The Giants and the 49ers are very familiar with one another, although in this meeting, the roles are somewhat reversed. In past games, the Giants were the stout, solid defense, with the grind it out, tough offense, and the 49ers were the high powered offense with the above average defense.
The Giants come into this game on a hot streak, winning their last four games, including last weeks stunner over the top-seeded Packers, 37-20. The Giants defense relies a lot on their relentless pass rush. With Osi Umenyiora, Justin Tuck, and Jason Pierre-Paul, they’ve combined for 17 sacks in the last four games. They’re going to need to put pressure on Alex Smith in order to win this game. Eli Manning has proven that he is, in fact, an elite quarterback. Making all the throws, making good decisions, and getting a little bit of luck on top of it. They’ll need production from him, as well as their leading receivers, Victor Cruz and Hakeem Nicks. Both had great games last week, and need to continue that top notch performance. It’s not going to be quite as easy against this 49ers defense.
The 49ers have surprised virtually everyone. Coming off of a 6-10 season last year, first year head coach Jim Harbaugh brought them to a 13-3 season and now they’re playing for a spot in the Super Bowl. Mostly thanks to their defense. Led by linebacker Patrick Willis, this defense swarms to the ball, not allowing receivers to get much, if anything after the catch, and stuffing the run relentlessly.
This game is going to come down to how well Alex Smith performs. Even with a great defense, New York is going to score some points, and Smith and the San Francisco offense is going to have to keep pace with them, or this game will get out of control. For New York, they need to keep pressure on Smith. They need to avoid costly turnovers, and need to try to establish the run against a very stingy defense. They’ve got the ability and the talent to do so, but the 49ers also have the ability and the talent to stop it. These are two evenly matched teams, and I honestly think that home field advantage is going to play a major role in this one. The 49ers are going to win this one by 10.