The first round of the 2011/12 National Football League playoffs is now in the history books, with the only surprise being the Tim Tebow-led Denver Broncos win over the Pittsburgh Steelers in overtime. In the National Football Conference, the # 4 seed New York Giants prevailed over the Atlanta Falcons and thus won the rights to travel to Lambeau Field next week to face the # 1 seed Green Bay Packers.
The Packers won their contest against the Giants back in week # 13 in New York in a 38 – 35 shootout. In that game Aaron Rodgers had a huge day but the Packer defense was not so hot. It took some last-minute heroics for Rodgers to pull off that victory. Cheeseheads would prefer a blowout win next week, but the way the Packer defense has played lately, that seems unlikely.
The Giants have a good team and they seem to be peaking at just the right time, like the Packers did last year. The Giants have a very good defensive line. Jason Pierre-Paul is an incredibly talented young defensive end and he has some buddies who are good too. The Packers need a good effort by their offensive line to give Rodgers the time he needs to get the aerial assault in gear. If that happens, the Packers should be able to match up well with their talented receiving corps versus the Giants’ secondary and roll up some significant yards and points. Look for Mike McCarthy to dial up some draw and screen plays to cool off the Giants’ pass rush.
When the Giants have the ball they will be dangerous because they have a decent power running game and a decent quarterback and very good receiving corps. The Giants have the ability to control the ball with their running game and they are not neophytes playing a football game in the cold, which is expected on January 15 in Green Bay. The Packers’ defense needs to step up their play in the playoffs. Some early stops against the Giants’ offense will be a key to this game.
In summary, the Giants pony up a pretty tough match-up for the World Champions. However, the Packers finished their regular season 15 – 1, and the Giants finished 9 – 7. There is a reason for that which would be that the Packers have a better team. They just need to go out and prove it again next Sunday. The oddsmakers have established the Pack as nine-point favorites at home, but I see it closer than that.