Rematch at Lambeau: Giants at Packers in NFC Divisional
By Brian E Murphy, Packers Insider senior editor
~Eli Manning’s Giants will make his second career playoff start in Green Bay next Sunday, trying to go 2-0 and send the Packers into hibernation as he did four years ago against Brett Favre and those Packers in the NFC Championship game.
Packer fans still have emotional scars from that game, and frostbite perhaps if they were at that game.
The Giants are very similar today as they were then, except they are better now at wide reciever with Hakeem Nicks and Victor Cruz as the best duo the Packers defense will face.
Back in week 13, Nicks scored on both Charles Woodson and Sam Shields. Victor Cruz played at an All-Pro level the last half ot the season, and number three wide receiver Mario Manningham showed his skills with a touchdown against Atlanta in this weekend’s Wildcard game.
The Giants have a big bruiser at runningback in Brandon Jacobs. He’s hurt the Packers time and time again, and is similar to Tampa Bay’s LeGarrette Blount, who rambled for over 100 yards and a TD on this soft Packers defense back in November.
Ahmad Bradshaw hurt the Packers in the 2008 championship game with a back-breaking touchdown, and he’s as dangerous today as he was then. He’s also a good receiver out of the backfield, in the Darren Sproles mode. He’s not quite as quick as Sproles is (nobody is), but he’s stronger. He breaks weak tackle attempts by defensive backs.
And then there’s Eli.
He’s definitely clutch, with 15 fourth quarter touchdown passes this season, which set an all-time NFL record. He’s won a Super Bowl. He’s won a playoff game in Lambeau Field, in the coldest of cold weather. You could not ask for a better offense than what the Giants possess, other than maybe a better right tackle. Clay Matthews will need to have a big game in order to keep Eli from carving up the Packers secondary.
On defense, the Giants boast the best defensive line in the NFL, including the Lions.
They didn’t have a healthy Osi Umenyiora back in week 13, but DE Jason Pierre-Paul applied constant pressure on Rodgers, going around Marshall Newhouse all day long.
There’s also Justin Tuck, who’s their version of Cullen Jenkins. He’s a beast and can put pressure up the middle. Chris Canty is another talent on the defensive line. He was a high-priced free agent purchase away from their division rival Dallas a few years ago.
Their linebackers are okay, and their defensive backs are okay. They’re not the best, but they’re capable.
At safety, they do have Antrell Rolle, who has seen Rodgers carve him up twice before, once as an Arizona Cardinal in the 2009 wildcard game in which Rodgers put up 45 on them, and the matchup this year that the Packers won 38-35.
There is some talent back there, and Jason Webster is still there. He’s the guy who picked off the gunslinger in overtime four years ago, ending the Packers season right on the brink of a Super Bowl.
Make no mistake about it. The Packers cannot show up with their ‘B’ or ‘C’ game for this one and come out with a win.
One good thing for the Packers: #4 is not going to be throwing the game’s final pass for the Packers.