W2W4: Giants at Niners

October, 12, 2012
10/12/12
6:00
AM ET


The NFC championship rematch is upon us.

Are you ready for another slug-it-out Candlestick cage match?

Here are five things to watch for on Sunday:

Reunited: And it feels ... not so good. The Giants will be reunited with Mario Manningham and perhaps Brandon Jacobs on Sunday. Both key contributors to the Giants' Super Bowl victory signed with the Niners during free agency.

Manningham is ecstatic to be a Niner and has 19 catches for 186 yards and one touchdown so far. Jacobs has yet to play this season after suffering a knee injury in the preseason. He told USA Today that he felt phenomenal and would be disappointed if he doesn’t play Sunday. He certainly sounded frustrated. But on Thursday, Jacobs had a different tone.

“Right now could I go out and play? Yes,” Jacobs told reporters Thursday, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. “But would it be smart? No. I’m taking the opportunity I have to get healthy.”

Jacobs went through full practices this week. Even if Jacobs doesn’t play, Manningham said he will be fired up to play against his former team.

Contain Vernon: Vernon Davis had a total of six catches against the Giants last season in two games. But three of those receptions were for touchdowns.

He scored twice in the NFC Championship Game, including a 73-yard touchdown. The Giants have had good success against tight ends with Carolina’s Greg Olsen really the only one having success against them this season.

But Davis is an elite tight end with elite speed. Perry Fewell says he likes the speedy Jacquian Williams’ ability to match up with Davis.

Protect Eli: Eli Manning was sacked six times and officially hit 12 times in that NFC title game. It was the toughest performance of his career.

The Giants must make sure Manning isn’t touched nearly as many times this time around. Manning and his passing weapons will need time to work against San Francisco’s elite defense. The offensive line has only allowed Manning to be sacked four times this season and just once since the season opener against Dallas. It must continue that type of protection on Sunday.

Wake the rush: Jason Pierre-Paul, Justin Tuck and Osi Umenyiora have a combined one sack in their past two games.

This would be a good time to get the pass rush humming again. Alex Smith doesn’t make many mistakes. He only has one interception this season and six total over the past two seasons. The Giants will need to get pressure on Smith and find a way to combat all the schemes offenses are using to slow down the pass rushers such as quick passes, double teams and tight ends and running backs chipping.

San Francisco treat: The last time the Giants were in the Bay, they left NFC champs and were heading to the Super Bowl.

They’ll need to match the Niners in physicality, execute, minimize the mistakes and likely play their best game of the season. The Giants tend to play well in these types of games. They like playing in hostile environments and mostly rise to the challenge of playing the better teams in the league.

The Super Bowl isn’t on the line this time but a win here could certainly push the Giants onto a winning streak longer than two wins. They will need that considering this game starts an 11-game stretch that features either division foes or teams that made the playoffs last year. Either way, they’ll get a sense of where they stand in the NFC after this game.

Tell us what you think are the Giants' keys to winning this Sunday below.
Ohm Youngmisuk has covered the Giants, Jets and the NFL since 2006. Prior to that, he covered the Nets, Knicks and the NBA for nearly a decade. He joined ESPNNewYork.com after working at the New York Daily News for almost 12 years and is a graduate of Michigan State University.
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