Giants vs. 49ers: The Simple Way New York Beats San Francisco
While the players from those games are gone, the location remains the same. The Giants travel to Candlestick Park to take on the San Francisco 49ers in a battle for the second overall spot in the NFC and a possible playoff bye.
Jim Harbaugh has made the Niners a winner, something that several former head coaches couldn't do.
With a 7-1 record, only the undefeated Green Bay Packers have a better league record. The Niners are doing it with a great running game, a great defense and lack of turnovers. The stats don't impress you on the offensive side, but they still put up 26 points per game.
The defense is ranked eighth overall and No. 1 against the run. Pro Bowl MLB Patrick Willis is a monster in the middle.
Now asked to do more in pass coverage, the Niners have found a great complement to Willis in NaVorro Bowman. Bowman is the team's leading tackler. Other key additions Carlos Rogers and Donte Whitner have improved the secondary.
The Giants are flying high following yet another come-from-behind victory over the New England Patriots.
With five come-from-behind victories on the season, Eli Manning has proven that he is an elite QB. Even without a good running game, the Giants have the 11th-best offense in the NFL, averaging about 24 points per game.The offense knows how to make plays with the game on the line.
On the defensive side of the ball, if the Giants have the lead, look out quarterback.
Justin Tuck, Jason Pierre-Paul and Osi Umenyiora know how to sack the QB. The Giants have 28 sacks as a team. While the defense doesn't rank high in most categories, they make plays to get off the field. The secondary has 10 interceptions and 12 fumble recoveries.
The game looks to be a toss up, but if the Giants do some simple things, they will walk away winners. Here is what the Giants need to do to beat the Niners.
Make Ted Ginn a Non-Factor
The Giants' special teams over the last three weeks have made return games disappear.
Steve Weatherford has been booming punts all season for the Giants. He is averaging 45 yards per punt and grossing 40 yards. With the Giants' directional kicking, returners have been a non-factor.
No big returns, no way the Niners score more than 20 points against the Giants' defense.
Throw to Run
The Giants' running game has been struggling.
Even when Ahmad Bradshaw was healthy, the Giants couldn't get much going on the ground. Now Brandon Jacobs inherits the ball and will be keyed. Forget about trying to establish Jacobs early, come out throwing.
Ride the hot hand in Eli Manning. The return of Hakeem Nicks should open up things in the passing game, allowing Victor Cruz and Mario Manningham to get open. Jake Ballard has made plays when called upon as well, so the Giants are covered in all areas.
The pass protection has been very good for the most part this season; the Giants need to keep using their weapons on the outside to set things up on the ground. San Francisco is good at rushing the passer but struggles in coverage.
Throwing early will loosen up things for Jacobs and Ballard.
Let Antrel Rolle Be a Playmaker
Antrel Rolle has been done a great job playing the nickle corner for the Giants this year.
Even though Rolle is a Pro Bowl safety, Rolle has done what is asked of him at CB until Prince Amukamara was ready to play. With Prince all but set to make his debut this week, time for Rolle to go back to being the Pro Bowl safety the Giants signed him to be.
Rolle simply makes plays.
This is a matchup the Giants have to love. Rolle reading Alex Smith equals advantage NY Giants. Expect Rolle to come up with a play or two for the Giants this week.
Use Kiwi and JPP More Than Osi
As much as Osi Umenyiora is a great pass rusher, he can be run on.
The Giants easily can correct that problem by using Jason Pierre-Paul on early downs and also using Mathias Kiwanuka as a run stuffer. Kiwanuaka is having a Pro Bowl season as an linebacker/defensive end.
Jason Pierre-Paul is a monster. Leading the team in sacks is great, but I'm more impressed with how well he plays against the run. With Tuck controlling the right side of the line of scrimmage, look for JPP to do the same on the left side.
Osi can come in and just go after Smith. The San Francisco offensive line is good at creating lanes for running the football, but struggles in pass protection.
Osi against a bad offensive line—not good news for Alex Smith.
Don't Come out Flat
With an impressive road win against the Patriots and the Eagles to play next week, the Giants can't come out flat.
They need to be focused against the 49ers or they will be smashed into submission. Frank Gore will be stuffed down the Giants' throats until they stop it.
Its up to the coaching staff to get this team ready to play.
This game will not be easy. The Giants can't afford to look ahead because this team can beat them.
The Niners are what coach Coughlin wants the Giants to be—a strong rushing team and great defensive team.
This game will be a street fight. Whoever can control the line of scrimmage will win this game.
The Niners don't want this game in the hands of Alex Smith to make plays. He hasn't done it for most of his career and I don't expect him to do it now.
Eli Manning must continue to play at the MVP level he has shown this season. Keep it simple and take what they give you. No need to force things against a defense that looks for takeaways. Use Nicks, Cruz and Ballard to soften the defense and then give it to the big fella.
First team to get to 20 will win. If the Giants are able to stuff the Niners' running game, I don't see how Smith wins the game.
GIANTS 21 SF 17
Giants go to 7-2 and drop the Niners to 7-2. Not to worry SF fans, you will be a two-seed for the playoffs and have the division wrapped up by the second week in December.
Giants keep their two-game lead over the Cowboys and return home to knock out the Dream Team.