NFC Championship Breakdown Pick

The San Francisco 49ers will host the New York Giants for the right to be NFC Champions and play in Super Bowl XLVI. The 49ers are a 2.5 point favorite in most sportsbooks.

Many football fans still don’t respect the 49ers season and continue to wait for the hammer to fall. Many believe the dominant Niners defense is the only reason why they are in the NFC Championship and Alex Smith still has many doubters.

The 49ers were 13-3 this year and earned the number two seed. They were in every game they played and the three losses were against Dallas in overtime back in week two (27-24), at Baltimore 16-6 in Primetime on Thanksgiving in what many people billed as the Harbaugh bowl and a 21-19 road loss in Arizona. They are road tested with road wins over the Bengals, Eagles, Lions and Redskins.

It was a small coming out party for Alex Smith who many inside the 49ers organization didn’t believe that Smith was the future quarterback but new head coach Jim Harbaugh never wavered and stood by his quarterback since he strolled in to San Francisco. Smith completed 61.3% of his passes on the season with 273 completions on 445 attempts, good for a 7.07 average. He tossed 17 touchdowns with only 5 interceptions. Smith finished with a 90.7 RAT.

San Francisco had two quality wins at home over the Giants (27-20) and the Steelers (203). The Giants were back in November and the Steelers were on December 19th against a hobbled Ben Roethlisberger. Other home wins for the Niners include a 33-17 win over Seattle, a 48-3 thrashing of the Buccaneers and wins against the Browns, Cardinals and Rams. Last week in the divisional playoffs, San Francisco outplayed (both offensively and defensively) the Saints in a 36-32 win. New Orleans was predicted by many to go to the Super Bowl.

The 49ers were 7-0-1 ATS at home and 8-3 ATS as a favorite.

Make no mistake, defense is the identity of the San Francisco 49ers. They were 1st in total defense in the NFC and 1st in rushing defense in the NFC. On total offense, they were on the bottom of the NFC at 14th.

The New York Giants got hot at the right time. After losing 23-10 at home to Washington on December 18th, the Giants needed two win the last two regular season games over the Jets and Cowboys to win the NFC East at 8-8 and earn a first round home playoff game. They dominated the Falcons at home on way to a 27-2 win.

The G-Men are a Jekyll and Hyde team this year. They are as capable as anyone as they showed last week with a dominating 37-20 win in Green Bay over the defending Super Bowl champions. The Giants are very streaky. After starting the season with a loss, they reeled off three straight wins and 6 out of 7 to start 6-2. But they also left Giants fans scratching their heads at times with a home loss to Seattle, and four straight losses at the end of November that had many wondering if not only could the Giants make the playoffs but would Tom Coughlin be fired at the end of the year.

With record setting years other quarterbacks like Rodgers, Brady and Brees had this year, Eli Manning had flown under the radar for much of the year but Manning, who already has one Super Bowl title, clearly has established himself as one of the elite quarterbacks. Manning tossed 440+ yards three times this year and another five 300+ games. He set a record by throwing 15 4th quarter touchdowns this year. His final regular season numbers show 359 for 589, good for a 61% completion rate and 4,933 yards. He tossed 29 touchdowns with 16 picks and ended up with a 92.9 RAT. When the Giants were down in any game this year, Manning was at his best, going 226-for-3655 for 3,063 years with 21 touchdowns and 9 picks. His RAT during these times was a 100.2.

I am willing to give the 49ers their due on a phenomenal season but I like Tom Coughlin in revenge situations. Eli Manning should be the difference and I am looking for the Giants to win this game outright in a low scoring game.

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