NFC Championship Betting: Giants go for another playoff road win at San Francisco

New York Giants at San Francisco 49ers
Sunday, 1/22/12, 6:30 PM EST, TV:  FOX
Opening Point Spread:  San Francisco -3
Current Betting Line:  San Francisco -2.5
Opening Total:  44.5
Current Total:  42
Odds Courtesy of Bookmaker

49ers vs. Giants NFC Championship Game Preview
San Francisco QB Alex Smith threw an NFL-low five interceptions for players who started all 16 games during the regular season.

It may seem like déjà vu for the New York Giants, who are just one game away from making it to the Super Bowl for the second time in four years.  However, the fourth-seeded Giants (11-7) will have to avenge another regular-season loss on Sunday in order to get back there when they visit the second-seeded San Francisco 49ers (14-3) on Sunday in the NFC Championship Game.

New York is fresh off a 37-20 upset of top seed Green Bay last Sunday in the divisional playoffs, and the last time quarterback Eli Manning won at Lambeau Field in the postseason, his team ended up with the Vince Lombardi Trophy.  Manning was instrumental in handing the Packers a second consecutive home loss in the postseason to the Giants, outdueling Green Bay QB Aaron Rodgers with 330 passing yards, three touchdowns and one interception.

Rodgers played like he had a little too much time off, as the last time he stepped on the field was in a 35-21 win over Chicago on Christmas Day.  He turned the ball over twice against New York but did not get much help from his teammates, who also gave the Giants a couple more gifts on fumbles and should have added another on a clear giveaway by wide receiver Greg Jennings in the first quarter.  But New York’s defense took advantage of these opportunities from the defending Super Bowl champions and hopes to pressure San Francisco in similar fashion.

Most critics were curious to see how 49ers QB Alex Smith would react in his first career playoff start, and he delivered with a huge performance en route to a 36-32 win over New Orleans last Saturday.  San Francisco (-2.5, O/U 42) closed as a 3.5-point home underdog, but Smith came through in crunch time, leading his team to two touchdowns in the final 2:11.

A lot of the credit needs to go to likely NFL Coach of the Year Jim Harbaugh, who believed in the former top overall pick and turned around a proud 49ers franchise that went 6-10 just last year.  Harbaugh obviously instilled a winning attitude in his team, building a strong defense that forced Manning into a couple of interceptions in a 27-20 victory against the Giants at home in Week 10.

San Francisco is a remarkable 8-0-1 against the spread at Candlestick Park this year with the only blemish coming in a 27-24 overtime loss to Dallas in Week 2. The 49ers have had trouble covering in meetings with New York though, going 1-5 ATS in the past six despite winning three of those games.  The Giants are 4-0 all-time in the NFC Championship Game and have gone 4-0 SU and ATS in their past four overall.

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