8

January

Packers To Face New York Giants Next Sunday in NFC Divisional Round

Aaron Rodgers and the Packers will take on the New York Giants next Sunday at Lambeau Field.

Aaron Rodgers and the Packers will take on the New York Giants next Sunday at Lambeau Field.

With a 24-2 victory over the Atlanta Falcons in the NFC Wild Card round Sunday, the New York Giants (10-7) ensured themselves a trip to Green Bay next weekend to take on the Packers in the NFC Divisional Round. The game will take place at 3:30 CST and be aired on FOX.

The New Orleans Saints, who defeated the Detroit Lions 45-28 on Saturday, will travel to San Francisco to play the 49ers in the other Divisional matchup.

New York left no doubt who should be the team advancing in the NFC playoffs Sunday. They worked through a slow first half with a 7-2 lead, then poured in on the Falcons in the second half with 17 points, including two Eli Manning touchdown passes.

The Giants rushing attack, which ranked 32 in the NFL during the regular season, rushed for 172 yards on 31 carries and was a driving force for the offense all afternoon. Brandon Jacobs had 92 of those yards, and Ahmad Bradshaw tacked on another 63.

The Giants’ defense also had a standout day, limiting the Falcons to just 247 total yards and zero points. Quarterback Matt Ryan was sacked just twice but was generally under heavy pressure for most of the game, and Michael Turner ran for just 2.7 yards a carry. They did lose Deon Grant (groin) and Aaron Ross (concussion), two key players in their secondary, to injuries. That could be a big factor next Sunday if both are forced to miss.

Even so, New York will ride a three-game winning streak into Lambeau Field. This will be a confident bunch, and for good reason. The Giants are playing as well right now as they have all season.

Sunday’s meeting will mark the first playoff game between the Giants and Packers since New York knocked off Green Bay in the 2007 NFC Championship game. However, the Packers have beaten the Giants in two regular season games since then, winning 45-17 in December of 2010 and 38-35 earlier this season.

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Zach Kruse is a 23-year-old sports journalist with a passion for the Green Bay Packers. He currently lives in Wisconsin and is working on his journalism degree, while also covering prep sports for The Dunn Co. News.

3

December

Packers vs. Giants Preview: 5 Things to Watch

The Green Bay Packers (11-0) will take their undefeated record into New York on Sunday, as the Giants (6-5) welcome the Packers in a Week 13 showdown at MetLife Stadium.

The basics 

When: 3:15 CDT; Sunday, Dec. 4, 2011

Where: MetLife Stadium; East Rutherford, NJ

TV: FOX; Joe Buck and Troy Aikman with the call, Pam Oliver on the sidelines.

Radio: 620 AM WTMJ (Milwaukee), Packers Radio Network, Westwood One, NFL Sunday Drive (Sirius Radio).

Series: Packers lead, 30-23-2 (Packers won the last regular season game, 45-17, in Green Bay on Dec. 26, 2010).

5 things to watch

1. Protecting against pressure

Giants defensive coordinator Perry Fewell said this week that the Giants were “going to get after Rodgers’ ass.” Take that for what you will, but a deciding factor in this game will be how the Packers offensive line—without Josh Sitton and Chad Clifton–control the Giants pass rush up front. Justin Tuck, Jason Pierre-Paul and Mathias Kiwanuka can all get home in one-on-one situations. The Packers may have to give left tackle Marshall Newhouse some help to keep the Giants’ struggling but talented ends off Rodgers. If he has time, Rodgers will pick apart the Giants secondary like he did last season.

2. Strike early

Losers of three straight games, the 6-5 Giants are a team in desperate need of a win. Last week’s defensive meltdown in New Orleans did very little to raise the confidence of this team, and the best way to put these guys on edge might be a quick lead, much like the Packers accomplished last December at Lambeau when Green Bay raced out to a 14-0 advantage in the first quarter. If the Packers march up and down the field on their first two possessions, the Giants defense might fold.

3. Contain the run

The Giants currently rank dead last in the NFL in yards per game and yards per carry, but when they’ve won big games over the likes of New England, Buffalo and Philadelphia, New York found success on the ground. The Giants are likely to get back Ahmad Bradshaw in some capacity, and bigger backs like Brandon Jacobs have given the Packers trouble at times this season. Add in the fact that the Packers are without their top two tacklers—Desmond Bishop and A.J. Hawk—and you get the feeling that the Giants will attempt to control the game with their two running backs. The Packers need to keep a lid on the Giants running game and force Eli Manning to beat them singlehandedly.