We're the Defending Champions. We have the NFL's MVP. We finished 15-1. We're well rested. We're playing at home. Yet, most I talk to are picking the G-Men. In fact, I heard on the radio last night that 84% of the money in Vegas that is being placed on this game is being put on the Giants. Let's do this, Lambeau!
Many I talk to point to the 2007 NFC Championship game as a reason to believe the G-Men will win. I hear the "they've done it before." Sure, there are similarities. It'll be at Lambeau. It'll be McCarthy vs. Coughlin. But, there are HUGE differences. Put it this way, the Packers will start 5 players on offense (Grant, Driver, Jennings, Clifton, and Wells) and 3 players on defense (Woodson, Hawk, and Pickett) that started the 2007 NFC Championship game. What more fresh in these players minds is the 45-17 drubbing that the Packers handed out the Giants last year as both teams fought for the 6th and final playoff spot. On that day, Eli threw 4 TD interceptions. What's even fresher is the Packers 38-35 victory in New York. The Giants are undoubtedly healthier now than they were on that day, but the Packers took the Giants best shot. Regardless of health, I'm not sure the Giants can play any better than they did in our earlier match-up this year. And the Packers left with victory. It's worth noting that McCarthy is 3-1 against McCarthy. Rodgers is 2-0 against Eli.
Since Mike McCarthy became the Head Coach of the Green Bay Packers in 2006, he's encountered immensely difficult scenarios. He dealt with the Favre exit and choosing Rodgers over Favre. Then, he had to face Favre as a Viking - 4 times. In the Super Bowl run, injuries attempted to derail the season. And, now, in the Run for the Repeat, once again, McCarthy is faced with drama. This time in absolutely tragic fashion. Obviously, the death of Michael Philbin will has had an affect on the locker room. It's an immensely sad story. Additionally, over the last week, the Packers have lost Reggie McKenzie, Philbin has had 2 interviews for Head Coaching opportunities, Tom Clements has been the subject of rumors to be an Offensive Coordinator elsewhere, John Dorsey has been offered opportunities to interview in other places, Winston Moss appears to be the leading candidate to coach the Oakland Raiders next year, and by some accounts, Darren Perry might be going with him. These are distractions. Major distractions. McCarthy has been quoted as saying "Proper Preparation Prevents Poor Performance." I have to believe the Packers will be prepared to receive the Giants best punch.
I have great respect for the Giants organization. They're a confident bunch who believes that they're peaking at the right time. In some ways, their season is aligned with what the Packers pulled off last year. After an embarrassing Division loss in December, they were forced to win their last two to make the playoffs. In Week 16, the Giants beat a team from New York. Last year, in Week 16, the Packers beat a team from New York. In Week 17, the Giants had to beat a Divisional Rival in order to make the playoffs. Last year, in Week 17, the Packers had to beat the hated Bears in order to make the playoffs. In the playoffs, the Giants had to get through the Falcons. Last year, in the playoffs, the Packers had to get through the Falcons.
No worries. The Packers aren't losing this game.
I have full confidence that the Lambeau Faithful will be rocking. ALL GAME! From the 1st snap, it'll be difficult for the G-Men. It'll be loud. It'll be rowdy. The atmosphere will be unparalleled in American sports.
Early in the game, look for the Giants to try and establish the run. They'll try to run the ball to the right side of our defense. Regardless of who is playing ROLB for the Packers, Capers should move either Peprah or Woodson to the right side of the defense as an 8th man in the box. Both Woodson and Peprah play the run well. While the Giants have struggled running the ball in 2011, they did have success against the Packers in the December match-up. They rushed for 100 yards on only 20 carries, averaging 5 yards an attempt. The Giants like to collapse the line and run a counter/cut-back to the left side of their offensive line. To reiterate, we must be prepared with an 8th man in the box.
Stop the run. Then come on inside blitzes with our middle LB's on passing downs. If Eli Manning gets pressure in his face, he makes mistakes. Eli is tough to sack as when the pressure comes, he throws off his back foot and floats the ball in the air. With our ball hawking DB's, good things will happen for the Packers. We'll have opportunities to make plays if we can get pressure between the guards. It'll be important to seize those moments.
I'm confident that T-Mon matches up with Nicks. I'm confident that Sammy Swagga can man-up against Manningham. I'm confident that Woodson can jam Cruz off his route at the line of scrimmage. Yes, the Giants WR's will make plays, but I believe the Packers will limit the amount of big plays that we've seen the Giants live off of in 2011. It didn't happen in the December match-up, but I have a feeling it'll be different on Sunday.
Offensively, it'll come down to protecting the NFL's MVP. The Giants DL is deep. It's lethal. It's a must to chip JPP. Early & Often. If not every play. Don't let JPP beat you. He's a game changer. In 2-TE sets, have one of the TE's chip JPP prior to his route. On long developing routes, roll Rodgers to the opposite side of JPP and have J-Mike chip JPP before running a safe, check-down crossing route.
If the Packers try to pound the ball, they'll struggle. Spread 'em out. They can't cover us. Early on, let's see some 12-yard back shoulder passes. It'll set up the stop and go for later on. Kenny Phillips and Antrel Rolle talk a good game. You can also beat Deon Grant. Neither is particularly good playing in space. 15 yard crossing routes. They could turn into BIG plays. We've seen Jordy Nelson get behind Antrel Rolle before, we'll see it again on Sunday.
In a back and forth game, the Packers have the ball and a 4 point lead mid-way through the 4th Quarter. Rodgers grabs the ball and the game on a big play to Greg Jennings over Corey Webster. Welcome back, Greg. Be great!
Packers 34. Giants 30.
Go Pack Go!