The Giants have withstood many challenges this year and have persevered to play in the NFC Championship. It’s time to finish what you started. As they say in Big Blue land, we are “all in” now!
The 49ers bring an athletic, punishing defense to the table and they will be a tough bunch to beat on their home field. Expect this game to be won in the trenches, and as Chris Canty points out, you may just witness a bloodbath.
You have to leave it all on the field now.
So, here are five things to watch for in the NFC Championship between the New York Giants and the San Francisco 49ers.
Will weather effect game?
As of early Sunday morning, the weather forecast for San Francisco calls for a 60 percent chance of rain with the temperatures in the low 50’s when the game kicks off. It’s been debated to death on who would have the advantage if the rain comes down heavy. The 49ers arguably have the better run game and that could play a factor. However, on the flip side when the Giants have the ball while attempting to pass the ball, the receivers will at least have the advantage of knowing their routes and where they have to be. It may also be difficult for 49er defenders to be reactionary and stay with the Giants receivers. The muddy tracks could also negate the great speed the 49ers have on defense. In the end, the rain could affect both teams with no one having a clear-cut advantage. Plain and simple, the game will be won by the team that plays smart and makes the big plays.
Run game could be swing factor
Both the 49ers and Giants’ run games could play a significant impact in the game, especially if it rains down on Candlestick Park. We all know how good the 49ers rush defense is. They are lights out against the run, allowing only 77.3 yards per game on the ground. In 17 games played this year, the 49ers have only allowed two rushing touchdowns. With the Giants showing a renewed passion to rush the ball, they have to attempt to get the run game going as to keep the 49ers’s honest. The Giants rush defense will have the task of trying to contain Frank Gore. That may look like a tall order at first, but Gore has been gimpy in the last couple of weeks and is clearly not the same runner that he was in the first half of the season. This could be a game that could be won with the run, just as easily as it could be a non-factor. It should be interesting to see who gets the best of this battle.
How will Giants attack Vernon Davis?
A major weakness in the Giants defense is how they defend stud tight ends that can create and make plays. Vernon Davis fits that description to the letter. Davis is on a high after catching the game-winning touchdown against the New Orleans Saints last week, a game in which he recorded seven receptions for a whopping 180 yards and two touchdowns. Remember, this is the same Davis who had his way with the Giants when they played in the regular season. His 31-yard touchdown broke open a 13-13 contest. However, most of that damage came after Michael Boley left the game with an injury. Boley is coming off a fantastic game against the Packers and his coverage on Davis will be crucial, as Davis is the one playmaker who can make the Giants vulnerable. It’s vital that the Giants get aggressive with Davis and take him out of his comfort zone.
Can the Giants get pressure on Alex Smith?
In the first game back in Week 10, Smith was hardly pressured (only sacked twice) and extended drives with both his legs and his arm. Smith has gone from a game manager into a solid passer who can lead his team on drives (look no further than the finish of the Saints game for proof), so the Giants have to rattle him and get him out of his rhythm. The Giants must get pressure, and considering how bad the 49ers’ O-Line has played at times this season that should not be a huge problem.
It’s on Eli’s shoulders
All other factors and intangibles aside, for the Giants to advance, Manning has to be on top of his game. With the way he is playing right now, all Giants’ fans should have the utmost confidence that Manning will navigate through this very difficult test. The 49ers’ defense is no joke and while the weather could play a factor, Manning should rise above it. While Smith is a having a great turnaround season, this game will be won if Manning is on top of his game. There is no reason to think he won’t rise to the challenge and get this team to the Super Bowl. In Manning we trust!
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