NFL Playoff Picks: Why New York Giants Will Give Green Bay Packers Trouble

Andrew McCluskeyCorrespondent IJanuary 11, 2012

NFL Playoff Picks: Why New York Giants Will Give Green Bay Packers Trouble

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    Sunday afternoon, the New York Giants will head to Lambeau Field to take on the Green Bay Packers for the chance to go to the NFC championship.

    The game will be a rematch of their Week 13 showdown, where the Packers were able to squeak out a 38-35 victory thanks to a last-second field goal by kicker Mason Crosby. Green Bay was undefeated at the time, and the Giants played them the toughest anyone had up until that point.

    The Giants had tied the game at 35 with just 58 seconds left to go, but that was far too much time for Aaron Rodgers to drive the Packers down the field to put them in position for the game-winning kick.

    New York still played a great game and could have easily won if they had been able to limit their turnovers. An interception returned for a touchdown by Clay Matthews was one of the crucial turning points of the game. 

    The Giants will get the chance for revenge on the Packers this Sunday. They are one of the few teams built to take them out.

    Here are five reasons why the Giants will give Green Bay trouble this weekend:

     

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Eli Manning Is Playing at an Elite Level

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    Eli Manning is heading in to this matchup with the Packers coming off of two of his best performances all year.

    Week 17 against the Dallas Cowboys, Manning had a huge game to help his Giants win the NFC East. Manning went off for 346 yards and three touchdowns. He followed up that performance with a 277 yard, three-touchdown game in the first round of the playoffs against the Atlanta Falcons.

    The Green Bay Packers have the worst passing defense of those three teams. 

    I expect Manning to put up another big performance on a Packers' secondary that was ranked dead last in passing defense at the end of the year. 

    Eli may not always be the most consistent quarterback in the NFL, but when he is on top of his game, he plays at an elite level.

Jason Pierre-Paul

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    Jason Pierre-Paul has emerged as the dominant pass rusher for the New York Giants this season.

    Pierre-Paul led the team with 16.5 sacks over the course of the regular season and will look to have the same impact in the postseason. 

    A pass rusher like Pierre-Paul will require multiple blockers and will free up space for other rushers like Justin Tuck. We've seen in the past that one of the best ways to stop an elite passing game is to get pressure on the quarterback. It doesn't matter how good your quarterback is, they can't complete passes from their back.

    Pierre-Paul had a relatively quiet game in the first round of the playoffs against the Atlanta Falcons, so you can be sure he'll be looking to chase Aaron Rodgers all over the field come Sunday.

The Entire Defense Is Playing Well

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    The Giants certainly weren't one of the top-ranked defensive units this season, but they got hot at just the right time.

    In their past three games, they are only allowing an average of 10 points per game.

    None of the offenses they have faced will be as good as the one they will take on against the Packers, but it says a lot about their current level of play. If the Giants' defense can continue to impact the game the way they have, they may be able to slow Rodgers and company down enough to make this one close.

    The Giants have a great defensive line and some very tough linebackers. They won't be afraid to send some pressure after Aaron Rodgers, especially because they know that Green Bay will rely on their passing game to win this one. 

    If the secondary can contain the big plays, the Giants' defense could make Sunday a long day for the Packers' offense.

Hakeem Nicks

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    Hakeem Nicks gave the Packers' secondary all they could handle the last time these two teams met.

    Nicks snagged seven receptions for 88 yards and two touchdowns. Even with the Packers' best cornerback (Charles Woodson) on him, Nicks was able to have a huge impact on the game.

    He started his postseason off the right way with a huge performance against the Atlanta Falcons. He went for 115 yards and two touchdowns off of just six receptions. Nicks is one of Eli Manning's favorite targets, and you can be sure Manning will be looking his way again this weekend.

    Nicks is a big, physical receiver who is dangerous anywhere on the field, but particularly in the red zone. He does a great job of using his size to box out corner backs and make catches in the end zone.

    He isn't the Giants' only receiving threat, but he is certainly the one they will have to pay close attention to.

New York's Rushing Attack

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    They have flip-flopped as the starter and often battled for carries, but Brandon Jacobs and Ahmad Bradshaw make up one dangerous rushing attack.

    They were on full display last weekend against the Falcons, when they both carried the ball 14 times each and combined for 155 rushing yards on the ground. Neither found the end zone, but their impact on the game was still evident.

    In the first meeting with the Packers, they were responsible for 97 yards on the ground—along with one touchdown by Brandon Jacobs. Depending on the way this game goes, I see these backs getting their fair share of carries early on in the game.

    One of the other ways to stop an elite passing offense is by keeping them off the field.

    The Giants can use their two-headed monster at running back to control the pace of the game and keep Aaron Rodgers firmly planted on the bench. They will need to be sure that they are still putting points on the board, but anytime Rodgers isn't on the field your chances of winning dramatically increase.

    There is no predicting which back will be the most effective, but you can be sure that they will both get a load of carries.