The San Francisco 49ers host the New York Giants as the two improbable Super Bowl contenders battle on Sunday at Candlestick Park in the NFC Championship game.
The 49ers are coming off their dramatic victory over the New Orleans Saints at home, while the the Giants shocked many experts when they blew out the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field.
The two teams met at Candlestick Park on Nov. 13, when San Francisco edged New York, 27-20, as the visiting club couldn't find the end zone deep in the fourth quarter while on the home team's 10-yard line. Manning threw for 311 yards, but also two interceptions.
The Bay Area forecast calls for rain, which should serve San Francisco well. Jim Harbaugh's squad finished with a 7-1 record at home this season, and the lone loss was to the Dallas Cowboys in overtime in Week Two.
LINE: The 49ers are favored by three points.
OVER/UNDER: 42 points.
PREDICTION: The NFC road to the Super Bowl promises to be an exciting one as both clubs are playing above their heads, and appear evenly match. San Francisco will likely keep it simple by pounding the ball with Frank Gore, and then throwing to Vernon Davis on third down. Both are effective strategies, but the Giants' defense will likely contain that game plan by the second half, which should force Smith to look for wide receiver Michael Crabtree more often. The New York offense has multiple weapons, and Eli Manning is likely to spread the passing game to include receivers other than Victor Cruz and Hakeem Nicks. Should the offensive line give Manning time to throw, the Giants will be throwing the ball so often that it should surprise the 49ers defense with a rushing play from time to time. New York would love to neutralize star offensive linebacker Patrick Willis by just throwing corner routes. But expect San Francisco's secondary, led by Pro Bowl defensive backs Carlos Rogers and Dashon Goldson, to step up. In the end, Manning should ultimately be able to execute solid drives by hitting multiple receivers in what will likely be a close game.
PREDICTED SCORE: New York over San Francisco, 24-21.