Packers vs. Giants: New York's Keys to a Massive Upset over Green Bay

Richard Langford@@noontide34Correspondent IJanuary 15, 2012

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - DECEMBER 04:  James Starks #44 of the Green Bay Packers runs the ball against the New York Giants at MetLife Stadium on December 4, 2011 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  (Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images)
Chris Trotman/Getty Images

If the hard-charging New York Giants can accomplish the following game plan, they will upset the balance of playoff power. The Green Bay Packers have been the league's clear-cut best team this entire year—a year that they spent the majority of looking invincible. 

However, they are most certainly not invincible, and the Giants are capable of proving that beyond a shadow of a doubt. They simply have to do the following things. 


Bring the Heat on Aaron Rodgers

GREEN BAY, WI - DECEMBER 25: Aaron Rodgers #12 of the Green Bay Packers runs the ball and is tackled by Brian Urlacher #54 of the Chicago Bears on December 25, 2011 at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wisconsin.  (Photo by David Banks/Getty Images)
David Banks/Getty Images

The Packers offense is completely built around Aaron Rodgers. He is a poised and accurate QB that almost always makes the right read. If he has time, he will shred a defense. 

The best way to disrupt the Packers' prolific passing game is by not giving them time. This is something the Giants are well-equipped to, and must, do. 

New York finished the season ninth in sack percentage, and they were getting better at rushing the passer as the season progressed. Over their last three games, the Giants' sack percentage was just over 1.3 percent higher than it was for the season. 

Meanwhile, the Packers don't do that great a job of protecting the passer. They finished the season ranked 22nd in sacks allowed percentage. 

The Giants must rattle Aaron Rodgers and cannot allow him to get comfortable in the pocket. 


Establish a Ground Game

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - JANUARY 08:  Ahmad Bradshaw #44 of the New York Giants runs the ball against Thomas DeCoud #28 of the Atlanta Falcons during their NFC Wild Card Playoff game at MetLife Stadium on January 8, 2012 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  (Pho
Chris Trotman/Getty Images

The Giants spent most of the season struggling to run the ball. In their first 11 games they gained at least 100 yards on the ground just four times.

They've hit the century mark rushing in five of their last six games, and in their playoff victory over the Atlanta Falcons they had a season-high 172 yards rushing.

They need to establish that ground game in this one. This will benefit them in multiple ways. It will help them control the flow of the game, to wear out the Packers' defense while keeping their defense fresh. This will benefit them in the fourth quarter and help keep Aaron Rodgers from finding his groove.

It will also help keep the Packers' defense honest and leave things open for Eli Manning to strike in the passing game because ultimately that is going to be the key to their victory.


Eli Manning Must Protect the Ball

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - JANUARY 08:  Eli Manning #10 of the New York Giants gestures as he steps up to the line of scrimmage against the Atlanta Falcons during their NFC Wild Card Playoff game at MetLife Stadium on January 8, 2012 in East Rutherford, New Je
Al Bello/Getty Images

While it is going to be important for the Giants to get their ground game going, it is going to be their passing game that wins it for them.

Manning is going to have to be on top of his game. That means first and foremost he is going to have to protect the ball. He cannot throw any interceptions. The Packers' defense has been horrid this season.

They sit near the bottom of most statistical categories. The one area where they have excelled is in creating turnovers. They are second in the NFL at 2.4 turnovers created per game. At the heart of their turnover success is interceptions. They led the NFL with 1.9 interceptions per game.

If Manning can keep from throwing any costly picks, the Giants will be able to turn all their yards into points and can come out with a victory.