NFL Playoffs 2012: 5 Predictions for Green Bay Packers vs. New York Giants
The Green Bay Packers host the New York Giants in the biggest game at Lambeau Field since the infamous NFC Championship in 2007. After playing four playoff games on the round and the Super Bowl in the last two years, the Packers are back at the Frozen Tundra for the Divisional Round.
In their Week 13 matchup, the two teams battled right down to the wire with the Packers narrowly escaping. The Giants scored late to tie the game, but left too much time on the clock for Aaron Rodgers and Co. as they drove down the field for the game-winning field goal.
Since the loss, the Giants have turned the page and gotten hot quickly. They will ride into Wisconsin with full confidence expecting to take down the NFC's top seed.
The Giants are coming off the a dominating 24-2 Wild Card performance against the Atlanta Falcons. On the other hand, the Packers come off their bye with a healthy football team.
Aaron Rodgers Doesn't Miss a Beat
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When game time rolls around Sunday afternoon, Aaron Rodgers will have not taken a snap since the Packers took care of the Chicago Bears 35-21 on Christmas night. With so much time in between game action, the question will surely be asked: Will Rodgers be rusty and start the game slowly?
After missing a week last season due to a concussion, Rodgers came back with his finest performance against none other than the New York Giants in a 45-17 beat-down. Against the New Orleans Saints to start the season, Rodgers was spectacular from the get-go. Coming off the bye week this season, Rodgers shredded the San Diego Chargers defense for 247 yards and four touchdowns.
While some quarterbacks may suffer from rust after missing game action for a while, Rodgers does the opposite. For some reason, the time off does wonders for Rodgers.
Against the Giants, Rodgers and the offense won't miss a beat. His favorite target Greg Jennings will be back from his MCL sprain and the rest of the Packers weapons are good to go. In the past, when Rodgers has had extra time to rest and prepare, he has been deadly. He will be against the Giants.
Weather Isn't an Issue
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Playoff football in the middle of January in Green Bay, Wisc. It's going to be cold, but the weather won't have a huge impact on the outcome of the game. Throughout his time starting with the Packers, Rodgers has shown his ability to maintain his high level of play even when the weather worsens late in the year.
Much is always made about the impact of the weather and who benefits more from certain types of it. With these two teams playing, it won't matter. The Packers are going to throw the ball and proved they could do so effectively in a cold-weather game against the Detroit Lions with Matt Flynn tossing the rock.
Whichever teams come out victorious on Sunday Night will not have won because of the weather. They will have won because they executed and made more plays.
Giants Get to Rodgers
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The New York Giants have one of the most talented front-fours in the NFL, and their mission will be to knock the hell out of Aaron Rodgers as frequently as possible. The Packers' offensive line has been solid, especially with the shuffling late in the year, and kept Rodgers upright.
As healthy as they have been since opening day, the Packers offensive line faces a huge test from the Giants defense. The group is extremely talented and will find ways to get to Rodgers throughout the game.
One of Rodgers biggest assets is his ability to get outside the pocket and away from pressure. He will need to do this against the Giants with defenders barreling down. While the Giants will get to Rodgers at times, the Packers should be able to do enough on most downs to allow Rodgers time to work.
Ryan Grant Builds on His Success
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For those picking the Giants to win and those that say Green Bay isn't the favorite, their favorite flaw of the Packers is the lack of a running game. While Packers running backs total yardage numbers are far from jaw-dropping, they have fulfilled their duties when called upon.
Over the last four games Ryan Grant has emerged and shown flashes of his 2009 self. In those four games, Grant has scored three touchdowns and is averaging 60.8 yards per game on just 10.5 carries. An average of 5.8 yards per carry is far more than decent. It's even more impressive when you add the 40.5 receiving yards per game into the mix.
After missing the Packers playoff run last year, Grant is primed and ready to make up for the missed experience. Grant may not come close to the 201 yards he put up in his last home playoff game, but when he is called on Grant will be successful.
The Final Score
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While the rest of the media hypes up the Giants and their chances of pulling the upset, the reality is that the Packers are 15-1 and the better team. Yes, the Giants did in fact prove they can play with the Packers, but that doesn't mean they win the game.
Rodgers and the rest of the Packers offense will get theirs when they are on the the field. The question becomes will Eli Manning and the Giants do enough to keep up with the Packers? The answer is no. They have the ability to, but the Giants can't afford to be careless with the ball and the Packers defense is hungry to prove themselves.
The Packers defense has heard endlessly about their struggles throughout the season giving up yards and yards and more yards. They will come to play against the Giants and do what they do best—create turnovers.
When the lights leave the Frozen Tundra in the dark, the Packers will be scheduled to host the NFC Championship after beating the Giants.
Final Score: 34-24 Packers