49ers looking for different results in their return to NFC title game; Falcons aiming to finish the job at home
The top two teams in the NFC meet on Sunday to determine who will represent the conference in Super Bowl XLVII, as the San Francisco 49ers and Atlanta Falcons face off in the NFC Championship game at 3 p.m. ET on FOX. The 49ers find themselves in the conference title game for the second year in a row, but this time must get the job done on the road against the Falcons, who have lost just one game in the Georgia Dome this season.
Road-tested Seahawks looking to add to Falcons’ recent playoff woes
The Seattle Seahawks bring their road show to the Georgia Dome to take on the Atlanta Falcons in an NFC Divisional Playoff showdown that kicks off Sunday at 1 p.m. ET on FOX. In beating Washington 24-14 in last Sunday’s Wild Card matchup, the Seahawks have already accomplished something the Falcons haven’t since 2004 – win a postseason game. The Falcons, champions of the NFC South and who tied the Broncos with 13 wins in the regular season are no stranger to having success in the months of September through December.
Falcons look to avenge Week 10 loss to Saints, possibly clinch NFC South
The New Orleans Saints will get together with the Atlanta Falcons for the second time in less than a month when the two NFC South foes square off at 8:20 p.m. ET on the NFL Network. The Falcons (10-1) will not only be looking to avenge a Week 10 loss to these Saints, their only defeat so far this season, they also could sew up the division crown with a win and a loss by Tampa Bay in Denver on Sunday.
On draft day, don't sleep on underrated fantasy football players like the Falcons' Matt Ryan.
It's fantasy football time, which means millions of fans will be drafting their teams over the next few weeks. Here's a look at 15 sleeper picks that could mean the difference between winning or losing your league this season.
These guys are fringe big names, so don’t sleep on them for too long.
What can the Atlanta Falcons do for you this fantasy season? Check out Athlon Sports' team report as we break down the rookies, veteran players to watch and avoid, fantasy playoff schedule and more to help you get ready for the 2012 season.
Inside the Locker Room
with Knox Bardeen, CBSSports.com
• Inside the Locker Room
With Jeff Duncan of the New Orleans Times-Picayune
Do you see Michael Turner getting the same 325-plus carry workload this season?
If things go as planned, the Falcons should be playing with a lot of leads this season. That’s where Turner becomes the workhorse and finishes games with his powerful runs. The addition of Julio Jones and Jacquizz Rodgers should only help Turner’s production because it will force defenses to cover more of the field.
With his average dropping below 10 yards per catch for the first time in his career last season, have we seen the end of Tony Gonzalez as an elite tight end?
At this stage of his career, Gonzalez is a notch below the game’s elite fantasy tight ends, but he remains a solid weekly points producer. He’s in terrific shape, can beat most linebackers in single coverage between the numbers and is highly trusted by Matt Ryan. Expect another solid year from him, but his reception totals might decline a little because there’s more competition for catches with the addition of wideout Julio Jones.
What type of numbers do you expect from Jones in his rookie season?
While Jones will start from Day 1, he’s no better than the No. 3 option right now behind Roddy White and Gonzalez. Still, he figures to see a lot of single coverage with teams concentrating their coverage on White, and that should lead to some big-play possibilities. White will still catch the bulk of Ryan’s passes, but Jones could easily score 8-10 touchdowns as a rookie. Much will depend on how quickly he masters the Falcons offense.
• Fantasy Playoff Run — Weeks 14-16: @CAR, JAC, @NO
So we’re all expecting the aerial game to improve for the Falcons, and the fantasy playoff schedule should cater to that. Matt Ryan threw a combined six TD passes and averaged 210 yards in the four meetings against the Panthers and Saints in 2010, and the Jags’ 28th-ranked pass defense is sandwiched in between. The porous run defenses of the Jags (22nd) and Panthers (23rd) are also inviting for Michael Turner and Co.
• Athlon Best Bets
Sleeper: Julio Jones, WR Deep-Sleeper: Jacquizz Rodgers, RB Overvalued: Tony Gonzalez, TE Top Rookie: Julio Jones, WR Bounce-Back: Harry Douglas, WR Top IDP: Curtis Lofton, LB
• Try to Avoid John Abraham, DL
The addition of Ray Edwards as the other bookend on the Falcons’ line and Kroy Biermann in the rotation means, Abraham, the 12-year veteran, may not get enough snaps to warrant being a top IDP defensive lineman. WAIT UNTIL: 20th Rd
• Draft Class Fantasy Impact
The Falcons paid a steep price to move from No. 27 to No. 6 in the first round, but they believe they landed the missing piece to make a Super Bowl run. Jones should help ease the pressure on Roddy White and tight end Tony Gonzalez while adding even more fantasy value to Matt Ryan. Jones should be Atlanta’s No. 2 receiver this season and a solid WR3 or WR4 pick. Rodgers lacks ideal size (5'6") but will slide into a third-down role.