Manning Up, a Gorey Disappointment

Posted: January 21, 2012 by Kodi in NFL

Rather than the Saints Packers we have the Giants vs. 49ers for the NFC Championship

Eli Manning is looking to one up his big brother Peyton

While Alex Smith is happy that he no longer seems like a bust

If you asked many NFL fans who they thought would be in the NFC Championship I find it impossible to believe anyone besides a Niners and Giants fan would have believed it would be New York traveling to San Francisco. It wouldn’t have been surprising for them to have said the Saints and Packers but both of those teams were upset in very different ways. The Saints were surprisingly in a shootout and it was a final second TD pass by Alex Smith, not Drew Brees to give his team a chance to play for the NFC Championship. The Green Bay Packers on the other hand were completely surprised and blown out at home by a hot New York team. The Packers were the first team in NFL history to lose their first playoff game after winning at least 15 games.

The Giants and 49ers have met 7 previous times an New York trails San Francisco 3 games to 4 with the Niners winning the last two meetings. The New York Giants however are 4 and 0 in NFC Championship games and have gone on to win 3 of the 4 Super Bowls they’ve appeared in. San Fancisco has been in 12 Conference Championships but has only won 5 of those games but they have won all 5 Super Bowls they’ve made it to. Regardless of who makes it there the two teams are 8 for 9 in Super Bowl appearances and the AFC should be aware. These are two extremely historic franchises and everyone is hoping for a game half as entertaining as the Niners last game and better than the blowout at Lambeau.

Eli Manning hit Hakeem Nicks twice in the first half for TD passes, the first was a 66 yarder in the 1st quarter and the other was a 37 yard hail mary in the final seconds of the first half. With their 2nd connection the Giants had over 300 total yards of offense in the opening half and a 20-10 lead. The Giants forced 4 turnovers against a team that had just 14 during the entire regular season. They constantly rushed Aaron Rodgers who had one of his worst postseason performances.  Eli finished the game 21-33 for 330 yards and 1 interception while Nicks had 7 catches for 165 yards and 2 touchdowns. Nicks has 13 catches for 280 yards and 4 touchdowns in the Giants two playoff victories thus far this postseason.

Eli tried to warn everyone explaining that he already thought he was an elite QB before he had his career high season. He threw for nearly 5000 yards and had 8 300+ yard games and 6 come from behind victories and 5 game winning drives. Manning could easily surpass his big brother if he is able to defeat the Niners and get to another Super Bowl. Manning had nothing but time against a pathetic Packers pass rush but San Francisco has a lot more talent defensively than what Green Bay put on the field last Sunday.

Obviously if you are talking about pass rush it is the New York Giants you should be talking about who have now racked up 17 sacks during their 4 game winning streak. Osi Umenyiora who didn’t play in the first Packers Giants matchup had 2 sacks and a key forced fumble, the first fumble lost for Rodgers all season. Michael Boley added another 2 sacks and the Giants defense also forced another 3 fumbles, should have been 4 if that Jennings play had been called, and picked off a worthless pass in garbage time against the Pack. Alex Smith may have displayed some ability in those closing final minutes in that Divisional game against New Orleans.

Smith threw the ball a season high 42 times and completed 24 of those passes for 299 yards, 3 touchdowns and no interceptions. He also added a go ahead 28 yard rushing touchdown but ultimately won the game with a great pass over the middle to Vernon Davis with just seconds left on the clock, it may be the new Dallas Clark moment if they can continue this Cinderella season. Alex Smith looked like he was finally living up to expectations in the Niners first playoff win since 2002. He is also coming off of a career high season but is in no way considered elite and was just plays away from being benched again. Jim Harbaugh and Offensive Coordinator Greg Roman have been able to find an offense that Smith feels comfortable running and doesn’t rely on the QB making plays.

Rather they have relied heavily on the rushing game, running the ball more than all but 2 teams while they threw less passes than every team in the NFL except the Tebow led Broncos. Frannk Gore had his healthiest season since 2006 and had his most productive year since rushing 282 times for 1211 yards and 8 touchdowns. Last week the Niners were in a offensive shootout and San Francisco only ran the ball with Gore 13 times but he did break off a 42 yarder and totaled 89 rushing yards. New Yorks rush defense is ranked 19th in the NFL and did a solid job last week holding Green Bays RB’s to 81 yards but couldn’t stop a scrambling Rodgers who led all rushers with 66 yards on 7 attempts.

Some think that the home field advantage isn’t as important as they think because Manning is 6-3 in the playoffs and 4-1 on the road. Eli led the Giants to victories on three straight road games on the way to winning SB XLII at a neutral location. This game is obviously up for grabs and realistically all four of the teams left has the opportunity to get to SB XLVI but I am taking the proven QB’s. It could be a Harbaugh Bowl with the Niners versus the Ravens but Alex Smith and Joe Flacco don’t give me the same confidence that Eli Manning and Tom Brady give men. I am taking the Giants on the road 27-24 and it is going to be a rematch of the 2007 Super Bowl with the Pats looking for revenge.

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