25

November

Green Bay Packers vs. New York Giants Key Matchups

New York Giants defensive linemen Jason Pierre-Paul and Osi Umenyiora

The Packers are hoping they don’t see their #12 in this predicament on Sunday night

Packers Offensive Line vs. Giants Defensive Line

This is probably THE key to this game for the Packers.  Their offensive line has struggled when all of their regular starters were healthy and in position.  Now add to that a shuffled line to account for the loss of right tackle Bryan Bulaga against one of the best front four in the game.

While the Giants defensive front hasn’t had the mind-blowing season like they had a year ago, they are still very formidable.  After the success they had in getting to Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers in last season’s divisional playoff game, they will be looking to duplicate that output.   Jason Pierre-Paul, Chris Canty, Linval Joseph and Justin Tuck have accounted for 14.5 of the team’s 25 sacks this season.  Throw in four more by veteran end Osi Umenyiora and the Giants have a very deep and talented pass rush.

Dubbed the “NASCAR” package, New York’s front line will be looking to simply overpower and out-maneuver the Packers.  They want to collapse the pocket back into Rodgers and try to force a bad throw or get the sack.  They were able to wreak havoc on the Packers offense in that playoff game and it led to some turnovers.  Rodgers typically fares well against the blitz but the Giants may not have to bring extra bodies if their front four can get a push on their own.

The Packers are clearly aware of what is headed their way and have to be diligent in game-planning for it.  Any extra protection will go a long way to keep Green Bay’s chances of driving and moving the ball alive.  Of course, so would a productive running game, but there is no reason to think the Packers will suddenly get it going on the ground.  A better alternative would be the short pass (quick slant to Jordy Nelson or James Jones) and putting the backs in place to be a safety valve if all else fails.  The screen just hasn’t been there all season long so the check down could become a good friend of Rodgers’ before the day is up.

24

November

2012 NFL Regular Season Week 12: Packers vs Giants Preview

Eli Manning

Will Eli Manning shred the Packers again or can Green Bay avenge their playoff loss from last season?

It’s a game Green Bay Packers fans likely have had circled on their calendar since the schedule was released in spring.

At the end of last season, the New York Giants brought the Packers’ magical 15-1 season to dead stop as they beat Green Bay 37-20 at Lambeau Field on their way to the Super Bowl XLVI title.  It was one of the most stunning defeats in franchise history and the players and fans have been waiting patiently for a chance at revenge.

This Sunday, they get their chance.  The Packers get to face the Giants in New York Sunday night. The Packers are coming off an ugly 24-20 win over the Detroit Lions and lead the NFC North with a 7-3 record.  The Giants are coming off their bye and lead the NFC East with a record of 6-4.

The Packers face a Giants team that has been struggling as of late.  Quarterback Eli Manning has thrown zero touchdown passes and four interceptions in the last three games in which the Giants have a 1-2 record.   The team rested Manning who thought he may have been suffering from a “tired arm” and he says the time off has helped his arm recharge.

How will he fare against the Packers this week?

Scouting the Giants

Struggles aside, this is not a Giants team that should be taken lightly.  It’s not like the Packers need to be informed of that.

Manning has had his way with the Packers and could continue to given how banged up the Packers defense is.  If the game is close in the fourth quarter, that’s when Manning is at his best.  With Victor Cruz, Hakeem Nicks and Domenik Hixon leading the receiving corps, Manning has his fair share of targets to choose from.

Nicks has been banged up all season but is finally getting healthy.  He is the key to the Giants offense.  With him on the field, things open up more for Cruz and defenses usually cannot cover both.

The Giants rushing attack is led by Ahmad Bradshaw.  Bradshaw has 675 yards this season and is averaging 4.5 yards per carry with four touchdowns.  He hasn’t gained more than 57 yards on the ground since Week 6.  The Packers have a fairly solid run defense so it will be tough for Bradshaw to get going again versus Green Bay.

