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NFC Championship Game 2013: What Falcons Must Improve to Defeat 49ers

ATLANTA, GA - JANUARY 13:   Matt Ryan #2 of the Atlanta Falcons celebrates their 30 to 28 win over the Seattle Seahawks during the NFC Divisional Playoff Game at Georgia Dome on January 13, 2013 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images
David DanielsSenior Writer IJanuary 14, 2013

The Atlanta Falcons didn’t advance to the 2013 NFC Championship Game without the Seattle Seahawks exposing several major flaws.

If the Falcons fail to fix those flaws, they won’t advance past the San Francisco 49ers next week. Here’s what Atlanta must do better to earn a Super Bowl berth.

 

3. Stop the TE

Thrust into the role of more of a blocker this season, Vernon Davis is having his worst statistical season since 2008. But he’s still as explosive as ever (see: 44-yard reception against the Green Bay Packers). And he has to be licking his chops to face a Falcons’ stop unit that surrendered eight catches, 142 yards and a touchdown to Zach Miller on Sunday.

Atlanta’s safeties, linebackers—whoever is covering the tight end—must step up their game or they’ll get torched again.

 

2. Protect the Football

While Matt Ryan did what he had to do to walk away with the W, his two interceptions were what gave the Seahawks life. If he had just protected the football in the first place, he may not have had to orchestrate a go-ahead, game-winning drive so late in the fourth quarter.

San Francisco is too dominant right now to give extra opportunities. After it dropped 45 on the Pack, it’s a safe to say it’ll be a challenge for the Falcons to keep up without turnovers.

 

1. Contain the QB

Russell Wilson took off just seven times against Atlanta, but he managed to gain 60 yards and score a touchdown on the ground. If the Falcons struggled to contain Wilson, Colin Kaepernick will give them nightmares.

San Francisco’s QB set a playoff rushing record for his position with 181 yards against the Packers. He also threw for 263 yards and scored four total touchdowns. For the Falcons to defeat the 49ers, they must force Kaepernick to win the game with his arm.

 

David Daniels is a featured columnist at Bleacher Report and a syndicated writer.

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