After looking like the furthest thing from a playoff-bound squad at certain points in the season, the New York Giants have impressively erased those memories as they prepare for a divisional round clash against the top team in football, the Green Bay Packers. These two squads met in Week 15 of the regular season in New York, with the then undefeated Packers squeaking out a 38-35 victory over the Giants. In that game, both squads looked relatively even as only two yards of offense separated the teams. Moreover, Green Bay continued their disturbing trend of being susceptible to the big play on defense. Against a Giants squad which boasts the likes of Nicks, Manningham, and Victor Cruz, the Packers secondary must regain or its form, or else a splendid regular season will be wasted with an early post-season exit.
Last week, the Giants manhandled a fading Falcons team and look to be peaking on both sides of the football at exactly the right moment. They have long been a team loaded with potential, but have struggled to put it together over an extended period of time. It looks like those days are in the past as now the Giants look excellent in all areas of the game and look to give the Packers a real challenge in the fortress that is Lambeau Field.
On the injury front, both teams have some concerns but all key players should be good to go come kick-off on Sunday afternoon. For New York, running backs Ahmad Bradshaw and D.J. Ware are probable, but are almost certain to be suiting up. And for the Packers, while both offensive tackles in Bryan Bulaga and Chad Clifton are banged up and listed as probable, they’ll be in the line-up on Sunday, and for the first time together since Week 2. Meanwhile, star receiver for Green Bay Greg Jennings will return to the field and should wreak havoc on a vulnerable Giants secondary.
Finally, the weather at this time of the year in Lambeau Field is always a factor, and this game should be no different. Already the area has had a fair share of snow but it should be cleared for game-time. Meanwhile, though it should be fairly chilly on Sunday, with temperatures hovering around the freezing mark, no precipitation is expected actual during game hours.
Giants vs. Packers Spread, Line, and Betting Odds:
New York Giants +8 (-115)
@ Green Bay Packers -8 (-105)
Over 52.5 (-110)
Under 52.5 (-110)
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Giants vs. Packers Pick:
Undoubtedly the Packers were the best NFL team over the course of the regular season, but all is forgotten come Sunday as a new season dawns for Green Bay. And though all signs point to the Packers advancing easily and coasting their way to yet another Super Bowl, don’t count out the red-hot Giants. This is a squad which features many players with deep post-season experience, and know how to win these games in hostile environments. For the Giants to have a legitimate shot, just like last week, they’ll need to effectively use their lethal pass-rush to their advantage. Going up against football’s top quarterback in Aaron Rodgers will be no easy feat, but with the talent they boast on the outside edges in Jason Pierre-Paul, Justin Tuck, and Osi Umenyiora, anything is possible. If the Giants can devise a strategy to continually get to Rodgers and disrupt his comfort and rhythm in the pocket, this could easily tilt the balance of this contest in favour of the Giants.
Additionally, when both teams first met in Week 15, the Giants came out on top in the one-on-one matchups of their receivers going against the Green Bay secondary. This Packers defense has been brutal this season, and though it was a strong point during last season’s run for Green Bay, they’ve yet to replicate that form again this year. Going up against a scary Giants aerial attack could complicate matters for the Packers, with such an exploitable defense. Green Bay is dead last in the NFL at defending the pass and expect New York to use their 5th-ranked passing offense to exploit the Packers’ secondary whenever they choose. Moreover, New York in that first contest had three plays go for over 50 yards, a truly impressive figure. That big-play ability will always keep New York within striking distance in this game.
While the Packers should escape with a narrow win , the Giants will give Green Bay all they can handle. To put it simply, I’m not fond of this match-up for Green Bay as on paper the Giants possess all the tools to beat them and come in riding a ton of momentum on their side. New York’s biggest strength is their pass-rush and they’ll attack a rusty Chad Clifton all game long. While the Giants won’t be able to fully limit Rodgers, they will get to him and force some bad decisions and rushed passes. In the end, expect an excellent Giants effort to fall just short, as the Packers escape and advance to the NFC Championship game.
PICK = Giants +8 @ www.5Dimes.com