Key #1: The Falcons have to run the football – This one is pretty cut and dry. Atlanta ran the ball to the tune of 133 yards in the first half against the Seahawks last week and outscored them 20-0. In the second half, they ran for just 34 yards and were outscored 28-10.
Key #2: Colin Kaepernick has to be bigger than the moment – QB Colin Kaepernick had the best rushing day that a quarterback has ever had in this league last week, rumbling for 181 yards and two TDs. However, we have to remember that last year, QB Alex Smith had a big Divisional Round game against the Saints, only to falter against the Giants the very next week in the NFC Championship Game. This can't be the game in which Kaepernick fails.
Key #3: John Abraham has to be healthy and help close down the pocket – DE John Abraham basically sat out all last week against the Seahawks, and QB Russell Wilson ran wild as a result. It wasn't the 60 rushing yards that were really that bothersome, but the fact that the rookie was able to get out of trouble and find clear passing lanes with which to get the ball down the field. If the Falcons don't keep Kaepernick contained and make him a pocket passer, they're in a lot of trouble.
Key #4: The Niners have got to find Vernon Davis down the field – Easier said than done. Kaepernick just hasn't had a great rapport with his tight end this year, as TE Vernon Davis has averaged just one catch per game in his last eight outings. TE Zach Miller had eight catches all by himself last week in space for Seattle. If Davis can get into those intermediate holes 12-15 yards down the field, he'll have a huge day, and so will Kaepernick. If not, it'll be tough to get the job done against this great secondary.
Key #5: Matty Ice has to finally break through with that huge game – If you take all of QB Matt Ryan's regular season numbers and put them together, he has averaged 243.0 yards per game with an average TD/INT ratio per game of 1.63/0.78. If you take his four career playoff games, he has averaged just 208.5 yards per game with a TD/INT ratio per game of 1.50/1.75. We have to see the good Matt Ryan on display on Sunday, because the bad one will get him slaughtered against the 49ers.