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If you had lingering doubts about the surprising San Francisco 49ers, their performance on Saturday against the Saints surely answered them.
At times their high-leverage defense flummoxed New Orleans, building an advantage that turned the Saints offense into a one-dimensional extension of Drew Brees' right arm.
But we already knew they could do that based on statistics that rated them the league's fourth best defense over the course of the 2011 season.
Even more impressive was the way their offense compensated when that defense fell flat. The 49ers don't prefer to play open on offense, but proved they could when necessary.
Down twice in the final minutes against New Orleans, quarterback Alex Smith made a lasting impression with big throw after big throw. Perhaps there is more to Smith's game than smarts, efficiency and ball security.
That dimension added, San Francisco looks particularly strong heading into Sunday's showdown. Vernon Davis is a viable downfield threat against a suspect Giants linebacking corps/safety tandem, and San Francisco's always-reliable running game can help keep New York's ferocious pass rush honest.
On a less nuanced plane, San Francisco (7-1 at Candlestick) has a home game against a team they beat once already and finished four games ahead of in the regular-season standings.
So yeah, they can win this thing.