We’ve heard a lot of reasons why the Atlanta Falcons won’t win the first NFC Championship game the franchise has ever hosted, this Sunday at 3 p.m. The San Francisco 49ers are just too strong, too good, too well-coached. The Falcons escaped against the Seattle Seahawks, so they’ll really have their hands full this week.
All of that may be true, but there are plenty of numbers that point to another favorable weekend for the Falcons. I’m not saying they’re definitely going to win, but I am presenting the other side of the argument that had been very one-sided up until this point. Let’s delve a little deeper, and maybe Atlanta fans won’t be as nervous heading into Sunday.
(Also read: Fun happenings in Atlanta this weekend)
That’s the record of the home team in conference championship games that are played indoors, according to ESPN Stats and Info. The only home team that lost in this situation? Why, it was the 1998 Minnesota Vikings, who lost to YOUR Atlanta Falcons (the game was played in January 1999).
The number of different teams the Falcons have defeated this season, including the playoffs. The only three losses came at the hands of NFC South rivals, and they avenged all three defeats with a win. In other words, the Falcons have defeated every team on their schedule (they have not played the 49ers yet, or either of the finalists in the AFC).
The Falcons’ combined record this season against quarterbacks Russell Wilson, Cam Newton and Robert Griffin III. All week, you’ve heard about what a specimen San Fran quarterback Colin Kaepernick has been on the field, and it’s true. He’s really good. But the experts have mentioned the Falcons’ inability to stop similar quarterbacks, listing Wilson, Newton and Griffin as the three examples. They’ve shredded our defense, racking up yards by the hundreds and running all over the field at will! But they’ve lost three of four this season against that hapless Falcons defense, and it’s slightly more important to get the win on the scoreboard than in the stat sheet.
The number of years it has been since the 49ers won a road game in the playoffs. They haven’t done it since January 1988, and they’re 0-5 in that span. That’s a pretty long time for a franchise to be in the hole!
Matt Ryan’s record at the Georgia Dome. ESPN says that .850 winning percentage is second only to Tom Brady’s .851 (86-15) among quarterbacks with at least 20 starts in the Super Bowl era. And they want to move the Falcons into a new stadium? To that, I say — nonsense. Stay in that Dome for as long as we’re winning 85 percent of the time.
Game-winning drives by Matt Ryan in either the fourth quarter or overtime, the most by any quarterback in the league since Ryan’s rookie season.
The record for the No. 1 seed when they play the No. 2 seed in the conference championship game, since 1990. Maybe it’s not a huge advantage, but it is an advantage nonetheless!
The number of passing touchdowns allowed by Atlanta’s defense this season — less than one per game. They are tied with the Rams and Bengals for the fewest passing TDs allowed in the league.
The Falcons have won all four games against the 49ers since Atlanta left the NFC West following realignment in 2002.