Friday, November 11, 2011

49ers vs. Giants this Sunday

There are a couple of factors that I believe will weigh heavily on the outcome of this game (in truth, there are certainly more than a couple).
  1. Psychology
    • The 49ers are 5 games up in the NFC West.  That takes the pressure off.  They're going to be able to try new things and take risks with little to no worries.  Let's be honest - after 9 weeks, the 49ers have this thing locked up and they're going to the Play-Offs!
    • The Giants are only 2 games up in their division.  They've got the Cowboys and Eagles that could creep up as they take care of business through the 2nd half of the season.  The Giants feel like this is a must-win, so while they're likely to be amped, there is a bit of pressure there.
    • Advantage: 49ers
  2. Running Game
    • The Giants prefer their passing game.  They have 710 Rushing Yards as a team for this season.  Frank Gore has 782 by himself!  So, the Giants have already put it out there - they plan to stop Frank Gore to win.
    • The 49ers know this going into the game and they've got nothing to lose.  I think we'll see more from the Playblook this game and, yes, the 49ers will go to Gore here and there, but I think they plan to mix it up and throw them off.  Besides, the 49ers have a better running game.
    • Advantage: 49ers
  3. Passing Game
    • Manning has nearly 1,000 yards in passing more than Smith and 5 more touchdowns to boot.  Let's face it - the 49ers rely on their Defense and their running game.  The Giants, admittedly have a more balanced Offense vs Defense.  Today, the Giants are better Offensively on any day compared to the 49ers
    • Smith's pressure to produce will be relieved by Harbaugh's coaching and game strategy.  The 49ers are not going out there for a must-win, but they've got some plays they really want to try and I think we're going to see Smith throw a bit more that usual.  He's learned some things over the years and he's throwing less interceptions, so his decision-making has improved and I predict we'll see better offensive production if the Offensive line stops Jason Pierre-Paul who has 10 sacks already this season.  Smith will stick more often with the short route passing game.
    • Advantage: Giants
  4. Defense
    • Defense is not all about tackles and interceptions.  But if you're counting, the Giants have more sacks and overall tackles and they match the 49ers in interceptions.  But the 49ers are better in the red zone and they wear down on a team that relies on passing.
    • Getting back to psychology, what are the Giants focused on? Answer: Gore and the 49ers Defense.  And what are the 49ers focused on?  Answer: Confusing the Giants, taking out the key producers, and putting pressure on the passing game.
    • Advantage: None - Tie
In the end, while both teams will remain leaders in their respective divisions no matter the outcome, they will both be aiming to prove which is the better team.  The Giants have faced more NFC West teams that the 49ers at this point in the season, and they lost to Seattle and Washington - two team the 49ers have beat.  While the Giants can claim Eli as the more accomplished QB, I think the match-up favors the 49ers.

And, yes, I'm biased.  But after a hard-fought game, the 49ers should come out of this at 8 and 1.

***11/14 UPDATE!!!***

Okay, so I have to brag that I called it - I was pretty much completely on-the-money!  Alex Smith upped his passing game - he did quite well with 63% completion rate.  The 49ers scored 15 points in the 4th quarter to earn their 8 and 1 record and to maintain the sole ownership of 2nd best record in the NFL.  Onto the Cardinals next Sunday!

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