Bear with me because I have a lot to share about everything going on but have a limited time to do it.
Looking back at last week’s game against Green Bay, I was thoroughly expectant that the Giants would win that one. After the thrashing of Atlanta the week before, the Giants were brimming with confidence. They were playing the best ball of the season going into the playoffs and, starting with the Jets game, we started to see the defensive phase coming together.
Mostly, as we’ve seen, the injuries the defensive side of the ball has had to contend with this year has been extremely difficult to overcome. As the front has improved in health, so goes the defense.
Looking at Green Bay, they were already on the down swing. Though the Giants lost in a tightly contested game to the Packers, let’s face it, losing to Kansas City just 2 weeks later magnified this fact. They benefited this year from having a schedule light on talent and heavy on rebuilding teams. I cannot short them...they were 15-1. It’s hard to win 12 games in the NFL, let alone losing only 1 time in the season. The prolific offense masked the defensive problems they had, which is eerily similar to the Patriots of today, as well. However, the way the Giants have been playing, they are looking like the most balanced and complete team left in the playoffs this year.
Now, turning to the 49ers, there’s no doubt they have momentum and, possibly, the Coach of the Year helping them turn the tide and win ball games no one gave them a shot of winning entering the season.
When looking at the NFC West in August of 2011, the assumption going into the season was that the over hyped Kevin Kolb (traded from the Eagles, the “over hyped” fact shouldn’t be a surprise) would turn the Cardinals into a contender, Seattle would continue their turn around, and San Francisco would need time to rebuild with their rookie coach taking the stage. That would have made the 49ers the 3rd best team in the worst division in football, just in front of the Rams that did nothing in Spagnoulo’s tenure.
Instead, we’re seeing a team that had nothing but moving parts going into the season turn into a formidable contender in just a few short months. As was evident last week, the 49ers are capable of anything at this point. Unfortunately for Giants’ fans (and the Giants themselves, for that matter), this come from behind victory was far from being a long shot. Alex Smith’s 4th quarter Passer Rating is bested by no man in the 2011-2012 season (Eli is just behind him), and shredding the New Orleans defense when it counted was not out of the question by any means. New Orleans’ defense has not been tested this year because the offense masks its problems. (sounds familiar? GB and NE follow the same formula, add in the Lions to a less effective degree)
My contention for this week’s game is this: San Francisco already feels like they won their Superbowl. Here’s my reasoning:
- No one expected them to win their division, let alone secure a bye and home field advantage.
- No one expected them to win against a New Orleans team that was looking like the scariest team in the playoffs going into the divisional week.
- When a player who wins the game for the team runs off the field crying, there’s an obvious climax to the season that has set in. While I don’t think the team is “satisfied” with what they’ve done (Harbaugh shows too much determination and intelligence as a head coach that I cannot believe they’re satisfied), there is something to be said for that emotional high peaking right then.
It is for these reasons that I remain thoroughly confident that the Giants can and will win this game and rematch the 2007 Superbowl against the New England Patriots. Even though both of these teams are highly confident and peaking at the right time, the Giants have been there already. San Francisco hasn’t played football this deep since the 90s. Experience and wisdom at this stage is just as important as enthusiasm. Only one of these teams display both. The Giants.
Giants - 31 - 49ers - 17 - Zebras 10. Giants win 31-27.