The NFL's game of the week will pit the 4-1 San Francisco 49ers against the 3-2 New York Giants in a marquee conference matchup and rematch of last season's NFC Championship Game. With respect to these two elite teams, not much has changed in terms of what they each do well since then.
The 49ers have the No. 2 defense in the league, while the Giants continue to be prolific on offense, ranking second. Much like the game less than a calendar year ago, special teams and the field position battle will be a major factor in deciding who wins.
The game will set up well for the 49ers, who are fifth in the NFL in points per game (29.8), and they'll have the edge by controlling the clock and winning the possession battle as they've done all season long.
If there's one area of concern for San Francisco, it's special teams, often the great equalizer when teams are well-matched. That's the case against the Giants, and the 49ers need to take caution, because it's been an area that can be considered a weakness to this point.In five punt returns on the year, they have given up an average of 23.6 yards per return and allowed one touchdown. Those kind of plays put a lot of pressure on the defense, despite their talent level.
That Niners' defense has made its living on the three-and-out, and there figure to be more of them on Sunday. Taking care of the football and not trying to do too much in the return game will be a major factor toward success. All eyes will be on 49ers return man and wide receiver, Kyle Williams, whose muffed returns cost the team a victory and Super Bowl berth in the last matchup. He will have shot at redemption, and the 49ers will have a good chance at reasserting themselves as the team to beat by doing the little things well in the kicking and return games.