The Giants will need to play a perfect game to beat the Packers on Sunday. It may be unlikely, but of all the teams still playing football right now, the Giants have the best chance of beating the 15-1 Packers, a team they lost to 38-35 in early December. The Giants have an impressive combination that most other teams cannot claim: they have a high powered offense that has the ability to score points on any given possession as well as a strong defense that can put constant pressure on Aaron Rodgers without calling six or seven man blitzes.
The Giants defense did not let up any points in their divisional game against the Falcons. Their front four dominated the Falcons’ offensive line and put constant pressure on Matt Ryan. The Giants racked up two sacks, five tackles for loss and hit Ryan on seven other occasions. The Falcons could not get their running game going and did not have enough time to throw the ball downfield to their deep threats. The Falcons only managed two plays over twenty yards and could not sustain any drives.
To keep the Packers’ offense in check, they will need to play an even better game on defense, one modeled after the Packers’ only loss of the season, a 19-14 defeat against the Kansas City Chiefs. The Chiefs put pressure on Aaron Rodgers all game, led by pro-bowl outside linebacker Tamba Hali who had three of the team’s four sacks and two other quarterback hits. The Chiefs dominated the line of scrimmage, and the Giants will need to do the same while likely only blitzing four or five on any given play. With Jason Pierre-Paul, Justin Tuck and Osi Umenyiora all healthy, they have the tools to do this, but will need to rely on their secondary to make big plays as well.
With Greg Jennings (who did not play against the Chiefs) returning, along with Jordy Nelson, James Jones, Donald Driver and Jermichael Finley, the Packers have more potent weapons than the Falcons. They will likely have to play a lot of zone defense against a quarterback known for picking apart the best defenses in the league. For the Giants to have a chance of slowing Aaron Rodgers and the Packers’ offense, they will need to be in the backfield before Rodgers has the chance to find the holes in their secondary. Pressuring Rodgers will be the key to this game.
Even so, the Giants will have to put up a lot of points in order to win this game. The Chiefs used four different runningbacks to combine for 139 rushing yards against the league’s fourteenth best rush defense. Using Ahmad Bradshaw and Brandon Jacobs succesfully will set up Eli Manning to pass against the leagues worst pass defense. Bradshaw and Jacobs combined for 155 yards against one of the top rushing defenses in the league last Sunday which allowed Manning to throw for 277 yards and three touchdowns. Playing in Green Bay against a team that hasn’t lost at home since October 2010, the Giants need to play their best game of the season to advance to the NFC championship.
Projected Score: Packers 31, Giants 28