NFC Championship Game: Giants @ 49ers Pick 1/22/12

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The San Francisco 49ers and the New York Giants weren’t on the minds of a lot of NFL betting fans as contenders for the Super Bowl, but one of the two are going to be in the biggest game of the year for sure. These two meet for the second time this year, and we are set to make our NFC Championship free picks for the biggest duel of the season for both teams.

Year To Date Record: 61-65 ATS
Upset Record: 19-35, -$765

NFC Championship Matchup: New York Giants @ San Francisco 49ers
Date: Sunday, January 22nd, 6:30 ET
Location: Candlestick Park, San Francisco, CA
NFC Championship Lines: San Francisco -3
Over/Under 45
NFC Championship TV Schedule: FOX

Giants Notes: Oh, the comparisons… It has been awfully trendy to just assume that these Giants are going to be able to pull out the Super Bowl just as they did in 2008 when they beat the “perfect” New England Patriots in one of the most memorable Super Bowls that we have seen in recent years. We do have to admit that the team is playing with the swagger that it had at that point, and that was demonstrated in the huge 37-20 win at Lambeau Field against the Green Bay Packers over the weekend. New York dominated on both sides of the ball, and it did everything that it could to win the game, including tossing a Hail Mary TD pass at the strike of halftime that truly changed the course of the game, and arguably the entire season. QB Eli Manning has proven that he is worthy of being called an elite quarterback, and he did a great job on Sunday to get his team to this point. Sure, he throws too many picks and doesn’t always look the best in the pocket, but Manning just wins games when he has to, and he is right on the verge of his second Super Bowl appearance in his career. He has a great set of receivers to throw to as well with Mario Manningham, Victor Cruz, and Hakeem Nicks, but the key to the offense is going to be getting the ground game going against one of the most stout rush defenses in the league. Remember that the Giants rank dead last in the league in rushing in spite of the fact that both RBs Brandon Jacobs and Ahmad Bradshaw are historically fantastic backs. Defensively, the pass rush has to ramp it up again, as men like DE Jason Pierre-Paul have to figure out how to get into the San Francisco backfield all game long to avoid this becoming a shootout.

49ers Notes: They’re not always pretty in how they do it, but the 49ers just keep finding ways to win games. On Saturday afternoon, they really had their backs against the wall against arguably the best offense in NFL history. Sure, the New Orleans Saints had nearly 500 yards of offense against this team, but San Francisco stood tall and forced five turnovers as well. Those turnovers gave the Niners a bit of a cushion that was held for most of the game, but when the going got tough, QB Alex Smith, much to the surprise of many, was able to get the job done, not just once, but twice. He ran in the go-ahead TD with just over two minutes left to give the 49ers a five-point lead that probably shouldn’t have been coughed up, but even though QB Drew Brees came right back down the field and scored to stretch the lead back out to a field goal, Smith wouldn’t be denied. He came up with two huge pass plays, the latter of which went to TE Vernon Davis in the middle of the end zone for the game-winning score. What he needed was a field goal to tie, but Smith got the full seven points to win the game instead of sending it to overtime or falling short. Perhaps in other years, this situation would have been different for this, a team that has historically struggled. However, this version of the 49ers believes that it is entitled to be playing in this game and is entitled to be playing at home. San Francisco has a mean streak about it that we like. Soft teams don’t win the Super Bowl, and though this clearly isn’t the most talented team in the league, it is definitely the toughest team that the conference has had all season long.

The Final Word: The 49ers won when these two teams met earlier this year in this venue. It was a fantastic game that was swayed on the back of two Manning INTs. Though he was able to survive against the Green Bay defense on Sunday, we just don’t know if Manning can get the job done again. If he starts turning the ball over, the 49ers are bound to capitalize, just as they did against the Saints. It seems very odd to say, but we tend to think that Head Coach Jim Harbaugh, in his first year on the job in the Bay Area, is going to have his team in the big game for all of the marbles in two weeks.

Divisional NFL Pick: San Francisco -3

NFL Football Prediction: San Francisco 30 – New York 23

Lou Palumbo is the founder and part owner of the Sports Handicapping Community. He's been writing and posting free picks and sports handicapping strategies on the Cappersinfo forums and website for 15 years now. He enjoys handicapping just as much as he did from the very first day he built the original Cappersinfo website.

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