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Packers vs. Giants: How It Breaks Down

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Packers vs. Giants: How It Breaks Down

When The Packers Have the Ball:

Mike McCarthy will do everything he can to keep the offense on schedule this week. The one matchup that favors the Giants when the Packers offense is on the field is their defensive line against the Packers' offensive line. McCarthy can negate that that advantage by keeping his offense "ahead of the sticks", meaning shorter down and distances on 2nd and 3rd downs. Too many 3rd and longs play into the Giants ability to rush with four and drop seven into coverage.

Bryan Bulaga in particular will be worth watching as he faces off against the Giants talented defensive end Justin Tuck. Last year, Tuck made life miserable for Bulaga and had Aaron Rodgers running and moving out of the pocket much faster than he wanted to.

Bulaga has improved greatly since last year's showdown, but he is coming off a very sub-standard performance in Detroit where he struggled mightily with speed off the edge, something Tuck possesses in spades. The key for Bulaga will be to keep his balance centered and not get out over his feet. Too many times last year, Bulaga was left lunging at Tuck.

It's interesting going back and watching last years matchup in Lambeau. Giants defensive coordinator Perry Fewell did a good job early in the game of mixing up his pressure looks on early downs, having his linebackers drop outside from the middle at the last second, trying to confuse Aaron Rodgers' reads. It wasn't always successful, but it did keep the Packers off-balance.

Fewell made headlines this week with a lively question and answer session with the New York media Thursday afternoon, where he said the following:

We look forward to the opportunity to play these guys. That’s my confidence level. We’re going to show up and we’re going to play on Sunday. More so than discipline, we just have to get after his ass, okay? And if we do that and he scrambles, then that’s the price he’s going to have to pay because we’re going to hit him. We’re going to hit him.

McCarthy will obviously be alerting the refs to Fewell's words prior to Sunday's game. He is coming off a game where his quarterback took two blatant cheap shots that went uncalled, one when Rodgers had thrown the ball while outside the pocket and one after he had fumbled and the ball had been recovered. The Packers can expect more and more of this as the year goes on - teams know the only real chance they have in stopping the Packers offense is to somehow effect Rodgers, either by injury or by throwing him off his game with these cheap shots.

That's not to say Fewell and the Giants will play the way the Lions did. Unlike the Lions, the Giants have a first class head coach and are a first rate organization. But coming off the humiliation they faced in front of a national television audience on Monday night down in New Orleans, you can bet they will be fired up to atone in front of their hometown crowd.

One weapon the Giants did not have to account for when the two teams faced last year was Packers tight end Jermichael Finley. Once again, look for Finley to stress the linebackers and safeties of the opponent. His recent spate of drops are disconcerting, but he remains a singular talent that is a matchup nightmare for any defense. Splitting him out wide on Sunday, running him up the seam - really any look the Packers give the Giants with Finley will be tough for the Giants to handle. Need proof? Look no further than this past Monday night and the Giants complete inability to handle Saints tight end Jimmy Graham. Expect more of the same from their attempts to cover Finley.

When The Giants Have The Ball:

The Giants are expecting Ahmad Bradshaw to play after the running back missed the last several weeks, and this is probably the best news Giants fans could want to hear heading into Sunday. Without Bradshaw, the Giants offense has been severely limited and one dimensional. Quarterback Eli Manning works best when he has a running game working that enables him to get into a rhythm in the play-action game. The past few weeks he's had to rely on Brandon Jacobs' three yards a carry to keep defenses honest and that just hasn't worked. Bradshaw's presence will open up a lot more playbook for Manning and offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride to work with.

The Packers will be without both of their starting middle linebackers, A. J. Hawk and Desmond Bishop. In their place, both making their first professional starts, will be D.J. Smith and Robert Francois. Packers defensive coordinator Dom Capers didn't seem to limit his playcalls last Thursday when Bishop and Hawk went down, so its a good bet the Packers will be running most of their usual stuff. One thing to watch will be how Gilbride tries to go after Smith and Francois. Both seemed assignment sure on Thursday, but the Lions had some success running delays and counter action through the middle of the line and getting some bigger bodies to the second level. The Giants would love nothing more than to run right at the Packers, but to do so they'll need guards Chris Snee (who has admittedly been battling through several injuries) and Kevin Boothe to play much better than they did on Monday night.

On the perimeter, expect the Packers to keep Sam Sheilds and Tramon Williams on their respective sides and rather than the personnel-specific matchups we saw last week against the Lions. While not boasting a Calvin Johnson-type talent in their receiving corps, the Giants do have a deep and talented wide receiving corps, albeit one that has been hit by injuries lately. (Mario Manningham is Out for Sunday's game with a knee injury)

Enough Already, Who Wins?