13

January

2012 NFC Divisional Playoffs: Green Bay Packers vs. New York Giants Preview: Moving On

After a very difficult and emotional week, the Green Bay Packers have a playoff game to play.

With the passing this week of offensive coordinator Joe Philbin’s son Michael, the Packers had a tough go during the lead up to  a game they must win or see their outstanding 15-1 season come to an end.

Throw in the unfortunate trash talk thrown in the direction of Lambeau Field by their opponents, the New York Giants, and the Packers have had one of the most unusual weeks before a playoff game in franchise history.

Last week, the Giants defeated the Atlanta Falcons 24-2 at home in an NFC Wild Card matchup.  The Giants played their best defense of the season with the only points for the Falcons coming from an Eli Manning intentional grounding penalty while he was in his own end zone.  The Giants gained a lot of confidence from that performance and led some of their players to guarantee victory against the team that finished the regular season with the best record in the league.

Let’s take a look at New York.

Key Giants Players

QB Eli Manning Manning is a very streaky quarterback.  When he’s hot, he’s incredibly tough to beat and especially so for a struggling Packers defense.  When Manning is off, however, he’s a gift that keeps on giving to opposing defenses.

It’s definitely been more of the good Manning than the bad this season and with a powerful pass rush on defense, Manning can relax and not feel like the weight of the entire team is on his shoulders.  He’s developed a rapport with his receivers and this was on display in the Packers’ 38-35 squeaker of a victory in New York earlier in the regular season.

WR Victor Cruz Perhaps no one else has come out of nowhere this season like Cruz has.  After playing in only three games last season thanks to a hamstring injury, Cruz exploded on the scene this season catching nine touchdowns for 1,536 yards, a Giants franchise record.

Throw in the talents of Mario Manningham, and the Giants have a spectacular one-two punch at receiver.  While they’re not quite there with the Packers receiving corps yet, the Giants can give any struggling secondary a fit and the Packers do fit into that category unfortunately.

11

January

Packers Stock Report: Divisional Playoff Round Edition

Charlie Peprah's play will be a key factor against the Giants on Sunday.

Hopefully the Packers didn’t spend their playoff bye week the same way I spent mine: Overeating, overdrinking and overtanning on the beach in Mexico. My cholesterol, blood-alcohol level and waist-line are at all-time highs right now.

If I had to play against the Giants on Sunday, they would have to hoist me into a wheelbarrow, push me onto the field, and dump me at the 50-yard line. My massive girth would probably manage to come up with at least one tackle. At the very least, the ballcarrier would be slowed by having to run around my Corona-filled belly.

But enough about me. I didn’t see any Packers players on the beach or in the bars so they were (probably) getting ready to play the Giants and win a Super Bowl.

This week’s stock report is different than the others. Since the Packers didn’t play, I’m listing five players that need to play at either a rising or steady level on Sunday. If each player does this, the Packers should win and play for the NFC championship at Lambeau Field.

Charlie Peprah
Ever since the Packers defense gave up a bunch of long passes to the Giants in Week 13, it seems like Dom Capers has instructed his CBs to give opposing WRs a huge cushion at the line of scrimmage. I think a lack of trust in Peprah plays a role in Capers’ conservative approach. Peprah was bad against the Giants and hasn’t been consistent in doing what any safety needs to do: provide coverage over the top to defend the deep pass. If Peprah has a good game on Sunday, it means the Giants aren’t connecting on long bombs. If Peprah has an outstanding game on Sunday, it also means the Giants TEs are contained and their run game is limited. I’d settle for two of the three.

Chad Clifton
Welcome back, Chad. Now go out there and block Jason Pierre-Paul, Justin Tuck and Osi Umenyiora. Clifton was as sturdy as ever in the playoffs last season and, if healthy,  I have no doubt he’ll hold his own against whomever the Giants line up across from him. If Clifton is good, and Giants defensive coordinator Perry Fewell gets frustrated and starts blitzing, Rodgers will pick it apart and the Packers will roll.

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.