Saturday, January 21, 2012
NFC championship game and weather factor
The forecast for Sunday's NFC championship game calls for temperatures in the mid-50s and a good chance of rain at
. That could make it tricky to get traction on a wet, muddy field that might alter the strategies of the 49ers and Giants. Candlestick Park
"You try to play the game in your head all week and when you have bad weather, you just picture that field all mudded up," 49ers offensive coordinator Greg Roman said. "You start going through contingencies in your mind. There's no doubt, you have to.
"The receivers probably have an advantage because they know where they're going and the defensive backs have to react. On the same token, though, running backs can't hit a whole or can't make a cut they usually would, so advantage defense. It works both ways."
The general rule is the mushier the field, the longer the spikes. So the 49ers, for one, will have multiple shoe options depending on how the ground feels just before kickoff. One factor that could play in the favor of both quarterbacks is pass rushers are frequently a bit slower in the slop and have to shorten their stride to maintain their balance. Defensive fronts are a strong suit for both the 49ers and Giants.
"(You don't know the field) favors until you actually know the degree of sloppiness," 49ers defensive coordinator Vic Fangio said. "Is it just a little slippery, or is it a quagmire, or is it somewhere in between? There's never an exact science or way of playing that. Players have to know it's a little slippery and play accordingly."
The 49ers are 19-6 in postseason games at
since 1970, the site that has played host to more postseason games than any in the NFC. Candlestick Park
We're No. 1
The starting quarterbacks in this game were drafted No. 1 overall in consecutive years, the Giants' Eli Manning in 2004 (by the Chargers and then traded) followed by the 49ers' Alex Smith.
Sunday will mark the second time in NFL history top-pick quarterbacks squared off against each other in a conference title game, the first coming when the Jets' Vinny Testaverde faced the Broncos' John Elway in the 1998 AFC championship game.
The other two playoff games matching fellow top picks were wild-card games pitting the Vikings' Jeff George against the Cowboys' Troy Aikman in 2000 and the Browns' Testaverde against the Patriots' Drew Bledsoe.
Manning is 6-3 in the postseason, including a 4-1 record on the road. If the Giants win Sunday, Manning will set the record for the most postseason road victories. He's currently tied with Len Dawson, Roger Staubach, Jake Delhomme, Mark Sanchez and Joe Flacco.
What's more, Manning's 100.1 passer rating in road playoff games is the third-best in NFL history (minimum 100 attempts) behind Aaron Rodgers (113) and Ben Roethlisberger (107.3) and ahead of Sanchez (94.3) and Drew Brees (91.2).
NBC's Cris Collinsworth: "The 49ers have given up some catch-and-run kind of plays. Not necessarily over the top, but intermediate routes, and teams have scored off of that. Who's better at those catch-and-run plays than the Giants, with Victor Cruz and Hakeem Nicks and some of the other guys? They've been brilliant in the playoffs with those kind of plays."
The 49ers will take away the Giants ground game and turn their attention to putting maximum pressure on Manning. Alex Smith has proven he can beat you, and the 49ers have the run-pass balance that will force the Giants to bring their safeties up to contain the ground attack. The game will be close, though, and will be decided in the fourth quarter.