When New York is running: There is nary a run defense more stingy up front than the 49ers, but there is nary a dual backfield more challenging than the one Big Blue puts on the field. Ultimately, though, 80% of running the ball these days is offensive line. The Giants O-line is not what it used to be, and this 49ers line is in its prime. Edge: San Francisco, slightly.
When New York is throwing: The Giants had 20 points, 395 yards, and 2 turnovers in the first meeting. They only had two worse performances since week 1. Eli is clicking great with his receivers, but this is a secondary that made clutch plays last week against Drew Brees as well. Edge: Even.
When San Francisco is running: The Giants had been much weaker in pass defense than run defense during the regular season (after week 8, only one team ran for more than 136, until the Packers ran for 147 in the postseason). Like most teams, the run defense has stepped it up in the postseason. This is more of a gut call than anything, because I love the duo of Frank Gore and Kendall Hunter. Edge: New York, slightly.
When San Francisco is throwing: The 49ers are facing a fiercer pass rush than they faced in the first game. But, Frank Gore left hurt after getting 6 carries for 0 yards. This time, the run game will keep the Giants honest and Alex Smith and Jim Harbaugh will have the right game plan to attack a Giants secondary that allowed 28 TDs in the regular season. Edge: San Francisco, slightly.
PREDICTION: It’s tough to pick against Eli Manning, who’s won 6 of his last 7 postseason games, 5 of them on the road. I’m sure Eli can throw in the rain, but ultimately I believe the Giants‘ weaknesses in the secondary will be most affected by the field conditions. The Giants seem to be playing loose and for each other, and that seems to be even more true for the “blue collar” 49ers. 49ers 19, Giants 16.
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