Giants vs. Packers: Aaron Rodgers and Players With the Most to Lose

Eric BallFeatured ColumnistJanuary 15, 2012

KANSAS CITY, MO - DECEMBER 18:  Marshall Newhouse #74 of the Green Bay Packers picks up an Aaron Rodgers #12 fumble caused by Tamba Hali #91 of the Kansas City Chiefs during the game on December 18, 2011 at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
Jamie Squire/Getty Images

Nothing in sports is more dramatic than playoff football in the NFL.

The beauty of the NFL postseason is the single-elimination system that forces players to play their absolute best in one game or it’s all over.

Unlike the NBA, MLB or NHL, where you can have an off night in a seven-game series and still lead your team to a championship, football provides few chances. It’s now or never.

When the New York Giants and Green Bay Packers face off in the NFC Divisional Round, here are three legacies that can be severely damaged by not showing up on Sunday.

Aaron Rodgers, QB, Green Bay Packers

The Packers are as close to perfection as there is in the NFL today. One Super Bowl ring is great, but there are plenty of quarterbacks that share that accomplishment.

If Rodgers picks Sunday to have his worst game of the season, we’d all pump the breaks on how great of a quarterback he is. Rodgers would still be a ways off from the Brett Favre comparisons.

In a way, this entire season would be a waste without playoff success. All of the pressure is on Rodgers to ensure that doesn’t happen.

Victor Cruz, WR, New York Giants

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - JANUARY 01:  Victor Cruz #80 of the New York Giants goes up to make a catch against  Orlando Scandrick #32 of the Dallas Cowboys in the fourth quarter at MetLife Stadium on January 1, 2012 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  (Photo by A
Al Bello/Getty Images

From undrafted rookie to third in the NFL in receiving yards, Cruz was the fantasy pickup of the year. If Cruz is able to slice up the 32nd-ranked Packers pass defense, he will become a household name.

A poor performance, though, and Cruz will have to wait at least another year to achieve brand-name status. After only catching two passes for 28 yards against the Falcons, his ability to play at his best when it matters most would be strongly questioned with a second-straight poor performance.

Charles Woodson, CB, Green Bay Packers

Woodson has had quite the career since being drafted with the fourth overall pick in 1998. He has eight Pro Bowl appearances, a Rookie of the Year trophy and an AP Defensive Player of the year award.

Winning a second Super Bowl would officially cement Woodson as one of the greatest cornerbacks of the last 10-plus years.

If the Packers lose because of their horrific 32nd-ranked secondary, Woodson would take the brunt of the blame as the leader of the group. His tendency to gamble on interceptions would be brought up.

Woodson would be partly responsible for ruining a legendary season by his quarterback. 

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