NEW YORK GIANTS (1-7) AT SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS (0-9)
SERIES HISTORY: 32nd regular-season meeting. Giants lead series, 16-15. New York has won five out of the last seven meetings dating to 2005. The Giants also have won one postseason meeting, a 20-17 overtime victory in 2011. The Giants are 4-4 vs. the 49ers in the postseason. They also won the last meeting played at San Francisco's old Candlestick Park in 2012, a 26-3 decision.
KEYS TO THE GAME: It's been some rough sledding this year for both the 49ers' offensive line, which has allowed 32 sacks and 80 quarterback hits, and the Giants' defensive line, which has recorded just 13 sacks.
The good news for the Giants is that defensive tackles Damon Harrison and Dalvin Tomlinson have been playing well, so it will be interesting to see whether they get more opportunities in pass-rushing situations.
The Giants also probably would do themselves a big favor if they were to move safety Landon Collins closer to the box this week. Collins has shown he's at his best when playing close to the line of scrimmage. With the banged-up Giants linebackers struggling to cover anyone, having Collins up in the box could help snuff out the 49ers if they attempt to deploy running back Carlos Hyde in space.
Offensively, the Giants need to get back to the formula they executed so flawlessly in their lone win this season (against the Broncos): a balanced offensive attack. The 49ers' run defense is ranked last in the league.
MATCHUPS TO WATCH:
--Giants LT Ereck Flowers vs. 49ers DE Elvis Dumervil. Since entering the NFL in 2006, Dumervil's 99 career sacks rank second among active players. In addition, Dumervil has 31 games with 1.5 or more sacks since entering the league. He'll face off against Flowers, the Giants' inconsistent left tackle who has played better the last few weeks and who has allowed just four sacks and 23 quarterback pressures, per Pro Football Focus.
--49ers TE Garrett Celek vs. Giants OLB Devon Kennard. The Giants have allowed a touchdown pass to a tight end in all eight games. That's hard to do. Then consider this: Kennard, the strongside linebacker who has been the target of many of those throws, has been recorded with one pass defensed all season. Sounds like Celek, pressed into starting duties with George Kittle injured, can expect to be a busy man.
PLAYER SPOTLIGHT: Giants RB Orleans Darkwa. After starting off the season as a rotational back who received a smattering of carries -- 21 over the first five games -- Darkwa has made the most of his opportunities over the last three weeks. Darkwa, who splits his carries with rookie Wayne Gallman, is averaging 15 rushing attempts and 74.3 yards per game over that three-game stretch. He will face the league's worst run defense; the 49ers are allowing 135.7 rushing yards per game.
FAST FACTS: Last week, Giants QB Eli Manning became the seventh player in NFL history with 50,000 passing yards. In the last meeting, he hit 41 of 54 passes (75.9 percent) for 441 yards and three TDs. He has done well in NFC West road games, throwing 18 TD passes and just three INTs in the past nine. ... Rookie TE Evan Engram has 15 receptions for 212 yards and three TDs in his past three games. He leads rookie TEs in receptions (34), yards (412) and TDs (4). ... DE Jason Pierre-Paul had two sacks in his last game at San Francisco. He has 12 tackles, 3.5 sacks and a forced fumble in his past two road games. ... DE Olivier Vernon has six sacks in his past seven road games. ... 49ers RB Carlos Hyde had career-highs in receptions (9) and receiving yards (84) last week. He rushed for 93 yards and a score in the last meeting. He also has 980 scrimmage yards (108.9 per game) and seven TDs in his past nine home games. ... WR Marquise Goodwin has 148 yards (74 per game) in his past two home games. He leads the NFC with 19 yards per reception. ... Rookie LB Reuben Foster had a career-high 14 tackles last week.
PREDICTION: In a duel that could loom large in the "race" for the No. 1 overall pick, the 49ers look capable of finally getting on the board.
OUR PICK: 49ers, 23-21.