What a great matchup we have this week for the NFC Championship.
Lets break this game down by position:
Eli Manning Leading The Way
Quarterback: Advantage Giants.
Eli Manning is not only a better passer than Alex Smith, but he is also much more clutch. Although Alex Smith had a breakout game against the Saints, Eli still gets the nod.
Also, Eli has the experience that is needed for pressure packed games like this. Eli is no stranger to tough situations on the road and with the exception of Tom Brady, Eli Manning is the most successful and experienced quarterback left in the playoffs.
Running Backs: Advantage 49ers.
The combination of Frank Gore and Kendall Hunter seemingly gives the Niners the advantage over the Giants in the run game. Jacobs and Bradshaw are good backs, but Gore is an elite caliber running back and Kendall Hunter is an excellent change of pace for him.
Both of the Niners’ backs will need to have an excellent game in order for the Niners to have any chance to pull off a victory and punch their ticket to Indianapolis.
Offensive Line: Advantage 49ers.
The Giants offensive line is excellent but their run blocking has been sub par the whole year. However, in the passing game the Giants have kept Eli upright and given him enough time to find his receivers downfield.
On the other hand, the 49ers offensive line is not only massive, but they impose their will on defenses. Joe Staley is one of the best Left Tackles in the league that no one has heard about.
Right Tackle Anthony Davis has also been great for the Niners all year-long. One of the key matchups in this game will be Staley/Davis against JPP and Tuck: I believe the winner of this matchup will tip the game in their team’s favor.
Wide Receivers: Advantage Giants
This was easy because the Giants receiving core is so much better than the 49ers.
Giants fans hope they see a lot of this.
With play-makers Victor Cruz, Hakeem Nicks, and Mario Manningham on the outside look for Eli to get it to his weapons early and often.
I am very interested to see how the Niners deal with this three-headed monster. The Niners contained the Saints offense until the final 5 minutes of the 4th quarter. Simlilarly, they can not allow Eli to torch them late and they must stop him on 3rd downs.
Tight Ends: Advantage 49ers
Beckum and Ballard have been good surprises for Eli and the Giants passing attack. Both players will need to have an impact on this game whether it be through the passing game or picking up the 49ers blitz.
But make no mistake about it, the 49ers have the clear advantage here. Vernon Davis is a beast and force to be reckoned with.
Also one of the major strengths for the 49ers is one of the Giants major weaknesses.
Expect A Big Week From Vernon Davis
If for some ridiculous reason Vernon Davis is being covered by Michael Boley or Chase Blackburn, look for Alex Smith to exploit that matchup EVERY TIME.
Kenny Phillips will probably draw Vernon Davis on man coverage, this is a critical matchup that both teams need to win so it will be very interesting to see how the Perry Fewell decides to cover Davis.
Defensive Line: Advantage Giants
Not by much, but the Giants get the advantage in my opinion because of their pass rush ability. The key for the Giants is stopping the run; you can not allow Frank Gore and Kendall Hunter to dictate the pace of the game.
The key is if the Giants D-Line can stop the run on 1st and 2nd down and set up 3rd and longs for the 49ers offense.
Than the Giants will have a huge advantage and can use their speed on the d-line to their advantage against a stronger but slower 49ers offensive line.
Do not underestimate the 49ers defensive line, though. They consistently pressured and knocked down Drew Brees and thus held the great passing attack of the Saints more or less in check.
Linebackers: Advantage 49ers
Giants fans DON'T want to see this.
The 49ers have two of the best inside linebackers in the NFL with Patrick Willis and Navarro Bowman. In addition they have defensive rookie of the
year Aldon Smith and Aaron Brooks coming from the outside. All four of their linebackers are individually and collectively better than the Giants linebacker core.
I believe the Giants could have one of the worst linebacker cores in the NFL. Everyone wants to make comparisons to the ’07 Super Bowl team but the one player that the Giants do not have is Middle Linebacker Antonio Pierce.
Pierce was the leader and signal caller for the Giants defense in that Super Bowl run. His skill and attitude are missed and the Giants have never had a linebacker of decent caliber since.
Defensive Backs: Advantage 49ers
The 49ers led the league in takeaways this season and forced 5 turnovers against one the best offenses in the Saints.
Despite the secondary’s great play in Green Bay, I still feel that the Giants rely on their pass rush way too much and with the great running game the 49ers posses, the secondary could be exposed with one on one matchups.
The Giants knew Green Bay was not a good run team and very one-dimensional. This matchup will be the Giants’ biggest test in terms of balance between run and pass.
Special Teams: Advantage 49ers
Ted Ginn is a potential game changer from the kick and punt return positions. The Giants do not possess a specialist on kick and punt returns which can hurt the Niners in this aspect.
David Akers has been money all year. He broke the team points record set by JERRY RICE and set the record for most field goals made in NFL history. If you break a record held by Jerry Rice you instantly have the advantage in my opinion.
Andy Lee has also been a major weapon for the 49ers from the Punter position. He has consistently switched field position for the Niners defense all year.
Getting a short field for the Giants is CRUCIAL to their victory, but if Andy Lee is on his game the Giants will have to go the distance of the field against the best takeaway team in the league.
In the end, for some ridiculous reason I’m picking the Giants to win 24-21. After I’m done throwing up, check out my AFC Championship Breakdown coming soon!
Winner Gets A Chance