Giants-Packers Preview

Keys to Victory:
1.)  Make Eli Manning uncomfortable.  Eli Manning led the league in turnovers this year, but has been impressive so far in the playoffs.  If the Packers can pressure Manning, he might just return to his regular season ways.  Because the Packers secondary can play man-to-man, they should be able to spare some defenders to blitz Manning.
2.)  Balance.  Utilize Ryan Grant and Brett Favre.  The Packers need to be able to set up the run with a strong passing attack, and vice-versa.  During the second Chicago game, the Packers tried to do nothing but run in the first half and quickly became ineffective.  Then, in the second half, they became too pass happy, and the Bears easily shut down the passing game, with Brian Urlacher taking a Favre pick to the house for six to effectively seal the deal.  Green Bay must stay balanced on offense to keep an injury-riddled Giants defense on its heels.

3.)  Deal with the cold.  Green Bay did a great job of handling cold weather last week against Seattle.  Unfortunately, they did a terrible job of it in Week 16 against the Bears.  The Packers have been practicing with frozen footballs all week.  Green Bay needs to turn the weather into an advantage.

 Advantages

Run Offense:  Ryan Grant is a much better running back than any one player on the Giants.  The Giants have more depth, however, and can mix things up in the running game with the one-two punch of Brandon Jacobs and Ahmad Bradshaw.  So I’ll give a slight edge to the Giants.  ADVANTAGE GIANTS.

Pass Offense:  Brett Favre is at the top of the games, and has superior weapons at his disposal.  Eli Manning has been solid in the playoffs so far, but the cold may throw him off.  He’s not quite as used to it as Favre.  ADVANTAGE PACKERS.

Run Defense:  Both teams have excellent run defenses, with great run-stoppers on the defensive line and fast, aggressive linebackers.  ADVANTAGE EVEN.

Pass Defense:  Both teams have a great pass rush.  In fact, New York’s might be a little bit better.  But Al Harris and Charles Woodson may be the best cornerback tandem in the league, while the Giants’ injury-riddled secondary will have difficulty covering Donald Driver, Greg Jennings, James Jones, and Donald Lee.  ADVANTAGE PACKERS.

Special Teams:  Packers rookie kicker Mason Crosby led the league in points this year, and has great distance.  He hasn’t been quite as good in cold weather, though.  The Giants’ Lawrence Tynes may be more accurate, but he doesn’t have the distance of Crosby.  Both special teams units have good but not great return and coverage units, and punters who can be on or off.  ADVANTAGE EVEN.

Key Players–The following players have the greatest opportunity to help their team this week.

Green BayRyan Grant, Brett Favre, Atari Bigby, Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila, Mason Crosby

New York:  Plaxico Burress, Antonio Pierce, Osi Umenyiora, Ahmad Bradshaw, Aaron Ross

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