5 New York Giants Who Need to Step Up Against the Green Bay Packers
The Green Bay Packers aren't unbeatable. They are undoubtedly the best team in the league and they haven't been beaten yet, but they aren't unbeatable. The Giants are facing them on Sunday and winning will be no small task, but the playoffs may be on the line here for New York, so they will have to come up with something.
Every player will have to play his absolute best against Green Bay for New York to have a shot, but there are several key players who the Giants will need to rely on for big performances. This slideshow counts down the top five Giants who need to step up on Sunday.
Patrick McDermott/Getty Images
Victor Cruz is not only one of the surprises of the 2011 season, but he is also one of the league's most dangerous receivers. Though he has been known to drop some easy balls, Cruz can consistently make huge plays with the football. This will be extremely important for New York on Sunday.
Cruz is most dangerous after the catch, but he will first have to focus on completing the catch with players like Clay Matthews prowling around. Even if he has to go down as soon as the ball hits his hands, it will be crucial for Cruz, and the receivers in general, to hold onto the football.
Cruz will also be paired against either Tramon Williams or Charles Woodson, meaning he will have to come ready to play and give it his all the entire game. In what will surely be a shootout, Eli Manning will be looking to Cruz to come up with the big play, and Cruz must deliver.
Cruz is blossoming into a star in the NFL, but possibly his biggest test this season will be trying to help carry his team to victory against the Green Bay Packers. The Giants will be relying on Cruz to get things done on offense.
Chris Trotman/Getty Images
Giants fans must be breathing a sigh of relief that Ahmad Bradshaw is eying a return against the Green Bay Packers. Brandon Jacobs is not playing like he deserves to wear a Giants uniform, and without Bradshaw in the backfield the Giants wouldn't have much of a chance against Green Bay.
Bradshaw has missed the last few weeks because of injuries, but the Giants will be counting on him to get things going in the ground game on Sunday. The Giants have one of the worst running games in the league without Bradshaw, and he can also catch out of the backfield a lot better than D.J. Ware and Jacobs.
Although both teams are sure to rely on the passing game most of the time, the Giants will need to show the Pack that they can get things going on the ground with Bradshaw. Without a solid ground game, it will be hard for the Giants to get a good passing attack going.
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images
This goes without saying. Eli Manning is undoubtedly New York's leader, and he has practically carried the Giants on his back throughout the 2011 season. Manning has played well week after week this year, and the Giants need him to come up big again on Sunday.
The Packers seem intimidating and can boast one of the league's better defenses, but they are also 31st in yards allowed against the pass this year. Manning is in a great position to throw for 300-400 yards against Green Bay, and he needs to take advantage of his situation.
The Packers are averaging almost 35 points a game, and if the Giants can't get a strong passing attack going they will be left in the dust. The Giants will need to come ready to light up the scoreboard, and that will have to be a result of success in the passing game.
Manning has been able to outplay offensive juggernauts before during his career and he led the Giants to an improbable win over the Patriots earlier this year, but this will be his greatest challenge yet. Manning will need to be a leader on Sunday and will have a huge impact on the result of the game, good or bad.
Al Bello/Getty Images
If Aaron Rodgers starts getting into a rhythm in the passing game, the Giants are screwed. He will pick apart the defense. Jason Pierre-Paul can't let that happen.
Pierre-Paul is an incredible athlete who has 10.5 sacks this year, which is third among defensive ends. He has the power to disrupt the offensive line and potentially stop the run or attack Rodgers in the passing game.
Though Rodgers can make plays with his feet and avoid the pass rush, Pierre-Paul is uncommonly fast for a defensive end and he will be able to keep up with Rodgers. If he plays his hardest, he could make it a long day for the star QB.
With Justin Tuck struggling and Osi Umenyiora out, Pierre-Paul will be relied on even more heavily to make plays on the line, and he will have to deliver. He is the only player on the roster who is playing like an elite pass rusher, and his presence could make all the difference in this game.
The Entire Giants Secondary
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images
The Giants are 26th in the league in yards allowed against the pass, but they will have to do better than that against a player like Aaron Rodgers. He is going to be the most important player in the game on Sunday and the Giants secondary will need to be ready to take him on.
Corey Webster is playing like a shutdown corner this year, but his skills will be tested against Greg Jennings. Aaron Ross, meanwhile, is very inconsistent and Rodgers will most likely be looking in the direction of Jordy Nelson more often.
Luckily, the Giants also have Deon Grant, Prince Amukamara, Kenny Phillips and Antrel Rolle, who are all solid defensive backs. But if they can't all play tight coverage and stay on their assignments, Rodgers will easily be able to throw for over 400 yards.
The Giants vs. Packers game is shaping up to be quite a shootout, but it is still up to the Giants secondary to stop Rodgers and the Packers from taking over the game. It will be their biggest test of the season, but if the secondary can step up and make plays in the passing game, it will be a much easier game for the Giants.