Not to take us off the subject of the NFL draft but it's two weeks prior to the Super Bowl so lets look at the NFC Championship game this Sunday.
The NFL’s best weekend awaits us. The last two games remain, featuring the final four, the league’s elite teams, with the sights of each team set on punching a ticket to Indianapolis to compete in the Super Bowl, while the losers join the other 30 teams in preparing for next season.
Here’s the breakdown of the NFC Conference Championship game this weekend.
New York Giants at San Francisco 49ers
When: Saturday at 6:30 p.m. ET (FOX)
In the NFC divisional round this past weekend, the New York Giants overcame the underdog status to claim their spot in the 2012 NFC Championship Game. San Francisco came into the weekend as the two seed, and watched Green Bay fall apart against the Giants and no doubt cheered as road to Indianapolis was repaved to run through Candlestick Park. The game will be a rematch of their exciting Week 10 contest in which the 49ers held on late to win, 27-20.
The tales of these two franchises riddle the history of the postseason, where both have excelled in the past. The Giants and Niners have eight Super Bowl titles between the two teams, with the most recent in the 2007 season when the Giants defeated the Patriots. The game this Sunday will be will be their eighth postseason matchup, equaling the most matchups in NFL playoff history between any two teams.
Last Saturday the 49ers won in dramatic fashion, bringing to mind the old adage of defense winning championships as one of the best in the league slowed and eventually stopped the tough offensive unit of the New Orleans Saints. The aggressive defense of San Francisco faced the league’s leading passer Drew Brees, the man that finally broke Dan Marino’s 25 year old record of 5,084 passing yards in a season. However, the 49ers were able to fool New Orleans with their control of their air and on the ground games and upsetting the Saints in the last few seconds of the game. The 49ers are really known for playing outstanding defense all season, forcing 40 turnovers, lead by rookie Aldon Smith, who had 14 in his debut season. He’ll be focused on Eli Manning this weekend, who’d better keep an eye out. In the game last week quarterback Alex Smith threw for 299 yards and three touchdown passes and running in one himself.
The 49ers were able to grab the victory from Saints in theatrical —if not overwhelming—fashion, and in doing so they proved that their passing game is another weapon as lethal as that of any other team still in the race. Simultaneously they took significant pressure off their defense, proving they don’t always have to be the ones to carry the team to victory.
Then here come the mighty Giants; a team with a quarterback that has some experience in the Super Bowl. Without a doubt when it comes to the postseason the Giants are the hottest team ,and perhaps the most dangerous. This year quarterback Eli Manning really stepped up to the challenge of his own words, showing us that maybe he does belong in the same group as the other QB’s considered “elite” throughout the league. He passed for 4,933 yards and in the postseason through two games he has thrown for over 600, working to show that his name belongs in the same breath as his brother’s, Tom Brady’s, Aaron Rodgers’, and that of Drew Brees. Of course he should consider the fact that the 49ers just beat one of those QB’s, but so did the Giants. While thorughout the season the Giants have made their mark running the ball with a strong interior line, the last few weeks have highlighted their talented receiving group and seasoned QB playing in his prime. Manning has grown very comfortable with play action, fully embracing the powerful running game of the team. Defensively the Giants have an experienced group of veterans that play aggressively in the trenches, forcing turnovers and making life a living hell for opposing quarterbacks.
Really hard to say how this one could turnout but I believe the winner will come from winning the turnover battle, something San Francisco did against New Orleans, and have done all season. They showed they could play like true champions, making the big plays when it counted and simply not accepting a loss. On the other had the mighty G-man are not the Saints and play in a tougher division so at this point its anyone’s game. But with the 49ers playing at home I guess I have to go with Mr. Jim Harbaugh to punch his first ticket to the big dance.