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Giants vs. 49ers

NFC Championship

Pick With Analysis

1/22/12

The surprising New York Giants head West to take on the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC Championship game on Sunday, January 22nd at 630 pm est. The game opened at pk -120 at 5 Dimes and -1 at betonline. Early action was all San Fran pushing the line to -2.5 at most sportsbooks, even -3 in spots. The total on the game opened 44 and has been bet down to 42.5.

Last week we used the 49ers as our only Key Release of the weekend and we're coming right back with them again this week. We'll tell you why below, but first we'll talk a little bit about both teams.

You can't discount what the Giants have done. All the credit to Tom Coughlin for proving once again he's a damn good football coach. Even earlier in the year when things weren't always going the Giants way, they were competitive. They had two bad losses to the Skins, and a loss by a wide margin to the Saints. Their other 4 losses were all close games.

The Giants had their backs against the wall heading into Dallas in a must win game in mid December. They rallied from behind and needed a little help at the end of that game, but they came out on top and have won every game they needed to win since (The Skins game wasn't a must win). They won the last 4 in impressive fashion, holding the Jets, Cowboys, Falcons and Packers to 14, 14, 2 and 20 points. Everything that was missing for much of the year, the pass rush, the running game, the defense, seemed to return at just the right time.

Eli Manning also put the team on his back. Without Manning, the Giants aren't here. He made all the throws he needed to make. He orchestrated countless drives within the last 2 minutes of both halves, often times with the game on the line. Earlier in the year Eli was asked if he was a top 5 QB, and he said "yeah, I think I am". We'll, the rest of the football world now agrees. In fact, Eli is actually on the verge of being labeled "great". If he  beats the 49ers and wins another Super Bowl, he puts himself right up there with some "great" company.

Unfortunately for Eli, we don't think that's going to happen. Yes, the Giants are "hot". But the Saints we're also being called the most dangerous team in football entering the playoffs. They too were hot. But the Saints will be watching on TV with the ret of us this year. You see, while the Saints were hot, and while the Giants are now "hot", the 49ers have been hot since opening day. Consistent would be a better word. Consistently very good.

The 49ers have all of the characteristics of a Super Bowl team. We've been doing this a long time. Go back in history and dig up some stats of Super Bowl teams. You'll find the 49ers fit the bill, while the Giants, do not. Doesn't mean a team with the numbers of the Giants doesn't get through once in a while. But we're playing the percentages here.

We wrote an article back on December 8th detailing the yards per point numbers of all the playoff contenders. You can read the full article here. We'll sum up that article here. We listed 17 playoff contenders and their yards per point and turnover margin numbers. Again, this was December 8th. Guess who the top 4 teams were? The first number is offensive yards per point. The 2nd number is defensive ypp. The number in blue is the ypp differential. The green is turnovers and the purple is the record against the spread. This was after all teams had played 11 or 12 games.

49ers 13.1 and 22.6 +9.5 +18 10-1 ATS

Packers 11.6 and 18.2 +6.6 +16 8-4 ATS

Patriots 12.4 and 20 +7.6 +8 7-5 ATS

Ravens +14 and +18 +4 +4 7-4 ATS

3 of the top 4 teams, of the 17 we listed, are playing in the Championship games this weekend. Only the Packers are on the outside looking in. Was it the tragedy that struck the team last week? We're they rusty? We're they full of themselves and starting to believe the hype. Maybe all of the above.

Of the 17 teams we listed, the Giants were #16. Here are their numbers as of that article:

Giants 15.8 and 14.8 -1 +4 5-7 ATS

Again, the Giants are hot. This is sports, anything can happen. The Giants could win this week and then go on to win the Super Bowl. But we're playing the percentages, which suggest that is unlikely to happen.

In fact we can break down the ypp numbers by looking at just the last 6 games, must win games for the Giants, not so much for the 49ers, and the 49ers numbers are still better. SF 12.8 and 19.2 for a +6.4. Giants 14.7 and 18.7 for a +4. Then ad home field.

Or, we can look at home and away numbers. Giants on the road all season 14.3 and 15.1 for a +0.8. San Fran at home 11.7 and 24.3 for a +12.6. Oh, and turnover margin on the year, Giants +10. 49ers a mind boggling +32.

Don't expect to see Eli Manning sitting back there for what seemed like an eternity while receivers got open against the Packers, this week. This week will be different. Just ask Drew Brees. Manning won't have that time and with what time he does have, he'll be lucky to find open receivers.

Much has been made about the return of the Giants running game. But really, it's still been nothing to write home about. Even during this "hot streak" they have barely topped the 100 yard rushing mark, with the exception of 172 yards against the Falcons. In fact, that 172 was a season high. Their highest total all year other than that was 122 yards against the Bills. The 49ers on the other hand, topped 140, 150 rushing yards per game with regularity, even topping 200 twice.

Defense against the run is the same story. The 49ers were #1 against the run in the NFL. They allowed just 3 100+ yard games and that was 108, 126 and 111. The Giants allowed many 100+ yard games. How about 177, 156, 145, 155, 145, 136, 205, 139, 147. There were more. Those were just the highest totals.

Yes, the Giants gave the 49ers a battle when they played back in November. The 49ers came away with a 27-20 win in a good, close game. But here's all you need to know about that one. The 49ers beat the Giants WITHOUT Frank Gore, the NFL's 6th leading rusher. Gore had knee and ankle injuries. He carried the ball just 6 times in the first half and did not play in the 2nd half. Oh, and what a surprise, it was a defensive play that won the game for the 49ers, with a Manning pass being batted down on a 4th and 2.

If you go back over the history of the NFL and pull all out the games between teams with very similar stats to those of the Giants and 49ers, with the teams with the numbers like those of the 49ers being at home, those 49er-like teams will have won an extremely high percentage of those games and covered them as well.

We make a play on a game like this, because doing so, we feel as though over the long haul, we'll likely win around 54 to 58 out of 100. It's really that simple. This one game may win or lose, but over the long haul, we'll win more of these games than we'll lose. So, we play.

Every game is of course unique. The Giants have two very big edges that can't be overlooked here. Specifically, a head coach and a QB who have won a Super Bowl. Combine that with the fact that they are going up against a rookie head coach and a QB that hasn't won anything yet, and it's big. That's the x factor in this game. Who knows, Alex Smith could wilt. Coughlin, in his 4th Title game, two in the AFC with the Jags, one with Giants, 1-2 overall, could outcoach the rookie Harbaugh.

We're simply playing the percentages. We're going with the better team, the team that has been more consistent from start to finish, the team with the best defense in the NFL, according to the stats we like to reply on. There are several ways you can play this game. You can lay -2.5, you can play the money line, you can lay -1 with some juice. We think all our acceptable. Right now 5 Dimes has -1 -130, which is how we'll play it. 49ers -1 -130.

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