Giants vs. Packers: Giants D-Line Crucial vs. Aaron Rodgers and Packers

Ryan RudnanskySenior Writer IJanuary 13, 2012

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - JANUARY 01:  Jason Pierre-Paul #90 of the New York Giants reacts after a sack in the first quarter against the Dallas Cowboys at MetLife Stadium on January 1, 2012 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images)
Rich Schultz/Getty Images

There's been a lot of talk regarding whether Eli Manning can match Aaron Rodgers point for point in the New York Giants' divisional-round matchup against the Green Bay Packers on Sunday.

But Manning isn't the X-factor...the Giants' defensive line is.

Let's be honest, if you don't pressure Rodgers, you are setting yourself up for disaster. He's thrown for 4,643 yards and 45 touchdowns to six interceptions this season, completing 68 percent of his passes. Under his guidance, the Packers averaged 35.0 points per game in the regular season, most in the NFL.

One thing the Kansas City Chiefs did well in their 19-14 upset of the Packers in Week 15 was pressure Rodgers. They sacked him four times, and he went 17-of-35 for 235 yards and one touchdown...which is basically a horrible game for him.

One of the Giants' biggest strengths this season has been their pass rush. Despite not having a very good secondary, they've been able to limit opponents—like the Atlanta Falcons in the Wild Card Round—by creating constant pressure on the quarterback. They had 48 sacks in the regular season (tied for second-most), and it's no wonder why, with defensive ends like Justin Tuck, Jason Pierre-Paul and Osi Umenyiora.

That kind of pass rush, which has been rolling in recent weeks, cannot only limit a team's overall yardage, it can stop drives cold in the red zone, which will be pivotal against the Packers' high-octane attack. If the Giants start holding the Packers to field goals, they have a legitimate shot of ousting the Packers from the playoffs.

That being said, I don't see it happening, particularly because this game will be played at Lambeau Field, where the Packers went 8-0 this season. In fact, the Packers haven't lost at home since Week 6 of last season.

But if the Giants are to beat the Packers, it starts with the defensive line. Not Eli Manning.

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