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Connect four: Top player matchups for Week 4

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3. Falcons RB Michael Turner vs. 49ers LB Patrick Willis

From 1967 to 2001, these teams played twice a year when both were in the NFC West. With realignment in 2002, the Falcons moved to the NFC South and the two teams have played just three times since, with Atlanta winning all three. The 49ers are last in scoring defense, allowing 29 points a game. Last year, they gave up only 17 points a game and six times gave up fewer than 10.

Patrick Willis is the team's leading tackler this year, and also led the team in tackles his first three years in the NFL. He gives full effort on every play and is a great run-stuffer. He had 383 solo tackles in his first three years. He is an outstanding blitzer, who can also play well in space. He never lets up in any play on any down.

Michael Turner is Atlanta's leading rusher with 231 yards. He scored 27 touchdowns from 2008-09. He ran for three scores last year against the Niners. He has excellent vision, to go along with top-notch speed. He is not involved much in the passing game, however.

Bonus matchup: Frank Gore vs. Curtis Lofton. Gore is the engine that drives the 49ers' offense, and Lofton will have to make sure he doesn't consistently get to the second level.


Oher-Harrison Vick-McNabb Turner-Willis Ryans-McFadden


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