WR Victor Cruz vs. CB Carlos Rogers
Following his first of two interceptions in their first meeting, Carlos Rogers mocked Victor Cruz's patented salsa dance as the 49ers went on to win, 27-20. However, there is mutual respect between the two, and Rogers voted for Cruz on his Pro Bowl ballot. The two should see plenty of each other again, especially on third downs in the slot. Key stat: Cruz was targeted 11 times in the Nov. 13 game, leading the team with six catches for 84 yards but failed to find the end zone.Key quote: "It's just a matter of seeing him again and understanding that there were some positive things I did against him in the first game," Cruz said earlier in the week. "I'm probably going to have to stick to those things. Watching film, he's gotten a lot better since then. He's been doing a lot of good things. It's just a thing where as the game goes on see where he's favoring, see which way he's leaning towards and try to calculate and maneuver off of the way his body is shifting, things like that."
Giants DBs/LBs vs. TE Vernon Davis
Vernon Davis proved to be the backbreaker of the New Orleans defense last week in the Divisional Round, hauling in seven catches for 180 yards and two touchdowns, including the dramatic game-winner. Meanwhile, the Giants have faced a slate of premier tight ends in recent weeks, and have limited players like Jason Witten and Tony Gonzalez by mixing up coverages on them. In the last three weeks, Witten, Gonzalez, and Jermichael Finley were all held to 50 yards or fewer.Key stat: Aside from a 31-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter, Davis was held to two catches for nine yards against New York. Key quote: "I think it's a function of our front, I think it's a function of the guys in the back row, as well as the linebackers doing a great job communicating, anticipating and knowing where those guys are because they are so good, as far as tight ends," defensive coordinator Perry Fewell said. "And some of it is luck. Vernon is a handful. He's as fast as a wide receiver. We have faced really elite tight ends, I think, this season. You go through the New England guys, you go Jermichael, all the way through, Gonzalez. We are battle-tested as far as that's concerned. We just have to be on top of our game on Sunday in order to defend another guy like that."
LT David Diehl, LG Kevin Boothe vs. DE/DT Justin Smith
David Diehl was playing left guard in their previous matchup while Kevin Boothe didn't play an offensive snap. Since the Week 10 meeting, the offensive line settled in and has not changed in the last four weeks. The continuity will only go so far as they take on Justin Smith, the heart and soul of the No. 1 run defense who can do it all – inside, outside, rush the pass and stop the run.Key stat: Smith was selected to the All-Pro team at two different positions – first-team at tackle and second-team at end. He was the first player ever to do so.
: "You never want to have any regrets," Diehl said. "You never want to look back and say, 'Hey, maybe I could have watched a little more film, maybe I could have worked on this technique a little bit more.' You're doing everything you can so that when you go into this game, number-one, you play relaxed, you play free, and that you know that, 'Hey, I laid everything out on the field' and hopefully you come out on top."