Giants’ Run Ends Sunday; Pack Will Roll To Title Game

The national subplot leading into the divisional round matchup between the Giants and Packers is how history may be repeating itself. Remember, the ’07 Giants almost handed the unbeaten Patriots a loss late in the season and then took them down in the Super Bowl. Now, four years later, they can do it again to the Pack. Plus, they won here the last time Green Bay hosted a playoff game on the frozen, sub-zero tundra in the NFC title game in Favre’s last game as a Packer.

There’s been a lot of steam on the Giants all week. They’re healthy, confident and can do the two things necessary to knock off the champs: run the ball and rush the passer. But the closer we get to kickoff, I get the sense that most rational minds are starting to come back around to the side of the green and gold–and there are many reasons why.

It starts with the location of the game. The Packers are 22-3 at home since that playoff loss and are riding a 13-game home winning streak. This year at Lambeau, with Rodgers under center, the average score has been 39-19. They’ve trailed at home once all season, 3-0 against Denver.

But #1 seeds in the NFC have lost three of the last four in this round–the Pack did it to the Falcons just last season. I find it so interesting that from 1990-2007 the #1 seed was unbeaten in this round and now it’s become a very dangerous spot.

I’ve said it all week: I believe we will see a different Packers defense in this game. No, they’re not going to suddenly channel last year’s squad, but they’ve had a lot of time to listen to the naysayers since Christmas night. They can’t stop the run. They can’t rush the passer. Look what the Giants did to them, etc. etc.

This is a proud, rested, healthy unit. The Pack gets linebackers Desmond Bishop and AJ Hawk back for this matchup and they welcome the return of Ryan Pickett, whose loss was felt clearly in the Chiefs and Bears games, especially against the run. The Giants ran very well against the Pack and last week against the Falcons. This from a team that ranked dead last in the NFL this season. No one is calling Ahmad Bradshaw and Brandon Jacobs “Thunder and Lightning” anymore. Jacobs played well last week, but tends to disappear in big spots. Bradshaw is still not 100% with a foot injury, practicing only on Fridays and not playing as many snaps as he would if healthy.

I think the Packers step up with their run defense and put the game in Ei Manning’s hands. Putting him in second and third and long situations makes him an entirely different QB–as it does most signal callers. Don’t get me wrong, the Giants will score some points–but not as many as they did in the first meeting. Brad Jones may get the start at outside linebacker and will likely be much more disciplined than Walden. Clay Matthews’ matchup with Kareem McKenzie is a mismatch and the Giants will have to give him some help.

The Pack’s biggest advantage in this matchup is when they have the ball. They hung 77 points on the G-men in their last two meetings (taking away Matthews’ pick six) and Rodgers’ passer rating has been sky high in both games. The Giants have a terrific defensive line. Jason Pierre-Paul has become one of the league’s top pass rushers and he had his way with Marshall Newhouse in the first meeting. But Chad Clifton is back. In fact, the Pack’s offensive line is intact for the first time since Week 3. Clifton and Sitton missed the first matchup–they’ll hold up against the pass rush.

The Packers have all kinds of advantages in the passing game. With Jennings back, he’ll draw much of Corey Webster’s attention. That leaves Aaron Ross (recovering from a concussion) and rookie Prince Amukamara (and maybe even former Packer Will Blackmon) to cover Nelso, Jones, Driver and Cobb. Though Cobb’s been slowed by a groin injury, I get the feeling he will make two or three big plays in this game, in both the passing and the return game. The Giants will have a completely healthy Michael Boley back at linebacker–he’s very good and will be charged with keeping an eye on Jermichael Finley, who was left open often in the previous game. The Giants may try the same game plan, hoping he’ll continue to drop some easy catches, particularly when a linebacker or safety is nearby.

And then there’s Rodgers. He hasn’t had a chance to show his stuff since Drew Brees broke Dan Marino’s passing record. Since then, Rodgers’ MVP award-in-waiting has been handed by many to Brees. Some actually point to Matt Flynn’s video game numbers in Week 17 as a reason to give the award to Brees–and to question whether Rodgers benefits from McCarthy’s system. Rodgers no doubt is feeling a little disrespected right now. You won’t hear him say it, but on Sunday he’ll let his arm do the talking.

Want another reason to like the Pack this Sunday? Mike McCarthy is 7-1 in games following an open week. He knows how to use the extra time and he knows how to make sure there is no rust on his players when they run through the tunnel. Now, this has been no ordinary week. The tragic death of Michael Philbin has shaken this organization. Many players have never experienced a loss of someone close–Aaron Rodgers had never been to a funeral before. Joe Philbin is beloved and has the ultimate respect of his players. As difficult as this week has been emotionally, the players will keep him in their minds and close to their hearts when they take the field.

