Earlier today, Sports Illustrated dropped their latest regional covers. The two that I have seen featured Baltimore Ravens QB Joe Flacco and 49ers QB Colin Kaepernick. Flacco is a bit of a surprise given the Ray Lewis storyline. Kaepernick is not remotely surprising considering his emergence into the national spotlight.
There is always the joke about the SI cover jinx, but I figure it's only a regional cover, so it doesn't get the force of the SI cover jinx! Even still, I have my own modests concern this week about the 49er going into this game riding high and in the role of the favorite. I recognize that these concerns are not entirely based in the rational, but given the 49ers performances at times, it remains on my mind.
And it's not going anywhere anytime soon. Along with the SI cover, the line on the 49ers-Falcons game continues to climb. The 49ers are now five point favorites. The 49ers opened as three points favorites. The line jumped to 3 1/2 within half an hour, and then climbed up to 4 1/2 last night. The money appears to be pouring in on the 49ers, and I wouldn't be surprised if the line got up to six.
This is getting kind of ridiculous. Since the NFL playoffs expanded to 10 teams in 1978, the Falcons are the biggest home underdog of ANY #1 seed in any round of the playoffs, and they are the biggest home underdog of any team in the Conference Championship round.
While I would hope the 49ers do not come into this game with a flat start, it it safe to say the Falcons will be fired up with "Nobody believes in us." They can apply that because outside of Falcons fans, I'm not sure how many people are buying into the Falcons right now. This is not some kind of boastful statement, but a simple statement of fact. Had the Falcons completed their blow out of the Seahawks, I doubt we'd be talking about this. The line would be under three one way or the other.
Given that the Falcons did get the initial playoff victory monkey off their back, how do people see them coming out on Sunday? Will they be tight from nearly blowing the game, or will they be loose from hanging on? I would lean toward the latter, but hopefully it doesn't even matter. If the 49ers play the way they are capable of playing, I honestly don't think anybody can beat them. Obviously they may not play at their A+ level, but if they bring their A+ game, they have proven just how dominant they can be. I don't know how many times I need to knock on wood to avoid appearances of cockiness. Karma is a tricky thing. I don't necessarily believe in it on a regular basis, but I believe in it when it might be able to help me!
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