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Game of the Week: Giants at 49ers
Candlestick Park would hardly be described as aesthetically pleasing, and the performance on the field last January between the San Francisco 49ers and New York Giants in the NFC Championship reflected as such, as the imposing will of dominant defenses correlated to five fumbles (two lost) in the championship game, two of which derived from San Fran return man Kyle Williams. The second mistake came in overtime and equated to pristine field position for New York, ending with a 31-yard field goal from Lawrence Tynes to vault the Giants into the Big Game.
Both squads have started strong in the 2012 season, with the G-Men 3-2 and the Niners 4-1. The Giants return to the scene of last winter's crime this weekend with the 49ers setting their sights on revenge, making the rematch our WhatIfSports.com Game of the Week.
The current atmosphere of the NFL is one that promotes offensive explosion; alas, that sentiment has not found its way to the City by the Bay. San Francisco made their bones on the defensive side of the ball in 2011, a conviction that has carried over to the current campaign, as the Niners are suffocating opponents to a league-low 13.6 points per contest. Though the rush resistance gets most of the pub, the 49ers secondary should not be dismissed, illustrated in their concession of just 181.2 passing yards per game, second-best in the NFL.
Unfortunately, it's the Niners' own passing attack that may be under question, as an injury to the throwing hand of quarterback Alex Smith may sideline the San Fran signal caller. A shame, too, as the former No. 1 overall pick has undergone a career revival under the tutelage of head coach Jim Harbaugh, transforming Smith from a first-round bust into one of the more effective field generals in football. If Smith is unable to go under center, look for second-year man Colin Kaepernick to take the reins.
The Giants cannot comprehend such ambiguity at the quarterback spot, as Eli Manning has been a source of stability. Though still living in the shadow of his older brother, Manning has tossed for over 4,000 yards and 27 touchdowns in each of the past three seasons. More importantly, he's been at the helm for two Super Bowl conquests in the last five years. The Ole Miss product is prone to post a pedestrian effort or two throughout the year, but it's hard to argue against Eli as a member in the upper ranks of quarterbacks in the current NFL scene.
Of course, an offense's best friend is the backing of a sound defense, an issue that historically has not been a problem for the Giants. However, a depleted secondary has made New York susceptible through the air, surrendering 261.4 yards a contest, placing the unit in the bottom third of the league. Luckily for Tom Coughlin's company, the team's front seven remains one of the more formidable crews in the NFC, and their constant pressure on the opposing backfield helps negate the deficiencies in the aerial defense.
So who wins Round 2 of this NFC showdown? According to the award-winning WhatIfSports.com simulation engine, the 49ers come out on top 64.0 percent of the time by an average margin of 25-21. For the rest of this week's predictions, check below:
Please note: The Raiders-Falcons, Packers-Texans, Bills-Cardinals, Chiefs-Buccaneers, Colts-Jets, Rams-Dolphins and Vikings-Redskins games were resimulated on 10/11 to account for injuries and roster updates.
NFL Week 6
|@ Atlanta Falcons||65.3||27||Simulate Game|
|New York Giants||36.0||21||Boxscore|
|@ San Francisco 49ers||64.0||25||Simulate Game|
|Green Bay Packers||38.3||22||Boxscore|
|@ Houston Texans||61.7||26||Simulate Game|
|@ Arizona Cardinals||59.3||24||Simulate Game|
|@ Baltimore Ravens||54.9||23||Simulate Game|
|@ New York Jets||53.7||20||Simulate Game|
|Kansas City Chiefs||46.7||22||Boxscore|
|@ Tampa Bay Buccaneers||53.3||24||Simulate Game|
|@ Philadelphia Eagles||52.9||23||Simulate Game|
|St. Louis Rams||49.4||20||Boxscore|
|@ Miami Dolphins||50.6||21||Simulate Game|
|@ San Diego Chargers||47.7||23||Simulate Game|
|@ Cleveland Browns||36.0||20||Simulate Game|
|@ Washington Redskins||31.1||16||Simulate Game|
|@ Tennessee Titans||27.2||17||Simulate Game|
|New England Patriots||73.2||24||Boxscore|
|@ Seattle Seahawks||26.8||17||Simulate Game|
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