I’ve been going extra-nerdy this week, referring to the division-round opener as an exercise in Newtonian physics.
The irresistible force meets the immovable object.
Or, as NBC SportsTalk producer Ricky Diamond put it yesterday while we were prepping for the show, it’s the 49ers hosting the 45ers. Yes, in each of the past three games, the Saints have scored exactly 45 points.
The 49ers, in contrast, have allowed 10 points in their last three home games. Not 10 points per game; 10 total points.
Peter King explained during the Friday NBC SportsTalk that the Saints practiced at Candlestick Park on Friday, and that they were pleasantly surprised by the condition of the field. January weather in the Bay Area has been unusually warm and dry, and the track could be fast.
It’s a far cry from the condition of the playing surface 30 years ago, when a Rolling Stones concert held in October sent the turf into a downward spiral, prompting the powers-that-be to enlist George Toma to try to salvage it.
“It’s still a horsesh-t field,” Giants coach Ray Perkins said after San Fran beat the Giants in the division round. The 49ers would benefit from equine-manure conditions on Saturday. The good conditions favor the Saints’ high-octane offense.
But the Niners could get their boost from the fact that the Saints are favored to win. As Chris Berman pointed out during ESPN’s Saturday edition of Sunday NFL Countdown, the 49ers are the first home underdog since the Panthers against the Cowboys in 1996. (Carolina won.)
Surely, coach Jim Harbaugh will use that slight to get his team worked up into a rabid frenzy. Rosenthal thinks the Saints will still win; I’ve joined the clear minority and picked the 49ers.
Either way, it could be the best game of the weekend. Feel free to post any taunts or lamentations here. We’ll be posting on any relevant developments as the game unfolds.