Thought I’d offer up some thoughts on the game far in advance and then some closer to game-time as my feelings about a game seem to evolve throughout the course of the week.
- I’m just not worried about the Giants like I feel I should be. Their O-Line has been dominant. Manning and his WRs have looked really good and Bradshaw and Jacobs are finally getting into the action. And the rise of their D-Line is bringing back bad memories of 2007 for Packer fans. But I’m just not that worried.
- The Giants have been up and down this year and this latest rally probably wouldn’t have happened had either of the last 2 games been on the road. They aren’t a great home team either, but I think they really fed off the energy of their home crowd in the last two games and they won’t have that advantage this week.
- If I were Coach McCarthy, I would put together a 1/2 hr video with of Eli Manning looking like a loser after a poor play – whining, Brandon Jacobs being disgruntled, their punter deciding himself to fake a punt and having it fail, Hakeem Nicks dropping easy TD passes and of course a number of highlights of their defensive deficiencies (especially LBs and secondary) earlier this year. Maybe throw in a highlight from the 2010 season of DeSean Jackson running back the punt to eliminate the Giants. The segue between all the clips would be Tom Coughlin’s trademark bewildered expression – the one he sports so often when something goes wrong. The goal of doing this would be to remind Packer players that this NYG’s team is not far removed from some seriously shoddy play and plenty of internal turmoil. (Coughlin was on the hotseat earlier this year – remember?) While they are riding some very positive momentum presently, it could take just 1 or 2 big turnover plays or other huge errors on their part to set them far enough back mentally to interfere with their ability to compete. The Packers don’t have that problem right now.
- The LBs and DBs for the Giants are just not good. When their pass rush is awesome, it can distract folks from the incompetence of the rest of the D (like yesterday vs Atlanta). So yes, if we allow their pass rush to be too disruptive, we could struggle some. But we can’t forget that overall this unit finished the regular season as the #27 overall defense in yards allowed, #29 in pass yards against and #19 in rushing yards against. This is not a good defense and while Rodgers may get sacked and hit a few times, our offense should be able to march right through the Giants’ D.
- I can’t explain why I am so convinced of this, but I believe the Packers’ defense will be the story of the playoffs. And not a bad story. The unit has been awful this year – averaging more yards allowed per game by the defense than the counterpart offense gains on average. But it has also had moments of quietly stepping up at big times. There is just something different about the playoffs and I think this defense will tighten up and make it very difficult for Eli and company to move the ball.
- Dom Capers better have some backup plans in case we’re not getting enough pressure on Eli (like trying So’oto at ROLB, moving Bishop to ROLB, trying Francois at ROLB, pulling Woodson out of coverage to be a roving presence/always a threat to blitz like Polamalu, other weird blitz looks, etc, etc.) Pressuring Eli will be a huge part of this game. Odd then that I’m so confident the D will play well Sunday when pressuring the QB has been a big problem this year. I guess I just think guys like Raji, Matthews, Bishop and Woodson will be quite disruptive Sunday.
- I do hope that McCarthy and the offense have been working on screen passes, play action and the running game. The Giants pass rush is so aggressive that with some crafty dump passes over and around the NYG D-Linemen, or some sneaky running plays, the Pack can quickly temper that aggressiveness. If they have the chance to straight rush as Rodgers sits in the pocket, we could be in trouble.
- I don’t see this being an especially high scoring game like a few weeks back. I can see the Pack maybe having 27 or 28 points and the Giants having 13 or 14 or so.