I’ve been accused at times, by some, of being a nervous Nellie. Not this week. The Giants are a quality team, playing better than their 10-7 record. But these Packers are healthy, playoff-tested and will be ready for this game. They will get off to a fast start (very important) and they will play the best 60 minutes of football we’ve seen all season.

Packers 35  Giants 20

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17 Responses to Giants’ Run Ends Sunday; Pack Will Roll To Title Game

  1. keek says:

    Sunday marks the 45th Anniversary of Super Bowl 1 vs KC. GO PACK GO!

  2. Cale says:

    Dave, this is probably most well thought out article I’ve read about this game all week. You hit all the nails on the head. The NY media has somehow made a 9-7 (now 10-7) team into an unstoppable force. Once people get back to reality, its easy to see that the Pack should win fairly convincingly. Keep up the good work here and on Kfan!

  3. lynndickeyfan says:

    This is going to be a GOOD GAME! I can not wait. I just wish there was a way to punish the naysayers after the Packer victory, but I guessing winning will have to be enough. I haven’t wanted to win a game this badly, since we played the Bears in the Playoff. Let’s Go Packers! I can hear the chant!

  4. Marty says:

    Once again nice article. I love it that everyone is on the NY wagon and we can just sit back and watch things unfold. I hope we crush the Giants by at least 21 and then bring on the challenger and I don’t care who it is because it won’t matter.

  5. Bill, the voice of reason says:

    Gentlemen, the time has come. If everyone does their jobs, they’ve got this. Look no further ahead than the end of the 4th quarter Sunday. The 15-1 season means nothing right now. This is the time, and Lambeau is the place. Go out there, execute, play to your strengths, and reap the rewards. Let’s make it happen.

  6. capablecarl says:

    I’m really looking forward to all the “experts” touting the Giants as the real team to beat, pretending like they never said that and acting like they knew the Packers were going to win all along. I can already hear these idiots right now…

  7. larry says:

    hey Davey, i’m like u a nervous nellie also. like last year, i was nervous all the way thru the playoffs to the super bowl, and then i just knew they were going to win it. like u feel now. sorry, davey. i know your all sick of me saying this, and i sure hope i’m wrong, but i said this is the team i hated to see the most. they match up well with us. i know last years game was a blow out but this is now. i think we will have some rust, and we will be behind early 10 points or more, maybe 17-7 then they will go to the hurry up and get in sync again. it will be interesting to see if we win the toss if we defer, it sounds like u want the ball and score and get the lead, i would defer, i like the ball in second half after mm makes changes. i still think we will win 38-34but, i would not be shocked if we lose. they are not intimidated by us or lambeau. go world champs

  8. Trashman says:

    Great article. Well thought out and convincing. I guess Larry and I are the most nervous about these Giants. I know our Pack is the better team and SHOULD win today, but something about the Giants makes me nervous. I think it may be my memories of that horrible OT loss to them in the NFC championship a few years back. I know they were different teams (and more imortantly, different GB quarterbacks??), but I don’t get the feeling that the Giants are scared to play in Lambeau because of that game and that sucks because everybody should be afraid to play in GB. Here’s hoping we put a butt-whipping on them early! I am ready to see the sideline shots of that pouty-faced Eli and that confused/angry Coughlin we see when the Giants are losing. Go Pack!

  9. larry says:

    hey trashman, i hear ya, one last thought. i still think 3 guys to watch on giants are bradshaw, cruz, and ballard there te. we have not stopped the te all year. also, last game 12 got 4-5 balls knocked down, when thta happens it could be intercepted on lucky bounce. really have to watch for that. i just get this feeling the way sf won yesterday and if giants beat us they play at sf, and they won.t beat them there. it may be sf and harbaughs year, he coaches the way i would with emotion and passion. i hope i’m wrong. watch for crabtree to help alot on paul early with clifton until he thinks clifton can handle him by himself. saine is still my sleeper, hold onto the ball, saints were better team, but t.o ‘s beat them. go world champs

  10. Carl Gerbshcmidt says:

    Green Bay is terrible…. I’m glad the Giants won.

  11. Bueller says:

    Dave you had every right to be nervous and yet you said you weren’t. Let’s see, Giants beat us in Title game not so long ago and almost beat us a few weeks ago. They match up great with GB….. The defense couldn’t be hidden against this potent NYG offense.

  12. Lumpamania says:

    oops!!!! Sorry Davey!!!!

  13. matthew joseph says:

    Will you finally admit that Rodger’s isn’t the greatest thing since sliced bread? He’s an above average QB in a league that makes it easy for QBs to be good. And this is what he comes up with?

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