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NFL Week 16 Predictions: New York Giants Fight to Clinch Playoff Spot

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NFL Week 16 Predictions: New York Giants Fight to Clinch Playoff Spot
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The Giants need a win Sunday to lock in a playoff spot and to rebuild their waning confidence after their 28-point collapse at home last week.

While the New York Giants' recent meltdown against the Philadelphia Eagles won't soon be forgotten, the team (and its fan base) needs to adopt a cornerback mentality in reference to Sunday's debacle, and move past their historic collapse. 

Instead of dwelling on the past, Tom Coughlin has the Giants looking to clinch the fifth playoff appearance of his coaching tenure in New York with a win over the always-dangerous Green Bay Packers

With most of the core of the 2007 championship team still populating the roster on this year's Giants squad, there should be little question about this team's heart and desire moving forward. Stalwarts like Eli Manning and Justin Tuck represent the type of winning attitude that has been forged over Coughlin's reign in New York. 

Lambeau Field once again provides the Giants a platform to capture success (see the '07 NFC Championship Game), but the return of Aaron Rodgers could throw a wrench in New York's playoff plans. 

Playing with Matt Flynn under center in Rodgers' absence last week, Green Bay gave the Patriots, a member of the NFL's elite, all they could handle on Sunday night. New England needed another Brady fourth quarter-comeback (and Dan Connolly's 71-yard rumble) to ensure victory against the short-handed, yet gritty Packers squad.

Rodgers' recovery from a concussion should only enhance a Packers' offense that featured a good balance between the run and the pass Sunday. Although Flynn did hit James Jones on a 66-yard touchdown early in the game, Rodgers brings big-play ability to an aerial attack that features five talented receivers, lead by Greg Jennings and his 12 receiving TDs this season.

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For the Giants to succeed, they need to force the Packers to be a one-dimensional passing team and attack Rodgers just like they did Mike Vick last Sunday (at least for 52 minutes). Look for rookie Jason Pierre-Paul, who has emerged as a force along the line of scrimmage, and the rest of the Giants' defensive line to have a field day against a shoddy Green Bay offensive front that has given up 17 sacks in the five games since their Week 10 bye.

On the other side of the ball, Eli Manning is sure to see pressure from NFC sack leader Cay Matthews and Co., but the Giants' offensive line has done a good job protecting the quarterback despite a plethora of injuries this year.

Ahmad Bradshaw and Brandon Jacobs should rebound from a sub-par performance last week against Philly, as they face Green Bay's lackluster rush defense in a game that should be greatly affected by inclement weather, always a favorite of the run-oriented Giants. 

It seems that the Giants are their own worst enemies this season and for them to have any success this week and beyond, they cannot continually beat themselves with turnovers and mental mistakes. 

Beating the Packers Sunday would not only put the G-Men in the playoffs, but it would go along way in erasing the sting brought on by "The Nightmare at the Meadowlands" last week. 

Jesse Paguaga is a Featured Columnist for the New York Giants on Bleacher Report. He is a regular contributor to Baseball Digest in the BD Baseball Fantasy Department. Jesse writes for Gotham Baseball, along with Gotham Hoops, Gotham Gridiron, and The Jerry Magwire Blog (http://thejerrymagwire.wordpress.com/).  He can be reached at Paguaga@usc.edu or can be found on Facebook and on Twitter http://twitter.com/#!/@jpags77. 

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