Some national and local media members - and even some Packers fans - seem to think this is the game where the Packers winning streak and undefeated season comes to an end. I understand the thinking - the Giants are at home, coming off an absolute stinker of a game, and are getting close to desperation time in regards to the playoff race. Tom Coughlin is in full-on "Circle the Wagons" mode and they have the talent up front on defense to get after Aaron Rodgers, which is the one thing the team that will bump off the Packers needs to do.

But as persuasive as that all is, it doesn't account for the talent the Packers will be rolling out play after play on offense. It doesn't account for a defense that had absolutely no answers for the Saints' playmakers last week. I don't see them magically finding an approach that enables them to cover the likes of Greg Jennings, Jordy Nelson, James Jones and, yes, Jermichael Finley. Unless the Giants' plan is to clone Corey Webster to play each position in the secondary, they simply can't keep up on defense.

On offense, I think the Giants will be able to move the ball and score against the Packers defense - until the second half when the Packers start to pull away and the Giants are forced to go to the air exclusively. Once that happens, I think either Charles Woodson or Tramon Williams will force a turnover by way of an interception that gives the Packers another possession and thereby more points.

The Giants simply won't be able to keep up.

Packers: 38

Giants: 24

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (29) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

CSS's picture

I feel the tempo of this game is really going to come down to what kind of interior pressure the Giants can generate against Lang, Wells D-S without blitzing. Even if Bulaga neutralizes Tuck (and I don't believe he has an issue with speed rushers) Rodgers will only have so much time to sit at the end of his drop against the Giants. Brees killed it because he had a pocket to step into.

calipackfan's picture

Packers gonna roll over the giants, the New York media just wants to make its team look like a savior that will bring down the real giants of football.

cow42's picture

i don't quite understand the philosophy of doubling finley. to me it's like blitzing rodgers... the theory is good but it obviously doesn't work. jordy and greg have been killing teams. if i were a d coordinator i would try to take away those 2 and see if the packers can win with finley as the guy being single covered. with the drops he's had, i'd take my chances there... find out if he's mentally tough enough to carry the load for a full game.

the giants kind of seem like packers-lite to me. a less talented version of a team that can't/doesn't run, throws the ball to multiple receivers, is supposed to be good at rushing the passer... but really isn't, and has a back end that will give up passing yards.

the difference is that the best offensive player on the field will be a packer - rodgers, and the best defensive player on the field will be a packer - mathews.

CSS's picture

They double Finley because he's a physical mismatch on every level for a safety, CB or LB to cover. You're assuming they shouldn't because of what you probably deem a lack of all-star productivity from Finley. You would be mistaken. Rodgers exploits the match-up when the opposition makes that mistake, they rarely do.

Defensive coordinators are picking their poison, and hoping their nickle corner can cover Nelson or Jones. More often than not, they can't.

cow42's picture

i get the whole 'mismatch' thing. i guess i just feel that nelson and/or jennings are better than finley... or at least have proven to be this season.

by your reasoning it's better to double finley and open up coverage on jordy or jennings... that theory has allowed the packers to score over 30 per game. so it's your belief that doubling jordy and/or jennings, and leaving finley in single coverage would result in even more points being scored by the packers.

you could be right. i'm not so sure i agree, though. i'm not as high on finley as most people. in my opinion he hasn't proven to be a consistent threat.

by the way - if by 'all-star' you mean pro bowl and/or all-pro... i'd have to disagree.

davis, graham, gonzales have all been more productive.

CSS's picture

You define far too much by stats, cow. Feels like it defines your view of both players and the game. Its been the driving force behind almost all your arguments since posting here. You're missing out.

cow42's picture

i'm not missing anything.

my opinion is that finley has not yet proven to be as good as he's made out to be. your opinion is that he has.

our opinions differ.

doesn't mean you are right and i am wrong.

please stop talking down to me.

CSS's picture

I said Finley was talented, didn't say a thing about his performance this year, did I?

And I'm not " putting you down", but I am accurately pointing out you've based your opinions entirety on stats the entire year. It's near sighted, that's not an insult.

redlights's picture

I think I get what cow is actually saying: stopping Finley hasn't beat the Pack yet. So why not try letting Finley go with single coverage, and take a chance that he drops numerous balls and the WR's stay shut down. Our opponents can't lose any more games than they already have.

Tarynfor 12's picture

Mismatch is the operative word with Finley.
I don't see Finley as the Gracing Savior of the WRs,but the WRs as the Saving Grace of Finley.

Bob's picture

Finley can't hold onto the football and lives off the hype of his talent.

Looked real good in Detroit, 2nd and 3 and he runs a route short of the first down marker, drops the football and gets flatened by a man 30 lbs lighter. Follows that up with a ball right through his hands on 3rd down. He's been doing this all year, probably has almost as many drops as catches.

