In a rematch of the NFC Championship game, the New York Giants travel to San Francisco in a clash of NFL heavyweights.
The 49ers are 4-1, with the lone loss coming against the surprising Minnesota Vikings. The Giants, conversely, are 3-2.
San Francisco has begun to air it out a bit more this season, but it's still a running team at its core.
The 49ers lead the league in rush yards per game, averaging a whopping 196.2 yards. Frank Gore, the leading rusher, has rushed for 434 yards on 79 carries, good for a healthy 5.9 yards per carry. That's not to mention Kendall Hunter, who has rushed for 201 yards on 37 carries.
The Niners have a punishing offensive line, and it is hard to get any penetration against them.
The Giants, on the other hand, have struggled defending the run. They have given up an average of 111.4 yards per game, good for 16th in the league. Two weeks ago, they gave up 123 yards to LeSean McCoy.
This does not have the look of a favorable matchup for the Giants. The Niners can run the ball better than anyone in the league. Frank Gore flies under the radar, but he's been one of the best runners in the league over the past few years. Kendall Hunter is an able backup. That's not to mention the new threat of Colin Kaepernick, who has rushed for 106 yards on only 10 carries. He adds a dimension of the Wildcat that the Giants have traditionally struggled against.
The Giants defense is banged up. Keith Rivers is expected back from a hamstring injury that has sidelined him for the last two weeks, but it is unknown how effective he will be. Defensive tackle Rocky Bernard is out with a quadriceps injury, and he's a valuable cog in the defensive line rotation. Safety Kenny Phillips is also out. Middle linebacker Chase Blackburn is dealing with a hip injury, although he's expected to play. Still, this is not the full Giants defense, and it doesn't help that their pass rush has not been its usual dominant self.
The 49ers have the best run offense. The Giants have just a mediocre run defense. In fact, the Giants defense as a whole is just mediocre. Their three wins have come on the strength of their offense. The 49ers should be able to control the clock with their run game and keep the Giants offense off the field. They will feed Gore and Hunter, as well as mix it up with Kaepernick, as much as possible. And the Giants will be powerless to stop it.
Look for the 49ers to pound the rock and use it to their advantage as they head toward a victory Sunday afternoon.