NFC Championship 2013: Falcons 3-point underdogs to visiting 49ers

Harry How

On the speed of an impressive win over Green Bay, the new-look 49ers charge into Atlanta for its second straight NFC Championship game appearance.

Colin Kaepernick seemed destined to make his first NFL playoff start against the Green Bay Packers.

In fact, it almost seemed as if the 49ers were planning for a playoff game against the Packers. Given how Green Bay struggled on run defense for the last two seasons, adding the lightning-fast and aggressive Kaepernick into an already run-dominant offense made perfect sense.

Perfect sense, that is, to everyone except the Packers.

Green Bay looked lost against San Francisco's aggressive charge, and wilted a bit more with each Kaepernick scramble. Their hard-pressing edge defenders seemed to never consider the possibility Kaepernick may scramble, and the secondary was nowhere to be found.

San Francisco destroyed Green Bay 45-31 in a game that wasn't even that close. The 49ers advance to their second straight NFC Championship game.

They'll head to Atlanta as three-point favorites, where the No. 1 seed Falcons survived a furious comeback by Seattle. Matt Bryant drilled a 49-yard field goal at the end of regulation to give the Falcons their first playoff victory in eight years.

Despite two interceptions, Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan was sharp. After Seattle took a 28-27 lead with 30 seconds to play, Ryan completed two deep passes amid a blitzing Seahawks defense to set up the game-winning field goal.

The Falcons and 49ers will kick off at 3 p.m. ET Sunday, Jan. 20.


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