Friday, January 13, 2012

Giants-Packers: The Smoking Guns of Aaron and Eli

In a rematch between two incredibly high-powered offenses, the Giants have a chance to prove that they can beat the Packers. To do so, they must make sure that the ball is not Aaron Rodgers’ hands in the final moments of the game.

Everyone is talking about how this season compares to the 2007 playoff run that sent the Giants to a Super Bowl championship. While there certainly are some differences, it still looks eerily similar. However, now it’s Eli Manning, not the defense, who is the driving force behind this New York team.

In this game, Manning must be close to perfect. Last time the two teams met, Manning torched the Packers’ secondary for 347 yards and 3 touchdowns. However, his one mistake was a pick six to Clay Matthews, something he cannot afford in this contest.

These Packers are last in the league in passing defense, even worse than the Patriots. However, they are built on getting turnovers, as Matthews’ play shows. While Manning’s career has been plagued by turnovers, he has done a much better job limiting them this year. They being said, he has still had his miscues. Manning must not turn the ball over on Sunday. Giving Rodgers a short field or even a defensive score would be devastating.

Manning should have at least one of his main guys in single coverage. Whoever the Packers decide to double team, either Victor Cruz or Hakeem Nicks, the other should be open fairly often. And then there’s always Mario Manningham.

The case has been made that the Packers defense has not been as bad as the numbers show, it’s just because teams throw on them a lot to keep pace with Rodgers. If that is true, the defense will need to step up in a big way on Sunday.

Another key for the Giants is the run game. Abysmal this season, it has been revitalized by having a healthy combination of Ahmad Bradshaw and Brandon Jacobs. A solid day on the ground will eat up the clock and limit the time Rodgers has the ball. However, I think the Giants may struggle a bit running the ball. The Packers’ rush defense is much stronger than their secondary, and the Giants barely reached 100 total rushing yards the last time they met.

When Rodgers has the ball in his hand, he’s going to produce. He has been a monster all year. He threw for almost 400 yards and 4 touchdowns against the Giants despite getting little help from his running game. Rodgers would love to have Ryan Grant and the rest of his back help him a little bit, but he should be able to get the job done on his own. That’s how good he is and how bad the Giants’ secondary is. Rodgers should go off on them. Expect a heavy dose of Jordy Nelson deep, as well as a healthy Greg Jennings. Rodgers has so many options that it will be impossible to stop him.

The Giants pass rush is the key. They must get to Rodgers and they must do it fast. Rodgers releases the ball so quickly, which is why Jason Pierre-Paul, Justin Tuck, and Osi Umenyiora must be on the top of their game. They need to rattle Rodgers if they want to have any chance of stopping him. Having Chad Clifton back for the Packers will certainly help.

This game looks to be another shootout and defensive stops will be the key. Whoever can force the most punts or get a key turnover will win the game. Rodgers should be his usual self and throw for 300 plus yards and multiple touchdowns. Manning should do slightly less, but I think the Packers will be able to get another game-changing interception on him. Both running games are going to struggle, so it’s going to come down to the quarterback play.

In a battle between Rodgers versus Manning, Rodgers will come out on top.

This will be the last game of the weekend and possibly the most exciting. There will be a lot of scoring and it will keep fans on the edge of their seats. In the end, the Packers will be sitting pretty in Lambeau, on their way to a second consecutive NFC championship game.

Green Bay 34, New York 30

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