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NFC Championship Game: Your Thoughts (and Mine)?

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Posted: Friday, January 20, 2012 5:50 pm | Updated: 6:32 pm, Fri Jan 20, 2012.

Well, the big game is inching closer and closer. Giants. Niners. Candlestick.

Is the suspense killing people yet?

I wanted to get some discussion going the day before on people's thoughts/predictions about the game.

First, my own all-too-brief and scattered thoughts:

Storyline to Watch: It's got to be the quarterback battle, without question. Super Bowl ring or no Super Bowl ring, Eli Manning has been scrutinized and dissected to no end ... and you know what? He's pretty darn good, as this season is showing. 

And California observers for the past half-decade certainly know the grief that Alex Smith has been through. I love the storyline of much-maligned quarterbacks looking to prove their worth once again in the biggest way possible.

Match-Ups: The Giants' pass rush is freakish. Pierre-Paul, Umenyiora ... seriously, those guys are monsters and the rotation runs deep. How will the Niners' offensive line handle them?

And better yet, how will Jim Harbaugh try to counter that pressure? Will there be a healthy dose of Frank Gore to start with, or does he still let Smith air it out?

The other thing I'm looking for is: Which Niner receivers will step up? Will Michael Crabtree's cement arms melt away? How about Kyle Williams and his speed?

I'm don't think they can rely on just the Vernon Davis show alone, especially when New York's wideout group is so explosive. (Side note: Victor Cruz has single-handedly inspired me to take up salsa dancing as a New Year's resolution.)

Outcome: I really have gone back and forth on this all week. In the end, I still take the Niners in a close, low-scoring affair -- say, 23-20. That defense is terrific, and I see it making one more important stand or two, forcing one more key turnover.

Harbaugh has this team prepared, and his staff have made all the right calls so far. I see that continuing in a great game.

Now, I want to hear from the readers:

  • What storylines or match-ups are you interested in the most?
  • What will be the game come down to?
  • Who will prevail in the end, by what score, and why?
  • Do you have any good bets going on the outcome?

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