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NFL Betting: Falcons vs. 49ers Preview

Posted by Stan Jenkins on 12/22/2013 11:46:22 AM

The Atlanta Falcons and San Francisco 49ers met in the NFC Championship Game last season, and their meeting in week 16 was supposed to be one of the highlights of this NFL season. However, the fall of the Falcons and the decline of the 49ers’ offense have created a game that won’t generate much of any publicity or intrigue in the final days before Christmas. This game will not feel like a Christmas present for many football fans, though it does promise to make the 49ers very happy when 60 minutes of competition are over.

Atlanta Falcons @ San Francisco 49ers

Odds: 49ers -13.5

Total: 45

The Atlanta Falcons led the San Francisco 49ers last January in the NFC Championship Game, 17-0. The Falcons blitzed the Niners in the first 16 minutes of play and – in their own stadium – seemed ready to cruise to their second Super Bowl appearance. However, San Francisco scored 21 points in the next 20 minutes of game time, and what had been an overwhelmingly large lead was trimmed to only three points, at 24-21. The Falcons pressed, the 49ers’ defense kept attacking, and by game’s end, the Falcons were unable to score a single point in the second half. San Francisco pulled out a 28-24 win on the road that sent the Niners to their sixth Super Bowl, all while the Falcons were left to wonder how they could allow such a big lead to slip away in the Georgia Dome.

San Francisco has not used that game as a springboard to a better 2013 season. The Niners have actually regressed compared to where they were at this point in the 2012 season. However, San Francisco is still very much on course to return to the playoffs and get a shot at the Seattle Seahawks in the postseason. Atlanta is the team that has truly not recovered from the NFC Championship Game.

The Falcons have crumbled this season. Atlanta’s offensive line has been nonexistent, and that’s why quarterback Matt Ryan has been on the run all season. Given no consistent protection at all, Ryan has had to bail out of all sorts of plays. He’s been panicky and on edge each Sunday, and the Falcons can’t establish the running game well enough to stay out of obvious passing situations. The offense has been buried because of the line’s inability to block or provide adequate pass protection. The defense hasn’t been much better; Atlanta hasn’t been able to come up with the kind of pass rush that changes games in its favor. The Falcons have been on the receiving end of pass rushes, but they haven’t dished out a lot of pressure this season.

Prediction

San Francisco should be able to do whatever it wants in this contest, but even if you’re skeptical of the Niners’ offense against the Falcons’ defense, the matchup between Atlanta’s offense and San Francisco’s defense is going to be so completely lopsided that everything else won’t matter. Expect San Francisco to limit Atlanta to nothing more than 13 points in this game. The Niners should roll to a relatively comfortable victory.

Pick: 49ers -13.5

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