Diary of a Giants Fan: Giants-Packers Playoff Preview
And here. We. Go. One week after demolishing the Atlanta Falcons, the New York Giants will travel to Lambeau Field and try to stay alive in the chase for the Lombardi Trophy.
The Green Bay Packers. 15-1. Star Studded. Perfection at quarterback. Overwhelming Super Bowl favorite. The best team in football…Scared yet? You probably should be. A trip to Lambeau is almost as daunting a task as an NFL team could draw in these playoffs. I mean let’s not dance around it Giant fans, the Packers are damn good. Aaron Rodgers is playing as well as any quarterback that I’ve ever seen. His 2011 season is surpassed only by the stats thrown up in ’07 by the incomparable number 12. No. Not Tom Brady. I’m talking about Joe Bianchino, New York Giant All-Pro quarterback who threw for 60 touchdowns and 6,000 yards en route to a Super Bowl win…To answer your questions, yeah, I’m talking about my franchise in Madden ’07, and yeah I named him after myself, but so what? Dude can’t pretend to live the dream?
Ok. Here’s an idea. How’s about we get past my freshman year of college? Suffice it to say that Aaron Rodgers and his host of weapons are nothing short of prodigious. That offense is the reason that the Packers are the overall number one seed in this year’s playoffs and the reason that they have been installed as a favorite in this matchup with Big Blue. Combine their ability to look world-beating through the air with the Giants’ inability to cover guys like Doug Baldwin (he plays for the Seahawks incase you’re not Mel Kiper – if you are Mel Kiper: Thanks for reading, tell your friends), there’s a lot to be terrified of going into Sunday.
So I ask you Giant fans: Why don’t I feel it? Why haven’t I spent the bulk of the week crouched in a dark room lamenting the impending doom? Why hasn’t my head been filled with replays of the Giants secondary being torn apart by quarterbacks that aren’t fit to hold Rodgers’ clip board (Sorry Charlie Whitehurst. I love the ‘stache but come on – we all know what you are). The answer is simple: This is an entirely different New York Giant team. Big Blue has played inspired defense the last three weeks. Their season ending wins over the Jets and Cowboys were exactly what Giant fans had spent all season developing a drinking problem looking for. Finally the defensive line was coming alive, pressuring the opposing quarterback and taking pressure off of that dumpster-fire of a secondary. Those efforts crescendoed into last week’s stomping of the Falcons – their masterpiece. Not only did Pierre-Paul, Tuck and Umenyiora relentlessly harass Matt Ryan, but Cory Webster and the secondary actually looked like NFL players. Their best game of the season, the 24-2 defensive domination is exactly what has sent some Giant fans into a matchup with the big, bad Packers with some sort of a swagger – and it’s exactly the game they’ll need this week.
Any Giant win on Sunday will have to feature that kind of defensive performance. We all know it: With their defense looking suspect this season, the Green Bay Packers go as their offense goes. It’s easier said then done – and it’s pretty easily said. I’m writing this with my feet up on my coffee table and 30 Rock re-runs in the background (what a life) – but the Giants have got to find a way to stop Aaron Rodgers. To me, such an effort has to start with the pass rush. While I have confidence that the secondary will play as well as they did last week – as long as they play a physical game – I’m not so much of a homer as to expect them to be able to hang with the Packers’ receivers. Tuck, Pierre-Paul and Umenyiora will have to be the difference makers that they can be. Simple Truth: Rodgers can’t throw touchdowns from his back. In addition, I think the interior of the Giant D-Line will have to play big. Canty and Bernard may be the X-factors of this game. Rodgers is surprisingly mobile and a great thrower of the football while on the run. If the Giants aren’t able to collapse the pocket with pressure from the ends and with pressure up the middle, they’ll be burned all game long by Rodgers’ legs. Bottom line. That front seven has to have the game of their lives. Without such an effort, the Giants simply can not win.
As for the Giant offense, I’m not worried. But just to fill those theoretical column inches: It was nice to watch Kevin Gilbride discover that he has a running game last week, and I think he needs to continue the effort this week. A potent running attack could help control the game and keep Rodgers off the field. Either way, however, I think the Giants should be fine. Yes, I’m a little worried that the Packers defense is better than what they’ve shown this season. And yes, I’m a little worried that the Giants will come out and show the booze induced effort that colored their first quarter last week, but in the end, they’ll be fine.
So how will it all shake out? It’s hard to say. A juxtaposition of the teams’s respective seasons really only leaves you with one conclusion. The home team will dominate. I think it’s hard for anyone who isn’t a Giant homer to make a definitive case for Big Blue as anything more than a live long-shot. 15-1 versus 9-7, with one of those 15 wins having come on the road against the Giants? An aerial attack that makes the U.S. air force blush versus a secondary that is so often reduced to rubble? How does that not become a Packer win?
Well, because this is the New York Bleepin’ Giants that we’re talking about. They don’t back down from anyone – you know, unless they’re considerably better than the “anyone.” They’re not scared of situations. They go on the road, they play the game that no one expects them to play, they shock the world. Let us not forget the last Packer-Giant playoff game from Lambeau – I know Tom Coughlin hasn’t, he still has the frost bite. Let us not forget week nine. In Foxboro. Against the mighty Patriots. 24-20 win. There’s a reason that so many of my articles have featured the word “Defiant.” Because that’s what this Giant team is – it’s what they always have been.
I know two things going into this game: 1. The Packers will score more than 2 points. 2. The Giants won’t get blown out (knock on wood). After that, it’s six to five and pick ’em. To me, it all boils down to Giant defensive line versus Packer offensive line. Eli Manning will be Eli Manning, I have full confidence. Can Tuck and the gang keep Rodgers from being Rodgers? Either way, I definitely think this will be a close game and a real sight to see. These are two big time aerial assaults – the Packers being the larger of the two – versus two defenses still struggling to find themselves. Like I said, it’s difficult to look at this game and see a Giant win, but let’s not forget the last time a defiant group of ruffians took on a bigger, stronger, better aerial attack.
YEAHHHH!!!! THAT’S WHAT I’M TALKING ABOUT BILL PULMAN!!! LET’S GO KICK SOME ALIEN/PACKER ASS! Woo! All fired up by one of the greatest movie moments of the last 25 years, let me say this: If the defensive line puts pressure on Rodgers, especially up the middle, this just might be the Giants’ day. With no earthly idea why I’m doing it: Giants 30-24. DEFIANCE!
Check back here after the game for my recap – let’s hope not a season recap – and as always, GO GIANTS!