My hope, however, is a Patriots and Niners Super Bowl because it would match Tom Brady against his hometown team who passed on him in the draft (for Giovanni Carmazzi!!!), and it would also match Jim Harbaugh, who coached a team to the championship out of no where, against Bill Belichick, who coached his team to a championship out of no where exactly a decade ago. If these two teams win in their respective Championship games, it would match one of the best defenses in the league against one of the best offenses. Speaking of Championship games, this is going to be the 30th anniversary of The Catch, which is really the defining moment of the start of the 49er dynasty. You know who was in the opposite end zone at that game? A young Tom Brady.
On to the picks!
|Could there be even more drama in SF this week?|
San Francisco -2.5 versus New York Giants: I was watching the fourth quarter of the regular season meeting between these two on NFL Network, and I had forgotten just how good of a game that was -- and now Ahmad Bradshaw and Frank Gore are healthy to play in this one! I really think the Niners can run the ball on this defensive front, and hopefully that'll slow down the Giants' fearsome pass rush. My main concern is if Alex Smith starts getting hit early, then he'll start looking at the rush instead of keeping his eyes down field. If he has time, he can definitely exploit this secondary with plays that directly attack the safeties downfield, especially off of play action. I am actually big fans of Kenny Phillips and Antrel Rolle, but Vernon Davis showed last week how much of a matchup nightmare he is, and I have a feeling that Michael Crabtree is going to have a big day.
On the other side, I'm worried about Hakeem Nicks having a field day of his own. Like I said warned, the Niners' safeties showed again last week that this defense's main weakness is the big play through the air, and Nicks is a big threat down the field with huge hands to snatch the ball in traffic. A great pass rush can negate any openings on the back side, but Eli is great at creating just enough space to get his throws off. Carlos Rogers did a good job for the Niners against Victor Cruz in the slot, and that is the matchup to watch all day since Patrick Willis and Navarro Bowman should shut down the running game and make the Giants one dimensional. If Aldon Smith and Justin Smith can get consistent pressure on Manning that forces him into a couple bad throws off his back foot, then I like the Niners' chances at home.