Giants Travel to Green Bay to Play the Packers
By Michael Stewart
Introduction: The last two times the Giants won the Super Bowl (2007 & 2011), They needed to go through the Packers in Lambeau Field against Brett Favre (23-20) and Aaron Rodgers (37-20). Well hopefully; three times a charm as the Giants will once again need to go through the Packers at Lambeau Field if they want to get to the next round.
However; this time could be a different outcome as the Packers are arguably one of the hottest teams entering the playoffs. QB Aaron Rodgers finished with 40 TD’s passes with only 7 INTS and the Packers are riding a 6 game winning streak heading into the playoffs. Early in the season, these two teams met on October 9th in Lambeau and the Packers beat the Giants 23-16.
Since that game, both teams are better and this game could go down to the final minute of the game. QB Eli Manning is 2-0 in playoff games at Green Bay, beating two pretty good QB’s (Favre and Rodgers). WR Jody Nelson didn’t play against the Giants during the season, but he will be ready and most certainly a handful for any Giant CB assigned to cover him. Defensively, the Giants finished the regular season by allowing 17.8 points per game and seemed to improve dramatically with their pass rush down the stretch. The Packers defense has been solid against the run all season and will rely on this against a Giants running attack that has been ranked at the bottom of the league.
Top 3 Matchups:
- Giants pass rush against QB Aaron Rodgers: As I mentioned above, the Giants pass rush has been getting better over the final 4 games of the season by generating 8 sacks. They must put steady pressure on Rodgers (which they didn’t do in their regular season game) if they want to advance to the next round of the playoffs. Not suggesting that they need to sack him 6+ times, but at least 3 sacks with countless pressure/hits that will disrupt Rodgers timely and hopefully create turnovers. It’s a lot to ask from the Giants as Rodgers is deceptively mobile and is dangerous in the pocket as well as rolling out.
- Giants Defense-vs-Packers Offense: The Packers are averaging 262.4 through the air and 106.3 on the ground for a total of 368.8 yards per game. The Giants have given up 251.1 through the air and 88.6 on ground for a total of 339.7 yards per game surrendered. This matchup could be the most important one of the three listed as the weather could actually help the Giants defense and hurt the Packers offense.
- Giants running game –vs- Packers run defense: The Giants finished the regular season averaging 88.2 yards per game (ranked 29th ), however; since rookie RB Paul Perkins has been given more touches and appears to have leaped frog over Rashad Jennings as the team’s top RB, the Giants running game has gotten better. The Packers finished the regular season ranked 8th in the league against the run (94.7) and will attempt to shut down the Giants running attack again as they did during the regular season matchup. Not expecting the Giants to duplicate their performance against the Redskins; where they rushed for 161 yards. However; the Giants only gained 43 yards on the ground against the Packers during the regular season and that can’t happen again. If the Giants can rush for 100 yards, they should be able to compete and could have a chance to win the game.
What to look for: I expect the Packers to offensively throw everything at the Giants defense; running, drop backs and roll outs. Offensively; the Giants have not done much over the last 5 weeks and need to put some points on the board with a mixture of run/pass. Manning can’t turn the ball over and historically, he has always been able to rise to the occasion in the playoffs. On Defense, the Giants must play they very best and create turnovers to make this a game.
The Packers defense, especially their front 7 are as solid as any top defensive teams in the league. However; the secondary ranks near the bottom of the league (31st). To make matters worse for the Packers is that 3 DB’s (Quinten Rollins, Damarious Randall & Makinton Dorleant) got injured against the Lions and are questionable for this game. Therefore; I expect the Packers to be aggressive with their front 7 with blitzes and a relentless pass rush.
Prediction: The forecast for the game on Sunday will be very cold with temperatures around 15-20 degrees, with the wind chill around 5-10 degrees. How this affects the players will vary as the turf could cause problems with footing. Both teams rely heavily on their passing game, so the weather conditions could affect scoring opportunities on both sides. With that being said and being that this is the Giants 1st playoff game in 5 years, I expect them to be ready to play and put forth a solid effort.
I expect the game to be very physical; with each team turning the ball over due to weather conditions. In the end, I expect the game to be much closer than the 1st meeting between the two, and to be honest; it can go either way, depending on which team mistakes a crucial mistake (turnover/penalty). In the end, got to go with the Packers (home team) edging out the Giants in the closing minutes of the 4th quarter to advance to the next round.
Final Score: Packers 17 Giants 13