh, who was a member of that Bears team that lost to San Francisco. "(The Falcons) had a great season. They're solid in every regard."
Atlanta, which blew leads of 20-0 and 27-7 against Seattle before Matt Bryant kicked a game-winning 49-yard field goal with eight seconds left, does not expect anything to come easy again Sunday.
"We were very fortunate to make the plays there at the end of the game and get the win," Smith said.
"It means we have an opportunity to play again. I think our guys understand the challenge this week is going to be big."
With the chance to reach their first Super Bowl since losing 34-19 to Denver at the end of the 1998 season, the Falcons are not satisfied with simply reaching this point.
"Our goal is not to win one playoff game," said Matt Ryan, who was 24 of 35 for 250 yards with three touchdowns and two interceptions against the Seahawks. "Our goals are still in front of us. We still have two more games to go. That's the mindset I have. That's the mindset this team has."
Though the Falcons possess one of the game's top passing offenses behind Ryan, Roddy White, Julio Jones and future Hall-of-Famer Tony Gonzalez, it was a running game that averaged 87.3 yards - 29th during the regular season - that played a key role last weekend. Michael Turner and Jacquizz Rodgers combined to run 24 times for all but five of Atlanta's season-high 167 yards.
Atlanta could have a hard time duplicating that success against a 49ers defense that ranked fourth in the NFL by allowing an average of 94.2 yards on the ground during the regular season.
The Falcons have won four in a row against the 49ers, most recently 16-14 in 2010. Atlanta also won the teams' only previous playoff meeting, 20-18 at home Jan. 9, 1999.
Ryan has completed 64.0 percent of his passes for 602 yards with three TDs and three INTs while going 2-0 against the 49ers. White has 18 receptions for 369 yards and two scores in three career victories against them.
|Last Updated: 9/22/2014 3:17:37 PM EST|