Week 10 preview: 49ers-Giants

All it took was a fourth quarter leap-to-win for critics to jump back on the Eli Manning bandwagon and brand the Giants’ quarterback “among the elite.”

We’ll see how Manning keeps his “elitist” composure against a surprising 49ers team this Sunday at Candlestick Park.

Insinuating that Manning is going to do a complete 180 and buckle under the pressure of a 7-1 49ers squad that continues to play competitive ball every Sunday? You bet.

Predicting that San Francisco’s top-ranked run defense is going to give New York a “run for its money?” Darn straight.

Calling this game a landslide win for the 49ers? Not quite, but it should still be a fun game to watch.

Sure, the Giants have beaten the 49ers in every game they’ve squared off in since 2003. But –as die-hard 49er fans will gladly point out –this is not the same Niners team as years passed.

Coming into Week 10 of the 2011 NFL season, both teams are averaging about 25 points a game. And both quarterbacks have somewhat level completion percentages –Manning with a 62.9% completion percentage, and Alex Smith with 64.1%. But Smith has kept himself down to 2 interceptions for this season against Manning’s 6. And despite Manning’s fourth-quarter heroics last week to beat out the rivaling Patriots, Smith is currently topping the NFL with a 131 passer rating in the last two minutes of play.

New York has better receiving, Manning will have the assistance of wide receiver Victor Cruz, who boasts a team-leading 588 yards on 34 catches with 4 touchdowns. But when it comes to the running game, there are two words: Frank. Gore. Always a force to be reckoned with, Gore has pummeled the competition with over 100 yards in his last five games. And on top of being one of the NFL’s top running backs, his 7196 career yards are dangerously close to breaking the franchises all-time rushing yards record.

It’s shaping up to be a big game in a weekend full of big games. Let’s see who comes out with the “elite” brand after this battle.