Matt Ryan and Tony Gonzalez both got their first playoff win, in an emotional victory at home against the Seattle Seahawks last week. Hosting the San Francisco 49ers will provide similar difficulties. The 49ers play physical with their corners Carlos Rodgers, Tarell Brown, and Chris Culliver, and keep Pro-Bowl safeties Dashon Goldson and Dante Whitner deep to create turnovers, and make bit hits attacking the offense downhill.
Ryan was able to catch the Seahawks secondary off guard, and get an early lead on the a Seahawks team that seemed asleep early in the game, having traveled across the country and playing in Sunday’s early game. The 49ers are undefeated on early Sundays traveling east. The Falcons best chance to win is to get an early lead, as the 49ers have shown a weakness to coming back from a two-touchdown deficit. Matt Ryan, Julio Jones, and Roddy White highlighted the NFL’s 6th best passing offense this season, and were a big part of the Falcons win last week. Jones, White, and Gonzalez caught 17 of Ryan’s 24 completions against the Seahawks, and caught 264 of Matt Ryan 422 completions for 62.5 percent of all passes this season.
Gonzalez, White, and Jones against Rogers, Brown, and Culliver may be the key match up of this game, the 49ers may choose to employ a nickel set mostly in this game, not concerned about the Falcons run game, most likely putting Culliver on Gonzalez. The 49ers are the NFL’s 4th ranked passing defense, and have had success against heavy passing offenses. The 49ers have defeated 3 of the top 10 passing offenses already this year. The Falcons hopes will lie on Ryan’s arm, as the Falcons have too many weapons to double everyone. Ryan will have to capitalize when his weapons win their match ups, and take advantage of the rare one-on-one coverage to defeat this defense.