New York Giants vs. San Francisco 49ers: Preview and Prediction

Brad Gagnon@Brad_Gagnon NFL National ColumnistOctober 13, 2012

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - JANUARY 22:  Quarterback Eli Manning #10 of the New York Giants calls signals out at the line of scrimmage behind center David Baas #64 against the San Francisco 49ers during the NFC Championship Game at Candlestick Park on January 22, 2012 in San Francisco, California.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

I'm sure you've heard by now that the New York Giants' next opponent—San Francisco—has crushed its last two opponents by a combined score of 79-3. And while the Giants have played well of late, too, they've still been starting slow. They've fallen behind in the first half against four of their first five opponents.

In San Fran, they can't afford to do so. Here's a final primer for Sunday's key NFC matchup.


What New York Must Do to Win, Offensive Edition

Start strong and take some shots. They fell behind 14-0 to bloody Cleveland last week. If that happens here, this game will be over. With San Francisco's pass rush struggling a bit early this season, the Giants have to take advantage early with their passing game.


What New York Must Do to Win, Defensive Edition

Shut down Frank Gore and the league's top-rated running game. It's that simple.


How New York Can Lose

By letting Gore and/or Kendall Hunter get to the edges and establish momentum, setting things up for the Niners' passing game.


5 Most Important non-Quarterbacks

Victor Cruz, Jason Pierre-Paul, Osi Umenyiora, Keith Rivers, Linval Joseph

Cruz will be the key target for Eli Manning in a good matchup with Carlos Rogers. Pierre-Paul and Umenyiora will lead the pass rush, which is always integral to what Big Blue does. And Rivers and Joseph will be large factors in limiting the 49ers on the ground. I put Rivers here instead of Michael Boley and Chase Blackburn because I think he should play a bigger role Sunday (assuming he's healthy).


Injury Analysis, Giants Edition

Out: Rocky Bernard (quadricep), Andre Brown (concussion), Kenny Phillips (knee)

Not having Phillips hurts, but Stevie Brown has at least looked good.

Questionable: David Diehl (knee), Hakeem Nicks (foot, knee), Corey Webster (hand, hamstring)

Webster has struggled this year and they've survived without Nicks, but this is one of those games where they badly need their No. 1 wideout and their No. 1 corner. Both traveled to San Francisco, which is a good sign.

Probable: Ramses Barden (concussion), Martellus Bennett (knee), Chase Blackburn (hip), Michael Boley (hip), Jayron Hosley (hamstring), Keith Rivers (hamstring), Antrel Rolle (knee)

Getting Barden back could be huge for the offense because of the mismatches he should be able to draw on the outside. Same goes for Rivers, whom they need to help limit Gore and Hunter. 


Injury Analysis, 49ers Edition

Questionable: Brandon Jacobs (knee)

Probable: Andy Lee (hand), Alex Smith (right finger)

Assuming Smith isn't thrown off by the finger, injuries won't be a factor for the Niners this week.


B/R NFC East Blog Prediction

I believe the Giants can stick with San Francisco when they're at their best, but right now there are still too many men down and the defense still has too many question marks for me to give them a victory across the country, on the road against the league's hottest team.

49ers 26, Giants 21