Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sport
The Atlanta Falcons are in for a test this week, but it's not unfamiliar to that of a division rival.
This week's NFC Championship has been described as the Atlanta Falcons facing a quarterback unlike anything they'd seen before. Colin Kaepernick has an outstanding skill set, but the truth is, the Falcons have faced a player like him before -- and it didn't go well. There are things they can do to stop Kaepernick, provided their defensive game plan is on point.
Despite the razor thin analogy being leaned on this week -- Colin Kaepernick is not Cam Newton. They play the game similarly, but where Kaepernick likes to move the chains with his arm, Newton throws deeper far often. There's no single answer on who's better, but it's clear they're both dangerous players.
It's not Colin Kaepernick's arm the Falcons need to scheme for, but his legs. Last week the 49ers quarterback broke the NFL record for rushing yards by a QB with 181 yards. The inability by Green Bay's defense to watch the center of the field, paired with inadequate QB spying resulted in his huge day. In two games against the Atlanta Falcons, Cam Newton ran for over 200 yards at over 10.0 yards per carry. It wasn't the defensive line's inability to get pressure, but rather their failings at using Sean Weatherspoon that made the difference.
The outside linebacker is the key. While Weatherspoon may not be having his best season -- he's still the Falcons best defensive player when he's on his game. It's here where the Falcons have to over commit to stopping Kaepernick. It's always a risky proposition to put too much of a defense in stopping one player, but in this case it's prudent.
The 49ers have other offensive weapons, but if they find themselves in the same position as Green Bay -- unable to stop the quarterback, they're done. Cam Newton was able to run all over Atlanta earlier this year, but this is a significantly tougher team now. They railroaded Marshawn Lynch last week, and to have success now they need to stop Colin Kaepernick. Do that, and the rest falls into place.