Fascinating game here, because the matchups are really strength vs strength. The Patriots' defense is a long way from being elite, but its biggest strength is stopping the run. Getting through Wilfork and Brandon Spikes is tough. Expect Belichick to try to take away Frank Gore, and make Kaepernick beat the Pats with his arm. There will likely be one-on-one matchups on the outside if the 49ers can capitalize on them.
When New England has the football, obviously the strength of the Niners is the pass rush. The Patriots weren't able to neutralize JJ Watt, just limit how much destruction he could wreak, and I expect with Aldon Smith it will be similar. Pats will come out running, mixed with pass plays designed to get the ball out of Brady's hands quickly.
Basically, I expect the Patriots offense to have to operate more conservatively than it is used to doing. This will keep the game close, and the question is if the rookie under center for SF can bring the kind of playmaking ability he's shown in flashes while limiting the mistakes. My guess would be that San Francisco moves the ball pretty well, but there's a crucial second-half turnover that makes the difference.
Pats by a touchdown imho. Hope it's a great contest!
[ Edited by NorthEasterner on Dec 11, 2012 at 10:11 AM ]