Giants vs. 49ers: Which Defense Do You Want Heading into Championship Sunday?

Jeffrey SchmidtCorrespondent IIIJanuary 19, 2012

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - NOVEMBER 13:  New York Giants head coach Tom Coughlin shakes hands with San Francisco 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh after their game at Candlestick Park on November 13, 2011 in San Francisco, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

The San Francisco 49ers. The New York Giants. The NFC Championship. A battle of two teams that are playing at the highest level in all three phases of the game at just the right time.

Most would take the Giants offense, while most would agree that the 49ers have the edge on special teams, but which defense would you feel more comfortable with heading into Sunday's big game?

The Giants and 49ers have played in some of the greatest playoff games in history. The two teams have met a total of seven times, with the 49ers having the edge with a 4-3 record. This year will be the second time the two have met for the NFC Championship, with the first championship game ending in a 15-13 victory for the Giants.

To me though, history and past games don't matter. The only thing that matters is which team wants it more, and which team is clicking at the right time. The "it" being the chance to play in the biggest game of an NFL player's career: the Super Bowl. 

The road to the NFC Championship certainly was not easy for either team, as both teams took two entirely different paths to come to get where they are now. 

The Giants have been strong on offense while experiencing their fair share of struggles on defense until the playoffs, while the 49ers have been, in my eyes, the most consistent all season on defense, but have just recently started to move into fifth gear on offense after being stuck in third.  

When we look at the defenses, the Giants have the points-allowed advantage over the 49ers when looking at each team's last five games. New York is only giving up 14.6 points per game compared to the 19.6 points that San Francisco has allowed.

The Giants have surrendered just 22 points in two playoff games, with 20 of those going to the defending Super Bowl champion Green Bay Packers, who averaged 35 points per game throughout the season.  

The Giants also edge out the 49ers in yards allowed over their last five with just 313.2 a game compared to the 49ers' 352.4.

The 49ers, however, are the more physical out of the two and they have backed that up with four more forced turnovers during that span while allowing 15 fewer rushing yards per game. San Francisco showed that they can make plays in the secondary against the New Orleans Saints, but they also were exposed by allowing Drew Brees and company to toss for 435 yards.  

The key to this game for the Giants will be how well they play against the run while it is the opposite for the 49ers. San Francisco should be able to shut down the Giants running game, but can they contain Eli Manning and the passing game? 

Only time will tell, but expect a back-and-forth game that goes down to the wire nonetheless.