The Giants and the Niners renew their storied rivalry today at Candelstick Park in San Francisco at 6:30 EST. This one should be a good old fashioned battle of wills. Those of us who remember the match-up from January of ’91, are really looking forward to a battle royale. However, there really are a few keys to this game that ensure victory for the New Yorkers. Forget the rain, forget the wind, and forget the mirror image 4 game winning streaks. This game will be decided up front.
Offensive Line: The offensive line must protect Eli today at all costs. They must find a way to open a few running lanes to allow the Giants to use the play action pass effectively. The Niners have a very talented defensive front which recorded 3 sacks last week. The Giants did rush for 89 yards in the last meeting in week 10, without Ahmad Bradshaw. Bradshaw’s presence should make a big difference in this game. His physicality along with Brandon Jacobs could be a key to this game.
Defense: The defense can turn this into a simple task. They need to stop the run game of the Niners, force them into throwing the ball, and invite Alex Smith to beat them. Alex looked good in the final quarter last week, but he saw one look from the Saints defense. The Saints repeatedly brought 7 to 8 players on blitzes, which is actually a very easy read for the Qb. This week he will see the Giants rush 4 or 5, and see many more defenders in coverage. The Giants must remain physical when playing the wideouts and especially the tight ends of the Niners. Throwing off the rhythm of the San Francisco offense as they did against Atlanta and Green Bay is critical.
Eli vs. Alex: No matter which side of the stadium you are on this week, this match-up is one sided. If the Giants can make this a game of QB vs. Qb by restricting the running game of the Niners, they win.
No turnovers, No special teams mistakes, and the Giants should win their 5th game in a row as well as their 5th NFC Championship in 5 tries. Physicality, Determination, and Finishing will get the Giants a re-match with either Baltimore or New England in two weeks