The San Francisco 49ers will derail the New York Giants on Sunday and head to their first Super Bowl since Super Bowl XXIX in 1994. They're the better team and will look to complete one of the most improbable seasons in NFL history.
In what should be another classic between the Giants and 49ers at Candlestick Park, San Francisco undoubtedly has the upper hand.
Playing at home in front of their fans will energize this 49ers team as they try to stamp their tickets to Indianapolis in two weeks.
The Giants may have the better quarterback, but the 49ers have the better defense, running game, special teams and head coach this postseason.
The New York Giants should be a little concerned this week as they travel to San Francisco. The New Orleans Saints did them a disservice by letting a sleeping giant wake up from obscurity.
Before Jimmy Graham, Rob Gronkowski or Aaron Hernandez there was a different tight end everyone raved about. Vernon Davis reminded the entire league why he was consistently labeled as one of the best tight ends in the NFL just a couple years ago with his clutch game-winning reception last week.
Davis presents matchup problems for any defense. At 6'3", 250 pounds, Davis can get open in the red zone, streak down the field and shrug off defenders. He's bigger and more athletic than the majority of defensive players on the field any given week.
A quarterback's best friend is a reliable tight end. Alex Smith will be depending on Davis to be where he needs to be when the Giants pass rush penetrates the pocket.
Davis' biggest contribution will be in the red zone on Sunday. The San Francisco 49ers must take advantage of any and all opportunities inside the 20-yard line. San Fran has converted 8-of-13 red-zone visits to touchdowns in their last four games, which is a 61.5 scoring percentage.
That's not great, nor is it horrible. Davis will be Smith's main target to punch it in for seven and help provide their defense with some wiggle room.
The San Francisco 49ers far and away had the No. 1 rushing defense all season long. The 49ers did not allow a rushing touchdown until Week 16, nor had they allowed a rusher to surpass 100 yards on the ground since 2009 until Week 16 when Marshawn Lynch broke both streaks.
It's no secret why the New York Giants have made it this far in the playoffs. There's three factors that started their run: They've been in playoff mode since Week 16, their defensive line is healthy and performing and their run game has found its stride.
Eli Manning has played exceptionally all season long, but until the last four weeks he did not have great support from his running backs. Manning has benefited greatly from defenses having to worry about the run.
San Francisco will look to do what they've done all year: take away the running game. If they make the Giants one-dimensional, New York will struggle to beat the vaunted 49ers defense through the air alone.
The Niners defense has only allowed 3.5 yards per carry and an average of 77.3 yards total on the ground. New York has averaged 122 yards on the ground in their last four games.
When San Francisco shuts down Brandon Jacobs and Ahmad Bradshaw, they'll be making their first trip to the Super Bowl since 1994.
Special teams will play a big part in Sunday's game at Candlestick Park. The game should follow suit with Vegas' 2-point line.
The forecast this weekend in San Francisco is rain, and lots of it. It's not going to be pretty.
Candlestick Park's sodding will be torn apart and converted into a backyard mud pit by the end of the first quarter.
Special teams units will come into play big time Sunday. Field position and field goals could be the deciding factor by time it's all said and done.
David Akers and Ted Guinn have helped the San Francisco 49ers excel in all three facets of the game throughout the season.
Ginn has averaged 12.3 yards per return on punts and 27.6 yards per return on kickoffs during the regular season. Ginn had two punt returns for 23 total yards last week versus the New Orleans Saints.
David Akers has been enjoying one of the better seasons of his career. The 49ers kicker hit 44 of 52, including seven from 50 yards or more during the regular season. Akers nailed all three extra points and three field goals from 25,41, and 37 last week.
If Ginn and punter Andy Lee can help control the field position game and Akers continues to drill kicks, the Niners will gain the upper hand in what will likely be an ugly game.
To piggyback the previous slide, Frank Gore will have a big game in the rain if the San Francisco 49ers are to go to the Super Bowl.
The New York Giants defensive line has been tearing through offenses throughout the past month and getting the ground game going with Gore will neutralize that. The last thing New York wants on defense is No. 21 busting into the second and third levels of their defense.
Gore has had an exceptional year overall, but the majority of his finer games during this season took place in the first half of the regular season. He ran for 100 yards or more in five consecutive games between Week 4 and Week 8.
Since then, Gore's highest rushing total was last week with 89 yards on 13 carries against the New Orleans Saints' top-10 run defense. The bye week leading up to the divisional round game seemed to rejuvenate San Fran's work horse.
The Giants ended the season as the 19th-best run defense in the league, which should be a little concerning for Giants fans. They allowed just 64 rushing yards at home against the Atlanta Falcons, but gave up 147 rushing yards to a pass-first offense at Lambeau Field last week.
Gore received his rest, re-focused and got back on track last week against New Orleans averaging 6.85 yards per carry.
If San Francisco is treated with a similar performance or better, New York's defense could be in for a long day.
If I had a vote for Coach of the Year, without hesitation it would be Jim Harbaugh. What he's done with this franchise in less than a year with a short offseason due to the lockout has been nothing short of remarkable.
For me, it's easily one of the best coaching jobs in the NFL of the past decade and possibly ever if they win the Super Bowl. He took a 6-10, middling franchise and a severely underwhelming quarterback to the NFC Championship in his first season.
There's things about this team that have separated them from their competition all season.
The defense plays fast, hits hard and creates turnovers. The offense runs the ball efficiently, dictates time of possession and doesn't turn the ball over. The special teams are incredibly consistent and reliable.
The entire team is disciplined and they have been since Week 1. The San Francisco 49ers have tested teams' discipline all season with different gimmicks and unorthodox calls.
When the New York Giants traveled out to San Francisco in Week 10, Harbaugh tested their attentiveness with an onside kick in the second quarter during a game tied 6-6. He let his veteran place-kicker work his magic.
Little things like knowing when to make an off-beat call can win you a game.
Most importantly, though, is that the players respond to Harbaugh. He has instilled belief and confidence within this team.
You can see that this team wants to win for him.
A picture says a thousand words. Vernon Davis' celebration after the game-winning touchdown tells you all you need to know about Harbaugh.
He'll have 'em ready on Sunday.
Justin Sparks is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report @JustinSparks22