NFL

NFC Championship Game: New York Giants at San Francisco

It’s easy to look at the first New York versus San Francisco matchup this year and to assume that it was a game where the offense were good, but not great. Everything is relative, but both offenses played pretty well, they just did not get 80 yard Victor Cruz touchdowns or 50 yard Frank Gore runs.

The difference in that first game, in addition to a costly turnover in the fourth quarter that set up the 49ers final touchdown, and the stand in the final minute by San Francisco, was first down. New York moved the ball down the field all day, but did not get big plays on first down. Of the 28 first downs that the Giants had in the game, they ended up picking up another first down, or a touchdown, on 21 of them, a fantastic 75% rate. New York only averaged 4.8 yards per play on first down, though.

Meanwhile, the 49ers were pretty aggressive throwing the ball on first down in that earlier matchup, and averaged 7.6 yards on first down. If the Giants got San Francisco in third and long, they had the advantage, but the 49ers often stayed out of those situations.

That first matchup would have been much higher scoring but for performance near the red zone, as both teams bogged down. San Francisco kicked 4 field goals while the Giants kicked 2. I would look for New York to be more aggressive early in this game, and I think they need to generate some big plays in first down situations. With Cruz and Nicks, the opportunities are there.

The Line: San Francisco by 2

My Pick: The first matchup was pretty even, with the Giants having opportunities but coming up 10 yards short. San Francisco relied on a surprise onside kick in the first half to generate a field goal, and like they have all year, won the turnover battle. I expect another great game, but I like the Giants and how Eli Manning is playing right now, and I think this time the Giants win. New York +2.

[photo via Getty]

 

 

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