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Giants, Niners Set To Square Off In NFC Championship

By Brandon Crosby
On January 18, 2012

Both the New York Giants and San Francisco 49ers set out to prove something about their franchises this past weekend.

For the New York Giants, they wanted to prove their win against the Atlanta Falcons during Wildcard weekend was not a fluke, and they could beat the best team in the NFC the second time around. The 49ers wanted to prove their defense was for real, and they could defeat one of the NFL's most dynamic offenses. On their way to the NFC championship, both teams accomplished their goals.

One of the most impressive things about the Giants win over the Packers was that the Giants endured two very questionable calls that ultimately would have given them the ball, halting the Green Bay Packers from scoring. Regardless, the Giants kept pushing and used the arm of Eli Manning and the sure hands of Hakeem Nicks to earn them their first NFC championship bid since 2007, the year they defeated the New England Patriots in the Super Bowl.

For the 49ers, on Saturday, every concern San Francisco fans had about Alex Smith went out the window. With about two minutes left in the game, Smith ran 28 yards into the end zone on a crucial play that capped an impressive drive to give the 49ers the lead. The Saints would rumble back, however, as Drew Brees threw an impressive pass to tight end Jimmy Graham with only 1:37 left in the game. Even though most people believed the game to be over at that point, Alex Smith did not quit, and drove all the way down the field throwing a touchdown pass to Tight End Vernon Davis with nine seconds left on the clock. In that moment, San Francisco fans breathed a sigh of relief, as they now knew that their offense was capable of winning ball games for them as well.

With such impressive wins this past weekend, it's very hard to break this matchup down to a winner, but ultimately one team will defeat the other and move on to the Super Bowl. For me, this matchup comes down to a few things.

Will the San Francisco 49ers be able to get the same play from Alex Smith that they did against the Saints? While Smith was impressive and established himself as a capable quarterback, the New York Giants pass rush is no easy task to deal with. The way they rotate their defensive tackles, including rookie Jason Pierre Paul and Justin Tuck, confuses teams and it will be hard for San Francisco to limit their effectiveness.

Also, will the New York Giants be able to stop the 49ers running game with Frank Gore? If San Francisco is able to catch the Giants linebackers off balance and eat up some of the clock, it's possible they can keep Eli Manning on the sideline for a good period of the game and wear the Giants defense down.

In the end, though the 49ers have had an incredible season, the New York Giants have more weapons on offense, and it is really their game to lose. Their defense has also played more inspiring football lately holding the Green Bay Packers offense to only 20 points. If the 49ers are able to force Eli to make a few turnovers and take away some of their big plays, they can have success in this game. Otherwise, I expect Eli and company to complete their magical run and face the winner of the Patriots and Ravens in the Super Bowl.

Prediction: The Road Warrior Giants Defeat the 49ers 27-20.

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