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John J. Raspanti
The last time the Giants (3-2) and 49ers (4-1) met, with a trip to the Super Bowl on the line, a pair of crucial turnovers proved to be the difference. That day San Francisco's offense struggled against the Giants tightfisted defense.
A repeat performance seems unlikely with the 49er offense putting up some of it's best numbers and the Giants defense struggling. Quarterback Alex Smith (sprained finger last weekend) leads the league with a passing rating of 108.7. Smith has thrown eight touchdown passes and been intercepted once. Running back Frank Gore is having another beastly season. The 29-year-old is averaging over five yards a carry. Wide receiver Michael Crabtree leads the team with 27 receptions. The 49ers are tied for third in the NFL in scoring with an average of 29.8 points per game.
San Francisco has outscored it's last two opponents by a 79-3 margin.
"The talent level has been upgraded," said coach Jim Harbough this week.
The Giants have been just as impressive offensively averaging 30.4 points per game. In last weeks thrashing of the Cleveland Browns 41-27, teammates Ahmad Bradshaw and Victor Cruz rushed for over 200 yards and scored three touchdowns.
Quarterback Eli Manning has completed 65 percent of his passes and thrown 10 touchdowns. Running back Ahmad Bradshaw exploded for 200 yards against the Browns. Andre Brown is averaging over five yards a carry (as is Bradshaw). Manning's favorite target is speedy Victor Cruz and his 37 receptions. Cruz burned the 49er defense last year with 10 catches for 142 yards.
The Giant defense is giving up a total of 22 points a game this season.
"We've definitely got to continue to get better," said middle linebacker Chase Blackburn.
The 49ers are second in the league defensively, trailing only the Seattle Seahawks. Their defense is allowing only 13.6 points per game. Linebackers NaVorro Bowman and Patrick Willis lead the team in tackles with 49, and 42 respectably. Defensive end Aldon Smith has recorded four and a half sacks.
San Francisco has had their eye on this game for months.
"Of course after what happened last year I definitely want to get back at these guys," said Kyle Williams who muffed two punts in last years championship game. "We look at it as if they have something that we should have had."
The Giants need their defense to play much better to beat the 49ers again.
Bettorsworld Bottom Line - The Giants game last season defined the 49ers season. Oh so close. The offseason moves the 49ers made this year were made to win this very game. This 49ers team dominated defensively last year but came up short offensively. It looks as though the moves they made have already paid dividends as the 49ers offense is 6th best in the NFL when using yards per point as a measuring stick, to go along with that stellar defense.
The Giants numbers aren't too shabby, but the Niners are better. We simply don't see them losing here. If you're looking for a team to play in a teaser this week, use the 49ers and bring them down to pk. As far as covering the -6 or -6.5, you simply cannot bet the Giants here just because you think they'll lose, but "hang" within the number. If you're betting the Giants, it had better be because you think they'll win this one straight up, making the points a bonus.
We're never crazy about laying more than a field goal in the NFL. Especially against an offense like the Giants and a QB like Eli Manning. But it's the only way to go here. We feel the 49ers will be the last NFC team standing this year, and quite possibly, the last NFL team standing. That said, expect to see one of the best 49ers performances of the year in this spot as they beat up on the team that kept them from the Super Bowl last season. To the 49ers, this is a measuring stick and we expect them to deliver with flying colors here by beating the Giants on both sides of the ball from start to finish. 49ers -6.5
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