Saturday, January 14, 2012

Saints-49ers First Half Anlaysis

Very even first half, and almost exactly what we expected.  The Saints are moving the ball at will, but they have had three costly turnovers.  The 49ers are letting their defense set up the offense, as they've done all year long.  Saints look poised right now, and they have scored 14 unanswered going into halftime to give themselves momentum.

One interesting note: the 49ers have been able to finish drives.  They have had superb field position all half, and they have turned a few drives into touchdowns, something they had struggled with all season.  There's no doubt that this was something Harbaugh emphasized all week.

The Saints haven't looked like the same team we saw last week against Detroit.  They have not been careful with the football, which is essential against a ball-hawking defense like San Francisco's.  If the Saints can take care of the football in the second half, it is their game.  If they can't, the 49ers will capitalize and steal this game.

A little controversy on that first Saints turnover, as it was clearly a helmet-to-helmet hit.  But the rule states that only helmet-to-helmet hits to defenseless players are illegal.  Since Pierre Thomas had established himself as a runner, it was, by definition, a clean hit.  Could've seen it go either way though.

One thing we have not seen this half is the strong leg of Andy Lee, who was supposed to be an X-factor in this game with his ability to swing field position.  Despite this, the 49ers have still controlled field position, which is a good sign for them.

The Saints have been moving the ball at will, but their one-dimensional offense will be dissected by the 49ers' coaching staff at halftime, and they will be able to scheme against it.  Their lack of ability to establish any sort of run game is going to hurt them if they are trying to close out this game.  We have seen the Saints' inability to close out games a few times this year, especially against the Falcons and Titans.  Because of that, I am sticking to my pick from earlier in the week, 49ers by 3.  It may be a bit higher scoring than 27-24, but I think the 49ers have looked like the stronger team in the first half.

I never thought I'd ever say this, but I think Alex Smith will get his first career playoff one.  Also, Goldson is one hell of a player.  Look for him to make another big play in the second half.

One last thing--the 49ers have been able to pressure Drew Brees, unlike the Lions last week.  Aldon Smith has made his presence known so far this game, and if he can keep it up, it will help this 49ers defense immensely.  If not, Drew Brees will pick apart this secondary at will, and it will be a long second half.  Obviously, I expect them to keep it up.

No comments:

Post a Comment