The San Francisco 49ers are coming of a thrilling victory over the New Orleans Saints. The final four minutes of that game featured four lead changes and a year’s worth of excitement. It may go down as one of the greatest playoff games in NFL history – instant classic for sure.
The New York Giants are coming of a dominant victory against the NFL’s best Regular Season team, the Green Bay Packers. The game was sloppy having seen a abnormally high amount of drops by Packers’ Wide Receivers, but the Giants defense really stepped up to the plate.
The results of these games lead to a renewal of one of the great NFL postseason rivalries. The 49ers and Giants have met seven times in the postseason, with the 49ers leading the series 4-3 (4-1 at home).
The first two times (1981, 1984) the 49ers and Giants met in the playoffs – the 49ers won rather comfortably on their way to Super Bowl victories. Then, 1985 and 1986 came which saw the Giants simply dominated the 49ers, as they went on to win the 1986 Super Bowl.
The next match-up was one of the most notable games in NFL postseason history. In 1990, the 49ers were coming off back-to-back Super Bowl victories when they faced the Giants. The 49ers were leading in the 4th quarter when Leonard Marshall ended Joe Montana’s career as 49er. Despite this, the 49ers still led the game with less than 3 minutes remaining and a chance to seal the win with one more first down. Roger Craig fumbled, which set-up a Giants’ last second field goal on their way to a Super Bowl victory.
In 1994, the 49ers avenged the 1990 loss by destroying the Giants 44-3 en route to another Super Bowl victory.
The most recent match-up, during the 2002 season, saw a crazy ending. The Giants were up 38-14 in the third quarter, when Jeff Garcia led the 49ers to 25 unanswered points. The Giants were able to get into field goal range, but a botched snap on the kick and an attempted saving pass cost the Giants the game. There was also a controversial no-call on pass interference because of an ineligible man down-field for the Giants.
Back to this season, the 49ers and Giants are both entering Sunday on top of their game. It’s been ten lonely years for the 49ers who haven’t made the playoffs since 2002, while the Giants have seen some success in recent years, notably winning the 2007 Super Bowl against the then undefeated New England Patriots.
This game will be a hard fought, hard hitting game that will surely be entertaining to watch. But who will win?
I’m going with the 49ers for several reasons:
- The 49ers own the league’s best turnover differential (+28), which was key in their win over the Saints (forcing 5 turnovers).
- The 49ers’ NFL best rushing defense, which held the Saints (6th best rushing offense) to only 37 yards, will be playing the NFL’s worst ranked rushing offense. Brandon Jacobs is not at his best when forced to run hard without lanes, and the Niners will not leave many lanes open.
- The 49ers’ are a run first team, and as well as the Giants’ front four have been playing over the past four weeks – they still struggle against the run at times. The Packers rushed for over 6 yards per carry (147 total yards) last week. If the Giants’ don’t play better than that, it will be tough to beat the Niners, who have a much better defense than the Packers.
- The 49ers are the home team and the game will have sloppy conditions which favors the more conservative play of the 49ers.
A 49ers win will put them in the Super Bowl for the 6th time in franchise history, and they are currently the only team in NFL history to appear in more than one Super Bowl without ever losing one. But that is for another day…
Be sure to catch the game: Sunday, January 22nd @ 6:30PM EST on FOX.
[Photo Credit: Ezra Shaw/Scott Boehm/Getty Images via ABCNewsRadioOnline.com]