The playoff field is getting smaller as we move on from the divisional round and teams begin to prepare for their conference championship games.
The Falcons have a very formidable opponent in the San Francisco 49ers, but, thankfully for the Falcons and fans in Atlanta, the Falcons have Matt Ryan.
Matt Ryan is going to bring the Falcons to the promised land and help Atlanta hoist their first Lombardi Trophy in franchise history.
Ryan's next test will be against the very talented San Francisco 49ers. The 49ers match up well with the Falcons. The Niners will field the fourth best running game in the NFL against Atlanta's 21st ranked rush defense.
Because of Atlanta's struggling defense, the NFC Championship will rest on Matt Ryan's shoulders. Ryan will be up against the fourth best passing and rushing defense in the NFL, but he has the playmakers around him to secure a victory and an NFC Championship.
The Packers couldn't hang with the Niners because they couldn't get anything going offensively, especially on the ground. The Falcons won't have that issue with Michael Turner and Jacquizz Rodgers coming out of the backfield. Turner and Rodgers can eat up enough yardage to keep the San Fran defense honest, opening up the passing game for Ryan.
Ryan also has elite receivers to give the 49ers fits in Roddy White, Julio Jones and Tony Gonzalez.
The Falcons, unlike the Packers, can get things going on the ground or through the air and have the ability to win in a shootout over a 49ers team who has struggled in the passing game.
After Atlanta gets out of the NFC Championship, they'll be matched up with either the Ravens or the Patriots—both teams that are in the bottom half of the league in passing defense. Ryan and the Falcons average over 280 yards through the air per game, which would most likely be enough to compete with either AFC team.
Another big element that Ryan brings to the table is his success in close games.
In this season alone the Falcons had nine games that were decided by less than two touchdowns. Ryan and the Falcons came out on top in all but two of those games.
In the playoffs it seems like things are almost always close at the end of the game, which helps the Falcons and Ryan. Matty Ice has played well in clutch situations throughout his career, especially in this season. The Seahawks made what looked like a blowout into a close game, but Ryan and the Falcons had the poise to stay on top until the final buzzer.
The Falcons quarterback knows what it feels like to play in close games, which will lead the Falcons and the city of Atlanta to raising their first Lombardi Trophy.