Here are 3 blog posts I wrote this week on what what should be a great game, possibly the best matchup in the playoffs.
NFC title game, 2 great defenses
Heres a thought, lets assume because its wet both the 49ers and the Giants want to run the ball. And lets further assume both defenses are slowing if not stopping the run. And lets assume that Alex Smith, who has a reputation as a game manager, showed his growth against the Saints by throwing strikes and orchestrating 2 drives, leading his team to 2 TD's. Lets assume those 2 drives are the improved Alex Smith, and the Giants will face that improved Alex Smith.
So both defenses have stopped the run, and the 2 quarterbacks now have to throw the ball to win the game. Who do you think can carry his team to victory?
Thats why I have changed my view of this game, I was thinking GIants by 3, I'm now thinking GIants by 5.
49ers star TE is scary good.
Vernon Davis is 6'3", 250 pounds and runs a 4.38 40 yard dash. Vernon Davis is a second faster than Victor Cruz. The Giants defensive backs have some decent speed: Corey Webster: 4.5, Aaron Ross: 4.41, Antrel Rolle: 4.48, Prince Amukamara ran a 4.43 at the combine, but squeaked out a 4.38 on his proday. Matching up with Davis's speed is going to be an issue, bumping Davis in the first 5 yards will be crucial. The Giants have been great at defending Tight Ends the last 4 weeks, Chase Blackburn has been a key factor in the middle, but don't expect Blackburn (4.69) to run with Davis.
Against the Saints Davis benefited from some inside out technique by 2 DB's, Davis's speed means he can run by 2 DB's playing inside out. Downfield, bracketing Davis with 2 players is vital in making sure DAvis gets tackled after he makes his catch.
On shorter timing routes Davis may see a variety of double teams. The Giants covered these routes well in the Green Bay game and Perry Fewells schemes have done well in defending the middle the last 4 games.
Look to see Blackburn bump Davis and cover a crossing route in an underneath zone, with help from from a safety, as Davis runs thru the zone, Blackburn might hand off Davis to the next player in the zone. The Giants have been doing this well since Blackburns return, they've also down it with man and zone in the back end. Then to mix things up rookie safety Tyler Sash will play on run downs, he's a good box type safety who has a nose for the ball, 13 picks and 13 pass defenses in college.
The Giants defense is going to have to play lights out to slow down Vernon Davis, I can see Fewell mixing things up to keep Davis under control and it means QB Alex Smith will have to avoid the rush while deciphering the varying defensive schemes.
I wrote this next post right after the Green Bay game, I soon became more wary of the 49ers defense, special teams, and Alex Smith showing his stuff in leading SF to 2 TD drives to win against the Saints, by thursday I thought this could be a 1 point game, certainly a battle won by a field goal. Gameday around noon, I thought I might be a bit riske~ and finalize at Giants by 5. I'm not entirely convinced though, I think there is at least a 40% chance this is a field goal or less game.
In the last 4 games, Giants have better offense and defense
The Giants score an average of 30.25 points per game over the last 4 games, while the 49ers have averaged 27.25. NYG have scored 121 pts vs the 49ers 109 over 4 games. While on defense the Giants allow 12 points and the 49ers average 19.75 pts per game. NYG defense has allowed 48 pts.game over 4 games, 49ers allowed 79 pts over 4 games.
But for some reason Vegas wants to pick the 49ers?
Looking at the above numbers, the offensive averages are close, but the defensive numbers are glaringly different, nearly 8 points. Before the Atlanta game I had no clue the Giants defense would blank Atlanta, and I thought the Giants would beat Green Bay by 6, not 17. So on Monday afternoon, I'm picking the Giants by 8 points.