Published Friday, January 18, 2013
When the Atlanta Falcons play the San Francisco 49ers in the Georgia Dome at 3 p.m. Sunday, history will be made. It will be the first National Football Conference championship game played in Atlanta.
The Falcons began NFL play in 1965. The team has played in two other NFC championship games, but those were on the road. Most notable was the 1998 game in Minnesota when Atlanta’s Dirty Birds beat the Vikings to earn the Falcons’ only appearance in the Super Bowl, a loss to Denver.
This year the Falcons earned the right to have home field advantage throughout the playoffs because they had the best record (13-3) in the league.
Despite its record, Atlanta is getting no love and respect nationally. The team is a 4 1/2 point underdog to the Niners on Sunday. That’s the biggest underdog of any home team playing in an NFC championship game since 1978.
If you listen to many of the national football experts, the Falcons don’t have a chance. The team from the land of the Golden State Bridge is too big, too strong, too fast, too mean and simply too good. The 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick is being hailed as an unstoppable player after his record-setting game against Green Bay on Saturday. Before that game, those same experts had speculated that Kaepernick, who had started only seven game, would be replaced early if the Packers pulled ahead. What a difference a game makes.
We are not sweating the fact the Falcons are getting no respect nationally. They have the best record in the NFL. They have the home field advantage Sunday. They are hungry and so are Atlanta fans who have waited so long for this big game.
Rise up, Atlanta Falcons. Rise up, Falcons fans. Let’s beat the 49ers and push on to the Super Bowl.
A team of destiny?