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In 2007, the New York Giants got a shot at redemption against an undefeated New England team and took full advantage of the opportunity. Playing the best football they have all season, this year’s New York team looks to do the same thing against a Green Bay Packers team that has won 21 of their last 22 games, including last year’s Super Bowl run. With temperatures expected to remain below freezing the entire game, the stage is set at Lambeau Field for what is sure to be a great playoff game.
Led by the likely MVP of the league, Aaron Rodgers and company come into Sunday’s 4:30 pm game with a healthy Greg Jennings, whose return from injury will help Pro-Bowler Jordy Nelson attack a much-improved Giants’ secondary that will be sure to have their work cut out for them. With cornerback Aaron Ross set to play after a hard hit in last week’s game, and the recent resurgence of the Giants’ front four, the New York defense looks to have as good chance as any to stop the Packers’ aerial assault that has produced 45 touchdowns this season.
Like it was in 2007, the key to putting the breaks on Rodgers is to hit him and hit him often. With a healthy Osi Umenyiora and pro-bowler Jason Pierre-Paul drawing most of the attention on the ends, the front four have found recent success at getting to the quarterback with pressure right down the middle. With four Giants providing pretty of pressure up front, it gives New York the rare ability to cover the field with seven defenders, which is something they will need to do against the Packer’s offense in Lambeau. This is the biggest difference in the Giants the Packers will play this Sunday as opposed to the team they beat in the regular season.
For former Super Bowl MVP, Eli Manning, the game plan remains the same as it was back in 2007. The Giants have regained their identity as a rushing offense that can change up their look between the power running of Brandon Jacobs and the speed and agility of Ahmad Bradshaw. Yes, they had a poor regular season rushing the football, but lately they have found a way to make it click and there is no reason to believe that will change this weekend. Add to that deep threat Victor Cruz and Hakeem Nicks off the play action pass and you have an offense that is ready to go toe-to-toe with an offense that averaged 35 points a game.
The Giants need to establish the running game early and then take advantage of a Packers defense that gambles big and ranks last in the league. With a league leading 31 interceptions, the Green Bay secondary will try to jump on any mistake Manning throws on them, making them equally susceptible to big plays if the New York receiving core gets a little separation. With Victor Cruz’ uncanny ability to make plays after the catch, the Giants offense matches up especially well against Green Bay. Keep Clay Matthews away from the Manning and get ready for some big plays early and often.
Carrying the heavy hearts left by the devastating loss of offensive coordinator Joe Philbin’s 21-year-old son, Michael T. Philbin, the Green Bay Packers will play an emotional game that means more than just a ticket to the NFC Championship Game next week.
Look for an offensive shootout between two great offenses. In the end the game will be decided by which defense can make that one big stop late in the fourth quarter. In the end, it will be a…