Giants vs. 49ers: Keys to Another Upset Victory for New York

Michael MillSenior Analyst IIIJanuary 21, 2012

GREEN BAY, WI - JANUARY 15:  Mario Manningham #82 of the New York Giants celebrates with his teammates Victor Cruz #80 and  Hakeem Nicks #88 after catching a four yard touchdown pass in the fourth quarter against the Green Bay Packers during their NFC Divisional playoff game at Lambeau Field on January 15, 2012 in Green Bay, Wisconsin.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

The New York Giants have been on fire in recent weeks.

Back in Week 15 they suffered a miserable 23-10 loss to division rival Washington Redskins. The loss put them at a 7-7 record with slim chances of making the postseason.

Even if they managed to squeak in, nobody gave them a shot getting past the first round.

The offense was one dimensional. The defense couldn't stop a thing.

Then, suddenly, they got hot.

They smacked the New York Jets the following week. They beat the Cowboys in Dallas to win the NFC East in the final week of the regular season.

They smothered the Atlanta Falcons with a 24-2 win in the Wild Card Round of the playoffs. They beat the top seed Green Bay Packers the following week.

Now, they are one game away from reaching the Super Bowl. All that stands in the way is the San Francisco 49ers.

The Giants have been the underdogs for weeks. They are again this week. Here are three keys for them to pull off another upset.


1. Win the Turnover Battle

How did the San Francisco 49ers pull off the miraculous win over the New Orleans Saints?

They created turnovers and didn't turn the ball over themselves. It's the way the 49ers have won games all season.

They forced three fumbles and two interceptions against the Saints. They only turned the ball over once on a fumble.

The Giants need to protect the football at all times. The 49ers look to create turnovers and they almost always capitalize off of them.

Smart football is the biggest key to victory.


2. Attack the Secondary

The Giants struggled all season running the football. It wasn't until recent weeks that they really got into any sort of rhythm running the ball.

This week, they should basically abandon it.

Obviously, they need to keep the defense honest, but running the ball will have very limited success against the 49ers. The weakness is the secondary.

That's good for New York, since Eli Manning is playing the best football of his career.


3. Make Alex Smith Beat You

The New Orleans Saints made it clear that if they were going to lose, it was going to be because of Alex Smith.

Smith stepped up to the challenge and beat them.

The 49ers are going to try to control the clock. They want to punch you in the mouth and grind out the clock by running the ball.

The Giants can't let them do that. If San Francisco is going to win, it needs to be because Alex Smith wins the game.

He did it one week. I don't have confidence that the former No. 1 pick can do it again.