NFL Playoff Picks: Last-Minute Pick for Giants vs. 49ers NFC Championship Game

Jon DoveContributor IJanuary 22, 2012

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - JANUARY 14:  Alex Smith #11 of the San Francisco 49ers looks to pass from the pocket during the NFC Divisional playoff game against the New Orleans Saints at Candlestick Park on January 14, 2012 in San Francisco, California.  (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

Both the San Francisco 49ers and New York Giants are playing at a very high level, but today's matchup favors the 49ers.

New York's late-season charge will come to an end today in Candlestick Park, where Jim Harbaugh and the 49ers will cap off their impressive season.

The matchups and playing styles of both teams favors San Francisco. New York's defense is about generating pressure on the quarterback and getting their three big-time pass-rushers on the field.

This poses a problem, as the 49ers like to line up in run-heavy formations and pound the ball with Frank Gore. Having Justin Tuck, Jason Pierre-Paul and Osi Umenyiora on the field helps create pressure but makes them weaker against the run.

The Giants may be forced to keep one of their top pass-rushers off the field and sub in a bigger run stuffer.

Vernon Davis and Alex Smith are entering today's game with a ton of confidence. This will have a major impact on the play of Smith, as quarterbacks playing with confidence tend to have success.

Davis' combination of size and quickness makes him a matchup nightmare. Even the extremely talented Antrel Rolle will have a tough time neutralizing the explosive Davis. Any extra attention given to him will allow others like Michael Crabtree to make an impact.

On the defensive side of the ball, San Francisco will force the Giants to become one-dimensional. The 49ers excel at shutting down the opponent's rushing attack. This will force New York into a lot of 3rd-and-long situations where Aldon Smith can attack the edge and create pressure.

Probably the most underrated part of the 49ers defense is their secondary. Carlos Rogers, Dante Whitner, Tarrel Brown and Dashon Goldson play very well as a unit. Last week, their play was one of the key factors in the 49ers' win over the New Orleans Saints.

Expect to see San Francisco dominating the time of possession and Alex Smith to come up with a handful of big plays. This will be a closely contested game that'll likely come down to a turnover or last-second drive.