The Giants showed that their strong finish this year was not a fluke and that a fully healthy New York team is a legitimate Super Bowl threat by totally manhandling the previously 15-1 Packers 37-20 last week. Granted the Giants did not get as much out of the running game as expected but Eli Manning passed for 330 yards and the defense was terrific.
The 49ers were aided by five Saints’ turnovers in a thrilling 36-32 victory, but take nothing away from that win as Alex Smith drove the Niners right down the field after New Orleans had seemingly won the game with 1:37 remaining. In fact, the teams scored two touchdowns apiece in the final four minutes of the game.
ODDS: OPEN: SF 49ers -1.5 | CURRENT: SF 49ers -2.5 | O/U: 42.5
1. Why New York will cover the spread: The Giants will cover the spread and win outright if Eli Manning can match the performance he had vs. Green Bay in this game. Yes, the 49ers led the NFC in scoring defense and in total defense during the regular season, but their strength is stopping the run and Drew Brees exposed their secondary last week, passing for 462 yards.
Granted he threw the ball 62 times, but Manning also figures to air the ball out here as the inconsistent Giants’ running game does not figure to do much of anything vs. this run defense, and we expect Eli to be successful. Another key to a New York cover is containing the San Francisco running game, which produced 143 yards vs. the Saints.
2. Why San Francisco will cover the spread: San Francisco will cover the spread if Alex Smith can do what he did last week vs. a mediocre defense when he throws into a Giants’ defense that has dominated both of its playoff opponents. While Smith deserves a world of credit for orchestrating the game-winning drive last week, if he is put in that position again, the result may be different vs. a much better defense that is peaking at the perfect time.
Another key for the Niners is establishing the run, as they probably do not want to get involved in another shootout.
3. Total Talk: We think that the 49ers will run the ball well this week, with even Alex Smith getting involved in the running game. Aaron Rodgers was the Packers leading rusher last week vs. the Giants with many of those yards gained on scrambles, and Smith should be able to do the same in addition to some called runs.
However, the Giants have more quick-strike ability, and with Manning expected to have another big game, the Niners know that they need to score points again this week. The question is can they, at least enough to win? We are looking for this game to sneak ‘over’ the total as the Giants win another thriller.
4. Betting Trends for the game: Teams that win straight up as home underdogs in the playoffs (49ers) are 6-22-1 ATS the following game since 1985. The Giants are 7-0 ATS in their last 7 playoff road games.
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