NFL Game of the Week Divisional Round: Giants at Packers

GREEN BAY WI - FEBRUARY 08: Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers hoists the Lombardi Trophy during the Packers victory ceremony at Lambeau Field on February 8 2011 in Green Bay Wisconsin. (Photo by Matt Ludtke/Getty Images)

New York Giants(10-7) at Green Bay Packers(15-1) (Sun. Jan. 15th, 2012 @ 4:30pm(EST.)

Stars Watch:
(New York): QB Eli Manning -
Eli had a great game against the Packers in their week 13 regular season match throwing for 347 yards and 3 tds in a 38-35 loss. The Packers won that game because they had the ball last. Manning and crew will be looking to avenge that loss and advance to the NFC Conference Championship. He will be facing once again a secondary that has given up big passing plays all year.

(Green Bay): QB Aaron Rodgers - He led the game winning drive against the Giants in week 13. Like Manning he also had a great game throwing for 369 yards and 4 tds. Rodgers will be facing a secondary who has improved their play lately, but still are suspect to giving up the big pass play. Rodgers should have another big game and he should be getting some key players back from injuries like WR Greg Jennings.

Green Bay Offense vs. New York Defense: Green Bay has probably this year's MVP in QB Aaron Rodgers who has performed sensational all year. The Packers have been without some key starters on offense because of various injuries. They should get a boost with the return of Tackles Chad Clifton and Bryan Bulaga plus WR Greg Jennings who has missed the last couple games. New York will try to counter the high octane Packers offense with a fierce pass rush. The Giants have the best collection of pass rushers on one team. DE Jason Pierre-Paul , DE Justin Tuck, DE Osi Umenyiora, and OLB Mathias Kiwanuka can bring the heat against any offensive line with their athleticism and flexibilty. The Giants secondary has plenty of talented playmakers as well such as CB Corey Webster and CB Aaron Ross. Safeties Kenny Phillips and Antrell Rolle are former 1st round selections and patrol the deep middle and deep sidelines. New York will try to force Aaron Rodgers into hurried throws and hopefully get some turnovers.

Green Bay Defense vs. New York Offense: The Packers defense has some big time playmakers, but as a unit they have underachieved in 2011. NT B.J. Raji anchors the run defense inside and must be double teamed by the opposing offensive line to be successful at running the ball. OLB Clay Matthews also must be accounted for on every snap because of his game changing plays that he can produce. He only has 6 sacks for the season, but he has created turnovers by forcing 3 fumbles and intercepting 3 passes. CB Charles Woodson is the veteran leader of the secondary and the defense. Woodson like Matthews makes game changing plays for his team in key situations he had 7 ints on the season. The Giants offense is led by QB Eli Manning who is having one of his best year's. Eli has brought the Giants from behind in games numerous times for wins. The last time he faced the Packers he had a great game. WR Victor Cruz ans WR Hakeem Nicks also had great games in the week 13 meeting between the teams. Manning looks for these two whenever a big play is needed. The return of RB Ahmad Bradshaw from injury has given the team a dimension that had been missing. He helps not only in the running game but also in the passing game giving Manning another viable weapon to exploit.

Key Matchups:
LT Chad Clifton and RT Bryan Bulaga (versus) DE Jason Pierre-Paul and DE Osi Umenyiora:
The Packers tackles have missed the last few games with various injuries. They both should be in the starting lineup for this game and will be welcomed back just in time to face the fierce pass rush of the New York Giants. Green Bay's backups have done a good job, but the experience and talents of Clifton and Bulaga will be needed to keep QB Aaron Rodgers upright against the Giants. Jason Pierre-Paul leads the Giants team with 16.5 sacks but what is more impressive is he also has 86 tackles as a defensive end. He is versatile and has tremendous athleticism which he uses to play the defensive end position or sometimes shift inside at defensive tackle. Osi Umenyiora has battled some injuries throughout the season, but is still capable of putting pressure on the QB.

Green Bay Linebackers (versus) RB Ahmad Bradshaw: Green Bay's linebackers as a unit will have to contain Ahmad Bradshaw. A.J. Hawk, Frank Zombo, and Erik Walden will probably be the primary guys assigned to Bradshaw on passing downs. Bradshaw gives the Giants an element on offense they have been missing for several weeks because of an injury that kept him on the sidelines. He is very good in the screen game and that could play into the Giants favor because the Packers like to pressure the QB with multiple blitzes. Packers' linebackers will need to stay focus and play assignment football, if not Bradshaw could have a big day in the passing game. He is also dangerous running routes coming out of the backfield and is a great compliment to the power style running game of his teammate Brandon Jacobs.

Final Word: This game could be just as exciting as their week 13 regular season meeting, won by Green Bay 38-35. The Packers will be playing with plenty of emotions and heavy hearts after the unexpected death of offensive coordinator Joe Philbin's son earlier this week. The Packers would love to give a performance against the Giants the way they did last year when New York came to town which turned out to be a 45-17 Packers win. This will be the first playoff game at Lambeau field since 2007 when the Giants won 23-20 in overtime for the NFC Championship. The game will probably be decided by which QB makes the big plays down the stretch. Aaron Rodgers has had a MVP type season and Eli Manning has been the king of the fourth quarter comebacks. The old saying is, "Defense wins Championships", but now a days it should be "Defense gives you a chance to win, but Offense wins the game." These two teams are capable of scoring points in bunches and it very well may come down to who has the ball last.

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