Giants vs. Packers: Was Week 13 a Fluke or Do the Giants Have a Shot?
I answered this same question right before Week 13. My answer then was that it would be a very close game and that the Giants had a decent shot at the upset. The only thing the Giants did wrong in that game was score too quickly at the end.
They left Aaron Rodgers 58 seconds to drive his team down the field and have the Packers pull it out in dramatic fashion.
Has anything changed since that time for either team, or should we expect high-scoring shootout?
In 2008, the Giants defeated the Packers in the playoffs at Lambeau Field, 23-20, on their way to a Super Bowl victory.
In Week 13 of this season, the Packers defeated the Giants at their home stadium, 38-35.
Who will prevail this time?
Running Game: Big Advantage to the Giants
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Brandon Jacobs had seven rushing touchdowns this season. That is exactly as many as Ryan Grant, John Kuhn and James Starks combined.
Now add in Ahmad Bradshaw's nine rushing touchdowns and you can see why the Giants running game is superior. Since keeping the ball away from Aaron Rodgers might be the best defense, this is an important consideration in sizing up this game.
Return Game: Big Advantage to the Packers
The Giants have nothing to match Randall Cobb.
You don't get a big kickoff return very often, but when you do, it usually turns the game in your favor.
Placekicking Game: Essentially Even
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Both teams have solid placekickers. When you look at their records, you can't find much difference.
Maybe we give Mason Crosby a slight edge over Lawrence Tynes in this game for two reasons. First, Crosby should be more familiar with the winds playing on his own home field. Second, Crosby's longest field goal of the season is a little longer than Tynes'.
But these should be minor differences.
Getting to the Quarterback: Advantage to the Giants
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This could be the Packers' Achilles' heel. They should be fortunate enough to have their opening day offensive line back in place if Bryan Bulaga and Chad Clifton are indeed able to play.
But the Giants combination of Jason Pierre-Paul, Osi Umenyiora and Justin Tuck create quite a force to be dealt with. They were a little dinged up during the season, but now they all seem to be firing on all cylinders.
Surely we would expect the Giants to be able to match that tally in a big game.
Punting Game: Slight Advantage to the Giants
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An unsung hero of the Giants victory over the Falcons was Steve Weatherford. His directional punts kept the Falcons bottled up in their own territory while the Giants offense was struggling to get started.
Tim Masthay is no slouch for the Packers, but Weatherford's performance this week gives him the nod here.
Passing Game: Advantage to the Packers
The Lambeau Leap
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Yes, I know the Giants have Victor Cruz, Mario Manningham and Hakeem Nicks, but the Packers trio of James Jones, Donald Driver and Greg Jennings are their equals.
Oh, but wait, the Packers also have Jordy Nelson with his 1,263 reception yards and 15 touchdowns. And then there is tight end Jermichael Finley with his 767 yards and eight touchdowns, clearly superior to whoever lines up at tight end for the Giants.
Aaron Rodgers and Eli Manning have both had great seasons, but the big difference is that out of 502 passes, Rodgers only threw six interceptions. On the other hand, Manning threw 16 interceptions out of 589 passes during the regular season.
Maybe it's happened, but I have never seen Rodgers get rattled and make a terrible decision. But we do see this happen from time to time with Manning.
A poor decision by Manning could lose the game for the Giants.
The status of Aaron Ross and Deon Grant is not clear yet for the game. If one or more of these Giant defensive backs are limited or don't play, this would swing the advantage even further towards the Packers.
Too Many Good Pass Receivers
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I've seen the spread for this game to be around eight points. That seems about right to me.
I think the Giants will hang in and keep the game from becoming a blowout, but in the final verdict, Aaron Rodgers just has too many good pass receivers.
I think the Packers' brain trust will have Rodgers doing a lot of shotgun formations and three-step drops to minimize the impact of the Giants' pass rush.
If they have to win the game with 10- and 15-yard passes and no bombs, they will do it.
Packers 30, Giants 21.