It turns out that the Falcons not only have a chance of defeating the 49ers in the NFC Championship game Sunday, but that it’s a certainty.

And, you can take the Falcons … and the points! Bovada.com, the online wagering website, has the 49ers as 5-point favorites on Saturday night. So, bet Atlanta and you’re getting nearly a touchdown.

How can I be so sure that the Falcons will win? Well ….

Mark Bradley’s written sports for 25 years for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. He writes “Here’s Why the Falcons will win” and finishes by saying it’ll be an “easy” win by a score of 31-21. An “easy” win and an even easier cover for those of us who rely on guys like Bradley to tell us what’s going to happen well before the game kicks off? That’s outstanding!

Oh, what? Wait.

Bay Area media types all insist that the 49ers are going to win? That’s odd.

Both teams can’t be dead, solid cinches to win easily. But, now I’m remembering reading things like that the Falcons might have a chance if they can stop Colin Kaepernick from running wild, followed by an explanation of how it’ll simply be impossible for the Falcons to stop Kaepernick.

The Falcons went 14-2 in the regular season and they need to stop the 49ers’ offense cold to have even a chance of winning Sunday? Really? I’m not sure I remember a team getting lucky 14 weeks of the year. Typically, 14-win teams are just really, really good.

Members of the media just lean to telling or writing for their customers exactly what their customers already believe.

In Atlanta, Bradley and his peers are explaining how the 5-point favorite 49ers will fall on Sunday. That’s what people who read the Atlanta Journal-Constitution believe. Give them what they want and you get page views and, heck, somebody might even buy a copy of the newspaper. Advertisers are happy and everybody tells the media guy that he’s thoughtful and intelligent.

The same holds in Northern California. You read anywhere that the Falcons are going to win Sunday? Hear it on talk radio or TV? There’s not a single Nor Cal media member who thinks a team that went 14-2 in the regular season can beat the 49ers (11-4-1 in the regular year)?

The media in Atlanta insists the Falcons will win big. The media out here insists the 49ers really can’t lose.

That can’t be a coincidence.

Get it? You do whatever gets page views, sells papers, attracts listeners and to keep fans from rushing to your website to call you names for daring to mention that their team can lose. It’s not exactly journalism as I learned it, but I get the idea behind trying to please your customers.

It turns out that either team can win on Sunday.

Every important matchup (and at this point, the media has made it clear that they’re all important) can’t fall in favor of one team. Kaepernick could have a big game, but Atlanta’s Matt Ryan could also pass for 350 yards and 4 touchdowns. The impenetrable 49ers’ defense could bat down a key third-down pass late in the game, up by 5 points, and see a yellow flag flutter to the ground signaling pass interference … even though TV replays will show that it was a terrible call.

We don’t know what’s going to happen.

I’m not foolish enough to believe that screwy officiating or a jittery O-lineman who can’t keep from jumping offside can’t have a huge impact on the game. I’m betting, literally, that one team will win (by more than 5 points). However, my bet isn’t based on all the hooey in the Journal-Constitution column linked above. And, I’m not going to make a list of unpredictable occurrences that can change the outcome.

I’m happy to list a few, though …

A DB has a receiver covered, but just loses his footing. No reason. Maybe a stadium light briefly blinds him and he stumbles. The receiver catches a pass and waltzes in for a score.

The officiating crew is one of those that calls offensive holding … while you swear at your TV that you can’t see the holds. So, if we see Ryan throw a TD pass then Kaepernick rush for a score, one play will be called back because the crew needs to hit their quota for holding calls.

A place-kicker could shank a chip shot field goal and … whoops! That strikes too close to home for 49ers’ fans. Sorry. Don’t hate me.

And, yeah, I know that many are muttering, “Way to come strong with an opinion, Sillanpaa! Knothead!”

We’ve become a society of sports fan that seems most interested in looking forward to anticipating the game and then looking forward to the post-game celebration. Spend days convincing yourself that your team’s a lock. Then use Sunday as a reason to party. The media is playing its part, assuring you that you will have reason to party into the night.

Just keep in mind, the people in and around Atlanta are just as convinced as folks out here that their team’s going to win.

And, really, we have no idea what’ll happen.






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  1. David

    Watch out Ted, you are about to be kicked out of the sports writers secret club!

    January 19th, 2013 7:22 pm

  2. Paul

    It really comes down to which 49er team shows up. The one that can dominate even the best teams or the one that is flat and can’t tie their shoelaces. If there ever was a game that has the built in incentive to be up for this is it. So, my pick is for the niners to win (and cover the spread). I have an idea… let’s just add up the points when the game ends…….

    January 19th, 2013 8:00 pm

  3. KB

    Kind of like the weather forecasters. They do a lot of guessing about the upcoming big storm, and then spend days talking about what happened. I enjoy the highlights of what already happened – sometimes.

    January 19th, 2013 8:41 pm

  4. overtime

    KB…I’m a fan of more TV channels…more music outlets. But, I was just fine as a kid when we’d watch NFL games on Sunday … see the highlights on Monday Night Football … and wait for the next week’s game. I don’t need to think about the game 24/7 to enjoy it. And, really, if I want to figure out what might happen … I’m going to follow ESPN’s Trent Dilfer or somebody else who explains the game well on Twitter over reading what some sports reporter thinks. Unless, of course, the reporter or columnist talks to people who explain WHY they think the game will go a certain way. My theory is sort of … tell me something I don’t know…inform me…entertain me. TED

    January 19th, 2013 8:46 pm

  5. overtime

    Paul…Thank you for reading. I appreciate it. I’ve been told that both teams WILL show up. And, it’s my hunch after being around big games for a long time, that both teams have all the incentive in the world to be ‘up’ for the game. These guys live and put their lives on the line, literally, to get to the Super Bowl. So, don’t you think they’ll be emotionally ready? I think that the media and some fans mistake a team that gets out-coached or outplayed looking confused is that team being emotionally down. They’ll ALL be ‘up’ when the game starts. How they react as the game unfolds is the key. I like your last idea. TED

    January 19th, 2013 8:48 pm

  6. overtime

    David…To be in the club, you need to write what you think…go on TV and explain more about what you think…then go on the radio and explain it again. And, you do it all for 3 media platforms that cater to the same group of fans in Northern California. (Do people actually read those guys…then listen to them on the radio…then watch them on TV? Really?) … And, you have to sell folks on the idea that being at the games somehow gives you unique insight. I know from following him that CSN Bay Area’s Matt Maiocco has relationships and pursues 49ers stories, so he benefits being at workouts and games. Most of those guys know no more from being around the team or at games than we do from watching at home. Ted

    January 19th, 2013 8:53 pm

  7. Jagular

    You’d better stop now. You’re giving away why Lowsy Cohn is still in the business.

    January 20th, 2013 10:00 am

  8. overtime

    Jagular…Thanks for reading. I appreciate it. I’m more focused this second on those 5 points the gambling site has the 49ers winning by … enjoy the game. TED

    January 20th, 2013 12:54 pm

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