The San Francisco 49ers meet the Atlanta Falcons this afternoon in the Georgia Dome to play for the opportunity to go to the Super Bowl in New Orleans. Hidden between the media’s heavy stereotyping of this matchup are a few nice preview pieces that actually track pretty well those for last week‘s game, as well as my prediction for this afternoon’s outcome:
- Here‘s Yahoo’s Jay Busbee on Atlanta as a sports city and what this Falcons team means to the local fan base. Nicely tracks Jason Kirk’s bit highlighted here last week.
- Here‘s Grantland’s Rembert Browne with “more proof” of a Falcon victory today. Nicely tracks Rembert’s bit from last week, though, as he notes, “now with more semiaquatic mammals.” Browne remains a must-read.
- SF’s best receiver, Michael Crabtree, allegedly got himself into a bit of trouble after last week’s win over Green Bay, and Bay Area police have been questioning him in connection with a sexual assault matter. According to the San Francisco Chronicle today, “the 49ers have not directly said Crabtree will play Sunday, though it seems likely since the investigation is ongoing.” Yesterday, ProFootballTalk had a report that Crabtree had not been seen with the team at their hotel in Atlanta. Even if he does play, the investigation may affect the team’s play in some way.
- Like last week, I just can’t bring myself to predict a Falcon win. ATL’s defense is better than the Packers’, but their best/only pass rusher will be playing with a foot injury, and the birds’ home-run offense has been a roll of the dice every week anyway. Whether they can fluster Colin Kaepernick, who will be coming in with a lot of confidence and operating behind a stout offensive line is a critical question. I also think Atlanta needs to stick with Michael Turner and the run game more than they did last week. Prediction: San Francisco 28, Atlanta 17.