Packers vs. Giants: Previewing Green Bay's Season-Defining Matchup This Sunday
You'd think Christmas would be a time to rejoice for the folks in Green Bay.
The Packers have defeated Brett Favre twice this season, Mike McCarthy has a bundle of players who are Pro Bowl worthy, and the green and gold continue to excel under Aaron Rodgers and his passing brilliance.
That being said, all of these festive gifts can't possibly compare to the present the Packers may receive this Sunday against the New York Giants.
If it's the thought that counts, then the Green Bay Packers are certainly aware of this stipulations that await them this upcoming weekend.
With two weeks remaining in the regular season, Green Bay now return to Lambeau Field from an untimely loss in New England last week, that saw back up quarterback Matt Flynn show one giant flash of excellence in the ache of Aaron Rodgers' Week 14 concussion.
This time around however, it's a totally different kettle of fish.
Speaking of fish, the Giants are also experiencing that "stunned mullet" look, that the Packers are all too familiar with this season. Left standing and utterly disappointed last Sunday, New York felt the pain of witnessing a DeSean Jackson punt return for a touchdown, crushing Tom Coughlin's hopes of a first place NFC East ranking for the time being.
So what does that say about this weekends fixture?
To be blunt, a Giants win means they are in, and a Packers loss means they're out. As for the keys to the game for Green Bay, the Packers simply must rely on three important factors.
1. Utilize the Hurry Up Offense
If there's one thing that we learned whilst watching New York last week, it's that Perry Fewell's oriented defense struggles immensely when the pressure continues to mount.
Currently ranked 3rd in overall defense, the Giants found themselves in hot water last week when Michael Vick and the Eagles continued to pile on the points in forth quarter, after limiting Philadelphia to just 3 points, only to see it crash and burn in an eight minute forth quarter span.
What does this say for the Packers?
Utilize the hurry up offense.
This Sunday it will be vital for Aaron Rodgers and the suddenly revitalized Packer run game to avoid the likes of Justin Tuck and Usi Umenyiora on the Giants defensive line, who have so far combined for 20 overall sacks this season.
It will be a highly uncharacteristic move on the Packers part, but one that could catch the Giants out of place on several occasions, and also set up the rather quiet Greg Jennings for a touchdown.
2. Continue to Send Aaron Rodgers Out of the Pocket
This point may seem like an obvious no-brainer, but like every athlete who has just endured a concussion, expect Aaron Rodgers to feel a little hesitant when the time comes to roll out of the pocket and attempt his usual Usain Bolt like run play.
Fortunately for the Packers though, Rodgers isn't the type of player who allows fear to get the best of him.
Therefore, Mike McCarthy would be wise to send his star quarterback left or right of the pocket this Sunday, especially if the demolishing Jason Pierre-Paul is on his toes much like he has been in recent weeks.
Sixteen games into the year, Rodgers has ran for 309 yards and 4 touchdowns. These are favorable stats with two crucial weeks remaining, so if the Packers are to get back on the playoff horse, they must ignore the Giants hard hitting ways and allow Rodgers to take advantage of his pass/scrambling ability.
3. Don't Rely On the Defense
If there's one underrated criticism of the Packers this year, it would have to be on the defensive side, as Green Bay have become a little self reliant on Dom Capers 3-4 scheme in the past three to four weeks.
Those of you who are looking for an example of this new found defensive dependence, take a look back at last weeks game, that saw Green Bay fall completely flat in the dying stages of the forth quarter, and allow Tom Brady to march down the field with ease.
Sure, much of the Packers loss of real estate could be awarded to the humorous run styling of Dan Connolly, but at the end of the day the Packers missed several opportunities to intercept many of Brady's wobbly passing attempts.
This weekend, Aaron Rodgers needs to take control of the team, and take some of the pressure off of Clay Matthews and Charles Woodson. To add more fact to the matter, safety Nick Collins is hopeful to return on Sunday, yet it wouldn't be too wise to expect a big time performance.
Green Bay's defense has been downright decent all season long, but their forth quarter woes have cost them an arsenal of losses. The special teams unit could be blamed for giving up major field position, but the Packers mustn't allow another forth quarter stand at Lambeau Field on Sunday.
Twists and turns have struck the NFC North all year long, and if it wasn't Brett Favre's head injury last Monday night, it was the Chicago Bears winning the division with a victory over the Minnesota Vikings.
Still, the Packers will keep their hopes alive this weekend with a win over the confused New York Giants, even though the red face of Tom Coughlin is also seeking an invite to January football with a win over Green Bay.
It's a win-lose situation either way you look at it, but after last weekends heroics by Matt Flynn and the inspired Packer run game, you have to like Green Bay's chances at home in front of a sold out crowd.
The Packers haven't played New York since their famous NFC Championship Game back in 2007, that saw Brett Favre throw a devastating overtime interception in the cold confines of Lambeau Field, to ultimately send the Packers on their way.
Outlasting the Brett Favre shadow has already been accomplished by Green Bay, but exorcising some lingering demons would be fitting with just one week remaining in the regular season.
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