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49ers vs. Falcons: Why each team will win

The 49ers and Falcons square off on Monday Night Football in a few hours. Until then, let's take a look at why each team will win the Week 16 contest.

Bob Stanton-USA TODAY Sports

It's game-day, and given the Monday Night Football affair approaching, I thought we'd move our normal "Why each team will win" post to gameday!

The Falcons win if...

The Falcons win on offense if they pass the ball effectively. The bottom line is that Atlanta is a passing team, even with a lackluster offensive line and Julio Jones rehabbing from a broken screw in his foot, which sounds horrendous.

The bottom line is that the Falcons are going to have to outgun the 49ers and try to force some turnovers. That strategy (barely) worked against the Redskins, but they'll likely need a lot more offense. If the line can buy Matt Ryan time in the pocket, the Falcons are still capable of moving the football.

If the 49ers defense shuts down the passing attack, I don't think Atlanta's going to be able to do enough in any other phase of the game to win. They've got to sling it. Oh, but I still need to talk about the defense.

The Falcons win if their defense forces enough turnovers. This is a team with real issues in the secondary aside from rookie revelation Desmond Trufant at cornerback, as well as an embarrassing run defense. The best way for this team to win is to attempt to force a fumble on virtually every play. That approach led to a narrow win over the Redskins a week ago, when they forced a grand total of five fumbles and picked off two passes.

If they're opportunistic enough, the Falcons have a shot.

The 49ers win if...

The 49ers offense can win this game if the offensive line controls the line of scrimmage. The 49ers are without fullback Bruce Miller, but if the 49ers offensive line can create some holes for Frank Gore & company, the 49ers running backs should be able to gash the Falcons defense. The big question is how they handle the second level without the impressive young fullback leading the way. Anthony Dixon will get his chance, so he could prove to be a key guy to watch.

If the 49ers offensive line can create some time in the pocket for Colin Kaepernick, the 49ers receivers and tight ends are really starting to mesh. Michael Crabtree, Vernon Davis and Anquan Boldin are the players to watch, and if Kap gets time, they have the moves to get open.

On the defensive side of the ball, the 49ers need to bring the pressure on Matt Ryan. If Aldon Smith, Ahmad Brooks, NaVorro Bowman, Justin Smith and Ray McDonald are able to get into the backfield and pressure Matt Ryan, the 49ers defense should be able to contain the Falcons offense. Atlanta's passing game has shown some improvement since Roddy White really returned, but the 49ers secondary is playing some strong football. It will be tough enough in one-on-one matchups, but if Ryan also doesn't have time for his receivers to get open, it could be a long night for the quarterback.