Saturday, January 21, 2012
NFC Championship Game Preview
New York Giants at San Francisco 49ers
The two teams playing in this Sunday's NFC Championship Game are not the ones most people would have thought just last week.
The New York Giants are playing the San Francisco 49ers in the Bay Area for the ticket to Super Bowl 46 in Indianapolis in two weeks.
San Francisco won a memorable playoff game, 36-32 over the New Orleans Saints while the Giants smashed the Green Bay Packers, 37-20 to set the stage for the NFC title game.
Both teams have been playing outstanding defense in recent weeks, but the 49ers were more consistent during the regular season, compiling a 13-3 record.
The 49ers thrive on turnovers, having led the NFL in takeaways on defense with a plus 28 margin.
The Giants sacked quarterbacks with amazing regularity, getting 48 sacks during the regular season.
On offense, Giants quarterback Eli Manning threw for 4,933 yards while targeting a trio of talented wide receivers in Victor Cruz, Hakeem Nicks and Mario Manningham.
Cruz had a huge regular season while it was Nicks doing the damage with two big touchdown receptions against the Atlanta Falcons in the Wild Card Round and then providing the fireworks along with Manning in the win at Green Bay. Nicks has four touchdown receptions in the two playoff games.
Running backs Brandon Jacobs and Ahmad Bradshaw provide the running game for the Giants.
The 49ers have Frank Gore leading the ground game and quarterback Alex Smith, who had a resurgent season after toiling in mediocrity for the first six seasons after being selected number one overall in the 2005 NFL Draft.
Smith hit Tight End Vernon Davis for a 14-yard touchdown pass with nine seconds left last weekend to eliminate the Saints. Davis, along with Michael Crabtree and Gore, provide Smith the weapons through the air.
The two teams met in November at Candlestick Park with the 49ers defense coming up with a late stand to make the difference in a 27-20 victory.
That started the Giants on a four game tailspin that nearly kept them from making the post-season, but their late season surge continues and they just might turn the tables this time on San Francisco.
The pick here is a 20-17 win for the New York Giants, with the game possibly being decided in overtime.