Week 12: New York Giants Vs. Green Bay Packers
- QuarterbackThe Giants have gone through a significant downturn over the last month of the season. Eli Manning has been a big part of that. There are no doubts about Manning’s ability to come through in big games and he is one of the elite quarterbacks in the game, but he is in a slump. If he has a tired arm, the bye week came at the right time and he needs to respond in this game.Aaron Rodgers is not one to let his team make excuses. Yes, the Packers have suffered a slew of injuries this year and they have not always played their best game. However, when the game comes down to late execution, Rodgers welcomes those opportunities and will usually put the ball on the money when the Packers have a chance to win. In a league with Drew Brees, Tom Brady and Peyton Manning, Rodgers just may be the best of the bunch.
- OffenseThe Giants need to give Manning a solid ground game in order to bring out the best in their passing game. Ahmad Bradshaw has rushed for a solid 675 yards and his 4.5 ypc mark is respectable, but he has been up-and-down in his production. Wide receivers Victor Cruz and Hakeem Nicks have the ability to get open and make big play. Tight end Martellus Bennett is talented but inconsistent.The absence of a ground game has not prevented head coach Mike McCarthy from piling up the rushing attempts. Alex Green has gotten plenty of attempts, but a mark of 3.1 yards per carry is not good enough. Receivers Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb, James Jones and tight end Jermichael Finley have allowed the Packers to overcome the poor running attack and the absence of Greg Jennings (groin/abdomen).
- DefenseIt’s not enough for the Giants to have the best pass rush on paper. They must turn that ability into consistent production if they are going to slow down Rodgers. Jason Pierre-Paul has 6.5 sacks, but he’s not on pace to match last year’s 16.5 sacks. The same holds for Osi Umenyiora and Justin Tuck. They need to pick it up and if they don’t against the Packers, Rodgers will burn them.Don’t expect to see Clay Matthews in the lineup for the Packers. Matthews has been sidelined with a hamstring injury and he is not likely to play in this game. Matthews is a formidable pass rusher and he has 9.0 sacks to his credit. The Packers have gotten a lift this season from cornerback Casey Heyward, who has a team-leading 5 interceptions.
- Special TeamsIf the game comes down to a field goal, head coach Tom Coughlin is confident that Lawrence Tynes can get the job done. Tynes gets plenty of opportunities and he has made 28-of-31 FG attempts. Steve Weatherford is averaging 46.9 yards per punt and has a long of 68 yards.The Packers have done a decent job in kickoff and punt coverage this year. However, placekicker Mason Crosby has not found his rhythm this season. He has been a liability for the Packers and he has made just 11-of-18 field goal attempts this season. Tim Masthay has dropped 26 of his 48 punts in the opponents’ 20-yard line.
The Giants have had a week off to work out the kinks in their offense. If Manning is suffering from a tired arm, the time away should help return him to top form. The Packers have reeled off five straight win, but trying to stop the Giants without having Mathews in the lineup may be too much to ask.