NFC Championship Game 2013: How will Jim Harbaugh "kick 'em in the shins"?

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The 49ers head into Atlanta as a 3.5 point favorite over the Falcons, making them the highest road favorite in the last 30 conference championship games. We look at how Jim Harbaugh will battle any issues of over-confidence.

The San Francisco 49ers head into their practice week, sitting as 3 1/2 point favorites over the Atlanta Falcons. It is not surprising the 49ers were installed as favorites for the NFC Championship Game. While that number may not seem huge, it reportedly makes the 49ers the biggest road favorite in the last 30 conference title games. I don't know if that's combined AFC, NFC (so, 15 years), or just NFC, but either way, that tells us a lot.

While I am excited for a confident 49ers squad, there is always the concern about overconfidence, and everyone's favorite villain Fred P. Soft (not the NN commenter!). The 49ers are playing great football, but they have yet to settle into a smooth rhythm this season, as seen in the WWL conundrum.

Where it will get interesting is how Coach Harbaugh combats this favored status. He has made it very clear that he would prefer to kick people in the shin when they offer flowery praise of his team. It's been 36 hours since the 49ers defeated the Packers and the praise has been flowing in the local media and around the country.

Even with the big win, all this could make for a cranky Jim Harbaugh at his Monday press conference. He will address the media at 11:30 a.m. PT, and I have to imagine there will be at least one question about the team's favorite status, if not directly about "Fred P. Soft" as well.

I suppose the 49ers should be able maintain focus with all that's on the line this weekend. But, there's always the chance for an early let-down that puts the team in a hole right off the bat. The 49ers are coming off a monster game, and hopefully we'll see them put it all together right off the bat on Sunday.

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