NFL playoffs 2012: New York Giants at San Francisco 49ers
Why the Giants can win: Four of the last six Super Bowls have been won by a team that played a first-round playoff game, and the Giants are the last club in this year’s postseason field with a chance to continue that trend. They played in the opening round of the NFC playoffs on their way to their Super Bowl triumph at the conclusion of the 2007 season. They have gotten on a roll at the right time, winning their final two regular season games to capture the NFC East title and then beating the fifth-seeded Falcons at home and the top-seeded Packers on the road in the playoffs. QB Eli Manning has six TD passes and one interception this postseason, and he’s getting help. The Giants have totaled 267 rushing yards in their two playoff games. They’ve allowed only 22 points, and they had four sacks and forced four turnovers against the Packers.
Why the 49ers can win: This is a rematch of a regular season game won by the 49ers, 27-20, on Nov. 13 in San Francisco. Manning threw two interceptions in that game, both to CB Carlos Rogers, and the 49ers stopped the Giants on fourth down in the final minute only 10 yards from a tying TD. The 49ers have won eight of nine games at home this season, including their playoff victory over the Saints. They led the league in rushing defense during the regular season, and were fourth in total defense and second in scoring defense. But as they showed against the Saints with their 36-point performance, they can rev up the offense every so often too. QB Alex Smith threw for 299 yards and three TDs in that game, and TE Vernon Davis had seven catches for 180 yards and two TDs.