Giants @ Packers: Notes


by Andrew Coughlin


The Green Bay Packer finished the regular season 15 - 1.  The New York Giants finished 9 - 7 and are now 10 - 7 with their decisive win against the Atlanta Falcons last weekend.  Yet, the perception is in a lot of media outlets, that the Giants are the favorites in this game.

I can understand how some experts may have this view.  The Giants are indeed a sexy pick to make it to the Super Bowl.  Some experts have compared them to the 2010 Packers that won six games in a row enroute to a Super Bowl title.  New York has gotten pretty healthy over the past few weeks and seem to have a wave of momentum from beating the Dallas Cowboys to make it into the playoffs and then taking down the Falcons 24 - 2, over the past two weeks.

The Packers, however, seem to have been on cruise control the past two weeks.  They made a statement by taking out the Chicago Bears in decent fashion in week 16.  But it appears the Packers have been "slowing" down their momentum a bit heading into the playoffs.  

Most of the starters didn't even play in their week 17 win against the Detroit Lions.  So, with their first round bye and lack of playing time for most of their starting personnel in week 17, its safe to say, if we judge momentum on playing time, the Packers 1st teams have little of it or both.

But let's be real here.  The Packers are 15 - 1, they earned the first round bye and have home field advantage throughout the playoffs.  Their offense can score on any defense in the NFL.  

The Giants are healthy on both sides of the ball now, especially on that defensive front in which they rotate 7 guys, 4 of which could be All - Pros.  If there were two defenses I would not want to face right now it would be the Denver Broncos and the Giants.

Having said that, I do not think the Giants will contain Green Bay's offense enough.

Prediction: Packers over the Giants    45 - 38


What to Watch

If you can keep your eyes off of Aaron Rodgers passing to his receivers for a couple of plays, I would look into the trenches and focus in on the two DEs for the Giants going at it with Green Bay's RT and LT.  Brian Bulaga and Chad Clifton, the two starters at the start of the season, will lineup at the two tackle spots together for the first time since week 4.  Their difficult task will be to stop/contain the Giants DEs, which will not be an easy assignment.

Like Green Bay on their offensive line, the Giants will have a healthy defensive line for this game.  Osi Uemenyiora came back last week after missing a few weeks due to injury.  Pair him with Justin Tuck, who has fought through some injuries himself, Jason Pierre-Paul and their rotating DTs and this is about as good as a defensive line as you will see around the league.

So, if you can stay focused, watch the battle that will be happening throughout this game at each end of the lines.  Both of these teams like to pass, therefore we will see some epic mini-wars taking place all game long.


Key Matchup

In an interview this week, Aaron Rodgers mentioned Giants CB Cory Webster and wondered who he would be lined up against during the game.  Rodgers stated that Webster usually takes on the responsibility of covering the opposing teams' No. 1 WR, which, in Green Bay's case would normally be Greg Jennings.  However, Jennings has been out for the past 3 weeks and this will be his first game back.  In his absence Jordy Nelson has filled the No. 1 WR slot nicely (3 Gms: 17 REC, 308 Yds and 5TDs).

I think Corey Webster is the most underrated CB in the entire league.  He's having a Pro Bowl year and is still in the shadow of guys like: Nnamdi Asomugha and Darrelle Revis.  Both of those players are great players, but that's the kind of year Webster is having.  In last weeks win against the Falcons, I watched Webster shut down Roddy White and held him to 5 catches for 52 Yds.

It will be interesting to see whether he lines up across Nelson or Jennings.  My guess would be he goes after Nelson and the coaching staff will see how well Jennings reacts on that bum knee, then they'll make their adjustments.


Key Players


The obvious choice would be Rodgers, but that's just too easy.  Rodgers will get his unless his throwing is somehow adversely affected by the cold, which is possible, but highly unlikely.  I have a feeling that Defensive Coordinator Dom Capers is going to turn CB (he's not really a CB anymore; he's really a DB/LB/Blitzing Monsterback if you will) Charles Woodson loose.  Woodson will be all over the field on Sunday.  I know he's older and doesn't have that same speed, but he is still one of the best football players in the league.  


There has been a lot of hype over the recent sucess of DE Jason Pierre-Paul and for good reason; he is that good.  Packer Beat Writer Bob McGinn (one of the best Beat Writers covering any sport in the U.S.) had this to say of Pierre-Paul: (He) stands 6 feet 4½ inches, is up to 283 pounds, 17 more than he weighed at pro day in March 2010. He has lost none of his explosiveness. Even more surprising, Pierre-Paul is playing the run extremely well, using his long arms to gain separation and make the tackle. Four defensive linemen were selected ahead of Pierre-Paul: Ndamukong Suh (No. 2), Gerald McCoy (No. 3), Tyson Alualu (No. 10) and Brandon Graham (No. 13). Knowing what we know now, Pierre-Paul should have been picked before all of them.

Pierre-Paul is a LB in a DE's body.  The Giants shift him all over the line, so watch him closely as he will have a big game.  The Packers just need to make sure no one else on that front does as well.



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