NY Giants And SF 49ers In NFC Title Rematch

By: Michael Robinson | Thursday, October 11, 2012

The New York Giants and San Francisco 49ers have a rematch of last year’s NFC title game and could be hard pressed to equal the drama and excitement.

This 4:25 p.m. (ET) Sunday contest will be held at Candlestick Park, just like the last one. It’s a little surprising that it’s not a night game, but FOX was likely adamant in keeping the broadcast rights.

The Don Best Pro Odds screen has its own take with most outlets having San Francisco as solid 6½-point favorites with a total of 45½-46.

The Giants are the defending Super Bowl champs. They advanced to the Big Game with a dramatic 20-17 OT win in San Francisco last January. Two fumbled punts by Kyle Williams were the big difference.

Coach Tom Coughlin knows San Fran will have steam coming out of its ears and he’s looking for any psychological advantage. He was recently quoted as saying that "nobody gives us a chance to win" (referring to the NFC title this year) and he should feel a little disrespected with the Giants almost touchdown ‘dogs.

Remember these teams also met in the regular season last year with the 49ers winning 27-20 as 4-point home favorites. San Francisco is 10-1-1 ATS at home under coach Jim Harbaugh with the only loss in the conference title game.

The 49ers (4-1 straight up and against the spread) are deserving of all the hype so far. They embarrassed AFC East opponents the last two weeks at the Jets (34-0) and versus Buffalo (45-3). They racked up an average of 501 total yards and allowed just 174.5.

Quarterback Alex Smith has turned up his game with an NFL-best 108.7 rating. The team still doesn’t throw a lot (205 YPG, ranked 26th), but the 7.9 yards per attempt (ranked sixth) makes opposing defenses respect the passing game and not just focus on Frank Gore and the top-ranked rushing attack (196.2 YPG).

Smith has a couple of new weapons with Mario Manningham (126 yards) and Randy Moss (99 yards). Both have modest numbers, but could play a big factor on Sunday in addition to Michael Crabtree and tight end Vernon Davis. Manningham will be a little extra stoked having played for the G-Men last year.

The Giants (3-2 SU, 2-2-1 ATS) have had an up-and-down start with both losses coming within the NFC East to Dallas (24-17) and at Philly (19-17).

Last week’s game was a 41-27 win over Cleveland as 7½-point home favorites. That spread looks low in retrospect, but Cleveland actually led 17-7 before a 34-3 Giants run. Ahmad Bradshaw had 200 rushing yards on 30 attempts and he could have to carry the full load again with Andre Brown (concussion) questionable.

It’s going to be hard for New York to run no matter who carries the ball. San Fran is seventh in rushing defense (81.4 YPG), allowing just 3.5 per carry. That means the burden will likely fall to the passing attack.

Eli Manning is playing very confident and is second in the league in passing yards (316 YPG). That’s despite Hakeem Nicks missing the last three games with a knee injury (questionable this week). Manning will need to play great under a big pass rush and his five picks this year show he can be rushed into poor decisions.

The Giants have built their reputation as road warriors going back to last year’s playoffs. They’re 6-1 SU and 6-0-1 ATS in their last seven away (including the Super Bowl), ‘pushing’ that Philly defeat two weeks ago as 2-point ‘dogs.

The ‘under’ is 5-1 in New York’s last six away, the defense surrendering just 15.7 PPG.

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