Originally posted on Football Nation  |  Last updated 1/10/12
New Orleans takes their nine game winning streak on the road to Candlestick Park this weekend to face the San Francisco 49ers in the Divisional round of NFC Playoffs.

The 49ers defensive is aggressive and stingy and they play fast.  They’re ranked 4th overall and 1st against the run.  The Saints have the best offense in the NFL and they’re ranked 1st in passing.  It’s a dangerous unit that’s loaded with play makers.

Offensively, the 49ers will look to establish a running game early.   Frank Gore is as productive as any top back in the league.  He amassed over 1,200 yards on the ground during regular season play, and he’s averaging 4.5 yards per clip.

For San Francisco, Frank Gore is the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.  The 49ers must win the battle of possession time and keep Drew Brees off the field.  If San Francisco can’t run the ball, and the Saints dare Alex Smith to beat them, the 49ers will be in trouble.   Big trouble!

Sean Payton was an offensive coordinator before he was a head coach; he knows the deal.  Drew Brees and the Saints offense know all about the 49ers defense, and they’ll be prepared.  You won’t see them banging their heads against that brick wall.

Pierre Thomas and Darren Sproles can do damage, but success will come with patience.  Look for Drew Brees to utilize a short and medium passing attack to neutralize that aggressive 49ers defense, and ultimately, set up the run.

The 49ers aren’t strong in the secondary so the front seven must get pressure on Brees, knock him down, and force him to make mistakes. 

All Points to Victory:
 
 In order for San Francisco to win, they must;
  1. Run the ball effectively
  2. Keep Drew Brees off the field
  3. Hold on to the ball and win the time of possession battle
  4. Get pressure on Brees and force the Saints to beat them on the ground
 
In order for the Saints to win, they must;
  1. Keep the 49ers defense off balance
  2. Be effective with the short and medium passing attack
  3. Shut down Frank Gore and stop the run
 
This game will be close.  The winner will be the team that turns the ball over least.
  SAINTS 24
49ers 23           
 
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