Who Makes a Giant Statement and Who Packs It In???

Posted: January 15, 2012 by Kodi in NFL, Pack It Up

The Green Bay Packers welcome Big Blue as they try to make up for 2007

The defending Super Bowl Champs still have a dirty taste in their mouths

Will this game turn into a QB battle and epic offensive explosion?

If so who has the upper hand

The New York Giants defeated the Atlanta Falcons to advance to the Divisional round of the playoffs and face the Green Bay Packers. It is hard not to think about the 2007 postseason when the Giants shocked the Packers on the way to winning Super Bowl XLII and ultimately ending legendary Packers QB Brett Favre’s career in Titletown. Since that game the Packers have transitioned to Aaron Rodgers who led Green Bay to becoming Super Bowl XLV champions. Rodgers continued his dominance throughout the regular season this year but when he steps onto the field he will lead the Packers in his first playoff game at home since the giant heartbreak of ’07.

Four years is a long time, especially in the football world and as much as people want to resurrect the similarities between the ’07 game and Sunday’s match-up they are doing themselves a disfavor. The Giants of ’07 were a top 10 rated defense against the run and the pass while ranking 4th in the league in rushing the ball while Eli Manning had the 21st ranked pass offense. The Giants this season have the 5th ranked pass offense and the worst rush offense while their defense is 29th against the pass and 19th against the run. It was the Giants ability to take over games defensively and kill the clock by running the ball that allowed them to dominate on the way to upsetting the undefeated Patriots. The Giants have played well in the last three games including their dominant performance against the Falcons but they ranked 25th in points allowed during the regular season and allowed the 27 most yards.

I am in no way saying that the Packers defense is hands down better than the Giants because they have given up the most yards in all of football but they allowed 41 less points the Big Blue. What I am insinuating is that this game may not be about the running game or defenses but rather about a QB duel and if that is true it’s hard for anyone to take Eli over Aaron. This game will likely come down to turnovers and the Packers defense leads the league in interceptions and takeaways but Eli has cut down on his mistakes this season. Last year Manning threw a career high 25 picks but cut that down to 16 this season although if this becomes a shootout the ball-hawking Packers know that Peyton’s little brother is willing to take some chances.

New York does have the worst rushing attack in the NFL but they have racked up over 100 total rushing yards in 5 of their last 6 games. However, the Giants haven’t had great success running the ball in the postseason, even when they did run the ball well. In 2007 Ahmad Bradshaw and Brandon Jacobs combined for 405 yards and 4 touchdowns on the way to the franchises 3rd Super Bowl championship. Since then they have run for just 245 yards and no touchdowns in the postseason and the Packers ranked 14th in rush defense and gave up just 10 rushing touchdowns all year. Eli Manning has had to put this Giants team on his shoulders and they did a tremendous job during the regular season posting numbers that shattered the Giants previous passing records.

Manning played terribly in 2008 against the Eagles in the playoffs throwing for just 169 yards and 2 interceptions but he bounced back in a big way against the Falcons. Last week Eli completed nearly 72 percent of his passes for 277 yards and 3 touchdowns. Victor Cruz had over 1500 receiving yards and 9 touchdowns but was constantly double covered against Atlanta and finished the game with just 2 catches for 28 yards. Hakeem Nicks stepped up in his first career playoff game and caught 6 balls for 115 yards and 2 touchdowns. WR Mario Manningham was riddled by injury which allowed Cruz to have such a big season but he stepped up in a big way in his first playoff game catching 4 balls for 68 yards and another touchdown. Manningham has had a touchdown catch in 5 of the last 7 games he played in but has also completely fallen off the map in the games he doesn’t perform in catching just 4 balls for 61 yards in those 2 games.

The Green Bay Packers had an extremely prolific offense behind the golden arm of Aaron Rodgers who was on a record setting pace early in the season to cool off in the final few weeks. He didn’t play in the season finale but in the 15 games he did play he racked up over 4600 passing yards, 45 touchdowns, just 6 interceptions and didn’t lose a fumble all season long. WR Greg Jennings missed the final 3 games of the season but was just 51 yards from recording his 4th straight 1000+ yard season. Jennings is returning to the Packers and that’s important because of the versatility he brings to this offense.

In the final 3 games of last year’s playoffs Jennings had 20 catches for 235 yards and 2 touchdowns. Jennings gets all the teams best defenders which has opened up opportunities for other receivers, which the Packers have many, but none have turned it on more than Jordy Nelson. Nelson had 68 catches for 1263 yards and 15 touchdowns during the regular season but he is just continuing his success from a tremendous postseason run. During the same stretch as Jennings Nelson had 21 catches for 286 yards receiving and 2 touchdowns, which can make you understand why defenses have such a hard time pinpointing one player to focus on shutting down.

All you need to do is look at Rodgers numbers from the regular season or by looking at his stats from 4 of his 5 playoff starts. I will admit he had a dismal performance against the Chicago Bears in last year’s NFC Championship but if you ask me I think he was effected by concussion like symptoms. In those four other games Rodgers has thrown for at least 3 touchdowns in each matchup and passed for 304, 366 and 423 yards in three of them. He has just 3 postseason interceptions but two of those came against the Bears and the other came in the Packers Wild Card loss against the Arizona Cardinals in 2009. Rodgers has not had the opportunity to play a postseason game at Lambeau Field but he does have a 27-8 record in Green Bay during the regular season. He has nearly the identical amount of yards at home versus on the road but he his completion percentage is 4 percent better at 67.1, he has 12 more touchdowns, 72, 4 less interceptions, 17 and his QB rating increases by over 10 points at 109.4.

The Giants have gone on a three game winning streak coming into this matchup with the Packers and have recorded 13 sacks in those games. Many people believe in momentum in the playoffs and the Giants clearly have it but I don’t know how much their pass rush is really going to help them. The Giants have had 49 sacks in the regular season but just 19 of those sacks came in 3 seconds or less. Why is 3 seconds so important? Because Rodgers has one of the quickest releases in the game and his ability to read defenses at the line shortens his time to make a decision. In the Packers week 13 win against the Giants Rodgers had just 18 passes that were thrown after 3 seconds, 7 of those were play action passes and the Giants recorded just 2 sacks.

In the end I think that the home field crowd and a QB playing on a completely different level will be the difference and of course turnovers. Green Bay has the 2nd best turnover margin at +27 while the Giants have just a +7 difference and Eli is much more likely to turn the ball over than Aaron. Tom Coughlin is 2-5 against the Packers while Mike McCarthy is 3-1 versus the Giants but that 1 loss still lingers. I think that this game will be extremely entertaining but the Packers are going to be able to walk away victorious. The Giants will give the Packers a run for their money but I’m taking Green Bay 38-31 and they will move on to the NFC Championship.

 

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