Tommyboy's picture

If you were a d-coordinator and could successfully neutralize Nelson and Jennings, you'd be a good d-coordinator. Or, you could put all your eggs in that basket and leave 5 or 6 in the box. The Packers, although not a great running team, would eat that up. We could still run Finley, Jones, Driver, and Cobb out there and mess with each team's Jarrett Bush.

I just think the Packers outmatch the Giants. If the Pack loses, it's because they beat themselves or the Giants play one amazing game.

Oppy's picture

Finley has had too many drops this season, that I will not argue.

However, it's disconcerting that his drops this season have led some fans to question his hands.

Simply put, Finley has the best hands on the team. I know, I know, if that's the case, explain the drops.. I can't, except to say his drops are an anomaly this season.

In Finley's time with the Packers, he has made amazing catches look routine on a regular basis. I have to think that he is letting the contract year mess with his concentration this season.. But please, don't question Finley's hands.

Just realized I accidentally replied to Tommyboy, didn't mean to.. :)

PackersRS's picture

May be nitpicking (or flat out wrong), but I would say that Finley has the best body control on the team, not necessarily the best hands...

Regarding his impact, it's no coincidence that the offense with him both this year (34.7) and in 09 (28.8) averaged more points than last year without him (24.2).

Ct Sharpe Cheddar's picture

Look for me in section 143 row 5 on the goaline just left of the Packer bench.The Giant defence can't stop a nosebleed.Like Bart Scott said :
"Can't Wait"

Jason Mercier's picture

Did you write this two weeks ago? Giants 'D' Line is missing people and their Offense is sputtering and without Bradshaw or Nicks. I think the presence of two fresh, hungry LB's will improve the Defense. I think you are WAY off base with most of your analysis this week. 31-20 Pack so we are on the same page just a different way of getting there...

packeraaron's picture

Both Bradshaw and Nicks will play this week. Cheers.

Ct Sharpe Cheddar's picture

Bradshw is questionable with limited practice(he has a broken bone in his foot)So we will see how effective he is.Cruz is not 100 percent either so we will see we will see... so we will see ha ha ha

Ct Sharpe Cheddar's picture

I smell fear in New Jersey

Ct Sharpe Cheddar's picture

Pierre Paul is the best player they have right now on defense.Osi is out and Tuck is playing at abought 75 percent.

Jim's picture

I'll be in 330, tailgating well before hand too... GO PACK!

Ct Sharpe Cheddar's picture

Still a few seats left,Best place to get a ticket is NFL ticket exchange,I take the train to the game it is easy no traffic and expensive parking fees

Jim's picture

I take the train to Yankees games alot, but I haven't to Giants/Jets stadium yet. We got a 4 pack of tickets from a friend w/ a parking pass. leavin CT in an hour...

Bearmeat's picture

I don't think this is even close by the 2nd half. We double them up and show the world Eli's Sad face numerous times.

Pack 42
G men 21

Ct Sharpe Cheddar's picture

I don't see the Giants holding the Pack under 40.They dropped 45 on them last year when they were healthier.They are also comming off a short week and the Pack (Walden)had time to go to jail get out and still look at plenty of film.

Bob Hagen's picture

Protecting Aaron Rodgers is the Packers #1 priority. Aaron will find open receivers and lead us to victory. Our defense has to show up and play as it did against the Vikings. It's time for Francois and Smith to show they are not just back-ups to Bishop and Hawk. GO PACK, GO!!!

Bugeater's picture

Between Fewell's comments about going after Rodgers & the Suh stuff, I think we're gonna see an extra motivated O line. I especially have enjoyed EDS's quiet annoyance over the situation.

Rodgers will get his 300 yds, but look for a big game from the ground: 150+ is what I'm looking for.

This one is gonna be fun!

Aaron Rodgers Mustache's picture

I "cant wait" for this show down either. I think the jints are the last bastian hope for the 72" 'fins before the last game of the season vs detriot.

I am driving up tonight and will be in section 135 row 7. so excited I can hardly hold it in. This will be my 3rd packer game in 12 months. Packer nation UNITE!

as for the game. Nicks and Cruz will have big games and this one will come down to the wire. A late turnover or some other miscue decides it. 31-30 pack! I really think it comes down to bradshaw and how healthy he is. If he is healthy and can get matched up on our linebackers in coverage or get to the second level on a running play.. look out. outside of that, if bradshaw is less than 100% or not playing I think the pack will be fine.

Ct Sharpe Cheddar's picture

Thats a bad ass seat.I'm on the same side (Packer side) on the goaline.I sat on 115a last year at the Jet game which is abought the same yardage line on the other side. I don't see the Giants holding the Pack under 40 with that defense that does'nt get to the QB and can't cover with thier depleted secondary.I watched the Eagle game and the Saint game they don't get to the qb.

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