Thearon W. Henderson
Today we find out which teams play in the Super Bowl. The opener is the NFC Championship Game. It is the rare Playoff game where the road team seems to be everybody's pick.
The defining moment of the season for both the 49ers and the Falcons was similar. Both teams blew huge leads in a big game and then still gutted out a win. For San Francisco, that was in New England last month. For the Falcons, it came last week against the Seahawks.
This is a game with implications beyond this year for both squads. If the Niners win, it could be the start of a golden age with Colin Kaepernick at quarterback. For Atlanta, it might be now or never. The core of their roster has been together a long time. Some key parts are aging. Everything is in front of them. The Saints were down this year. The Panthers never launched. They are playing this game at home. This might be the best chance they ever get to make the Super Bowl. All the good that came from the way they dusted themselves off the mat last week goes away if they lose today, maybe forever.
There are a lot of things that make me want to pick Atlanta in this game. They have been the more consistent team. They have a real home field advantage. I like their quarterback over a young guy making his first road Playoff start. I picked them to win it all preseason. When everybody jumps on the road team in the Playoffs, it is usually dangerous.
I'm going with the Niners, though. Atlanta has been the better team this year, but the 49ers are the hot team after they crushed Green Bay. In the Playoffs, I'll go with the team peaking at the right time over the team that has been more consistent.
JB's Playoff Prediction Record: 6-2