The Green Bay Packers face a do-or-die situation this Sunday against the also desperate New York Giants.
A win could put them ahead of New York in the wild-card race, and a loss could end one of the most unpleasant seasons in recent Packers history.
With a healthy Aaron Rodgers back in the lineup, Green Bay should have no troubles, right? Well, we'll have to wait that one out.
Still, with just two games standing in the way of a Packers playoff berth, every aspect of Green Bay's game-plan must be executed.
Here are my five bold predictions for Sunday's essential matchup.
If there's one thing we learned from Sunday night, it's that Matt Flynn is capable of running the offense. With that being said, the Packers lacked offensive discipline and experience from none other than Aaron Rodgers.
Flynn managed to handle the basic offense, but Rodgers' skill-set and clutch abilities are key to Green Bay's success.
However New York maintains one of the league's most potent pass defenses, only second to San Diego in passing yards allowed per game with 188.4. Sunday's game will be a critical diagnosis of how well recovered Rodgers is from his second concussion of the season.
Giants all-pro cornerbacks Corey Webster and Dion Grant have combined for seven interceptions this season, making Rodgers' performance only that much more vital to a Green Bay victory on Sunday.
Nevertheless, we're talking about Aaron Rodgers. Sunday should be a career game for Rodgers, and the entire Green Bay squad.
Matchup to watch: Aaron Rodgers vs. himself
It's quite obvious; Rodgers sustained a concussion two weeks ago, and now makes his first start since the injury transpired. If Rodgers can make the neccessary throws to Green Bay's plethora of receivers, the Packers will have success.
Brandon Jackson's 99-yard effort against New England Sunday night shed major light on the potential of Green Bay's running-attack. If that trend continues, Green Bay already has this game in the bag.
Realizing New England's defense has been somewhat lacking in comparison to the of New York's, the Packers might not be aware of what Justin Tuck and company have in store for them.
The Giants' 10th-ranked run defense is allowing 102.4 yards per game to the opposition. However that's all that Green Bay needs to get things rolling with Jackson.
New York has also allowed three runs of 40 yards or more this season — good enough to be in the bottom half of the entire league.
Along with contributions from John Kuhn and (hopefully) James Starks, Green Bay is more than capable of running the football with success Sunday afternoon.
Matchup to watch: Brandon Jackson vs. Terrell Thomas
Thomas leads New York in solo tackles with 68 so far this season, and with a rejuvinated and confident Packers run game looking to pound the football, Thomas will have a major say in how much success Green Bay has on the ground.
After the Giants let Michael Vick and the Eagles come back to win in stunning fashion last week, there is obviously some hangover from the epic debacle.
In that game, Eli Manning had an impressive outing: throwing for 289 yards, four touchdowns, and one interception. But when the New York offense needed him most, Manning caved in under the pressure — a trend we are use to seeing from Manning throughout his career.
All that pressure against the league's 21st-ranked pass defense? Better believe it.
Philadelphia's defense has given up 227.1 yards through the air per game this season, compared to Green Bay's 192.4 yards per game — establishing major contrast between the two.
When Charles Woodson and Tramon Williams step onto the field Sunday afternoon, Manning won't know what hit him.
The league's top cornerback tandem is ready for anything Manning has up his sleeve — and with wide receiver Steve Smith placed on IR for the remainder of the season, Eli will be over-targeting Hakeem Nicks and Mario Manningham.
I think Woodson and Williams can handle them.
Matchup to watch: Charles Woodson vs. Eli Manning
Manning has been known to fold in pressure situations, and Woodson is the perfect counter to those struggles. If Eli begins to doubt himself, the Packers are in for a huge day.
Shocking, I know.
The Packers' 2010 season has been formulated by many things — but none more than Green Bay's special teams blunders. Giving up a 73-yard kickoff return to a 313-pound offensive lineman was the lowest the Packers could have possibly sunk, leaving only room to go up from here.
Special teams has contributed to many of Green Bay's late-game losses, raising questions about special teams coach Shawn Slocum's job security.
I'm here to tell you that Slocum (although looking extremely guilty at the moment) is not the reason for Green Bay's epic special teams collapse.
The coach oversees the entirety of his players — that much I am aware of. But the players on the field are still responsible for their play (weather that be good or bad).
Matchup to watch: Green Bay kickoff team vs. New York return team
This one is a no-brainer. Obviously the Packers have questionable kickoff-personel, and New York (as much as any other team) is more than capable of taking the football to the house. Will the Packers rebound from last week's shameful display?
By no means is this prediction an easy one. But the fact remains that with Aaron Rodgers on the field, the Packers are the most potent offense through the air in the league.
New England was extremely fortunate to go up against Green Bay's back-up quarterback last Sunday night — despite the Packers having led multiple times during the contest.
New York's offense was igniting early on against the Eagles last week, only to be blown up by their lack of finishing ball games in the clutch. Sunday could be yet another prime example of that.
With the Packers facing playoff elimination against the Giants, Green Bay will surely come out firing on all cylinders.
Addition of the home-field advantage at Lambeau only amplifies what the Packers can do on the field, which is darn near anything given the fact Rodgers is back in the lineup.
Oh, and let's not forget about Rodgers' home record over the past nine games: 8-1. That's enough convincing for me.
With a win on Sunday, the Packers will have reignited their playoff hopes, all while proving to the rest of the nation why in fact they are a force to be reckoned with.
Prediction: Green Bay 24, New York 20