The 49ers are current No. 3 in the ESPN Power Rankings and the Giants are the reigning Super Bowl champs. Both teams are immediate title contenders in the NFC, so a major theme that will play into this game will be dominance. Both teams will be trying to assert themselves over the other in every conceivable aspect on Sunday.
Largely because questions need to be answered: Who is the ruler of the NFC? The team that's won two championships this decade or the team that looks like the next dynasty?
However you choose to look at it, it apparent that this rivalry has been brought back to life in a big way.
One of the more enticing match-ups this weekend will be Manning versus the 49ers elite defense.
Manning was hammered by the 49ers front the last time these two played. He was sacked six times and hit at least double that. After the conference game, Manning relayed a profound respect for the 49ers defense, which is currently ranked No. 2 in the NFL.
With half a dozen Pro Bowlers and a few All-Pro's, the Niners defense is hellacious. They've carried over their dominance displayed in 2011, when the unit faced off against the Giants twice. The 49ers went 1-1 against them that year, and will host them for a third consecutive game in two years.
With that said, Manning knows how good this unit is.
Manning remarked that the 49ers defense is "stout, plays smart" and acknowledged it would be a "hard-fought game" where they "couldn’t afford to make many mistakes." Manning pinpointed the Niners front four and the level they're capable of playing at. Manning knows better than anyone that it's helped make them one of the top defenses in the NFL.
And very simply, they are indeed "tough against the run and get a lot of sacks."
Manning and the Giants offense understands they will have their hands full come Sunday. And even though they have not played for nearly a year, Manning's perception of the 49ers defense has not changed. The two-time Super Bowl champion QB spoke on WFAN radio in New York this week about the upcoming matchup.
He talked a bit about the Niners defense again and what the Giants need to do offensively to combat their efforts.
Hopefully, we can run the ball successfully and pass protect. It is one of those games where you can't afford to make mistakes.
You can't force things. You can't get into situations trying to do too much when they get a good pressure. You got to be smart and take your medicine sometimes.
I think that is what we did great last time we played them. No turnovers. They are talented. They got good players all over the field. It is one of those days when everything has to be done correctly.