The Atlanta Falcons earned the NFC’s top seed of the 2013 NFL playoffs, thanks to a 13-3 record. Despite hosting the NFC Championship game against the San Francisco 49ers, the Falcons are a decided underdog against the 49ers. Atlanta needed some last minute heroics from quarterback Matt Ryan to beat the Seattle Seahawks 30-28 in the NFC Divisional round. This came after the Falcons wasted a 20-0 lead. A performance like this doesn’t help the confidence of Falcons’ fans in their hometown team.
Meanwhile, 49ers’ quarterback Colin Kaepernick was having a performance for the ages in his first playoff game. He set an NFL playoff record with 181 rushing yards in San Francisco’s 45-31 NFC Divisional round victory over the Green Bay Packers. If that doesn’t justify 49ers’ head coach Jim Harbaugh turning to Kaepernick over veteran quarterback Alex Smith, then nothing will.
Recent history hasn’t been kind to the Falcons either. In their 2012 NFC Wild Card game with the New York Giants, Atlanta was pummeled by the unimaginable score of 24-2. Considering that a team can’t earn a safety for themselves on offense, it can be said that Ryan and the Falcons’ offense were nonexistent that day. After the 2010 season, the Falcons were the NFC’s top seed. Unfortunately, the Falcons were one and done, eliminated by the Green Bay Packers 48-21.
While the Falcons struggled to beat the Seahawks, all that matters is that they’ve advanced to the NFC Championship game. Ryan, nicknamed “Matty Ice”, finally lived up to his nickname while saving Atlanta from another embarrassing first round playoff exit. However, Ryan is arguably the least accomplished of the remaining four NFL quarterbacks. Baltimore Ravens’ quarterback Joe Flacco has been to consecutive AFC Championship games. Kaepernick’s playoff debut has already been documented. And New England Patriots’ quarterback Tom Brady……well…..is Tom Brady.
Yes, the 2012 Atlanta Falcons resemble the late comedian Rodney Dangerfield in that they both get no respect. Unlike Dangerfield, the Falcons can get the ultimate respect that’s eluded them by winning the Super Bowl. But first, they have to beat the 49ers. Doing that may give Atlanta the respect it deserves as one of the NFL’s better teams.