2012 Divisional Preview: New York vs. Green Bay

This is the final post this week examining the Divisional matchups in the NFL Playoffs. Thanks for reading!

The final matchup of the NFL Divisional playoff pits the New York Giants against the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field at 4:30 ET on Fox today. The Giants are coming off a big home victory over the Falcons in a game many expected Atlanta to win. Instead, New York demolished the Falcons by a score of 24-2. Now, the Giants face an even bigger test as they face the NFL’s top team. The Packers lost just one game this year, at Kansas City, and put up a huge number of points along the way. The Packers and Giants faced off once before this year in the Meadowlands, with Green Bay narrowly escaping with a 38-35 victory. Here’s a look at the matchup:

Offense: Quarterback Aaron Rodgers leads Green Bay’s offense, throwing for more than 4500 yards and 45 touchdowns this year. Green Bay was third in the NFL in passing and total yards per game as it put up offensive numbers at an impressive rate. Rodgers’s favorite target was Jordy Nelson, who caught 68 passes for 1263 yards and 15 touchdowns. Wide receiver Greg Jennings also racked up almost 1000 yards and nine touchdowns himself. On the ground, the Packers are led by running backs Ryan Grant and James Starks. Neither back put up a tremendous stats but they combined for more than 1100 yards on the year.

The Giants’ offense continued to perform at a high level last week and it was led by quarterback Eli Manning. Manning completed 23 of 32 passes for 277 yards and three touchdowns without throwing an interception. Hakeem Nicks caught six of those passes, two of them for touchdowns while Victor Cruz was held to just two catches for 28 yards. Running back Brandon Jacobs rushed for 92 yards on 14 carries while Ahmad Bradshaw chipped in with 63 yards.

Defense: Like the Patriots, Green Bay’s offense is tremendous, but its defense is terrible. The Packers gave up a league worst 411.6 yards per game, including 299.8 through the air. Thanks to a terrific offense, the Packers’ defense has gotten away with giving up lots of yards and lots of points. But now its the playoffs and one rough offensive game will end Green Bays’ great year if its defensive can’t find a way to make stops. The Giants’ defense, on the other hand, completely dominated the Falcons. Matt Ryan completed just 24 of his 41 passes for 199 yards while Michael Turner was able to rush for just 41 yards on 15 carries, an average of just 2.7 yards. However, New York did not force a turnover and only sacked Ryan twice, but its secondary defense was tremendous and the Falcons scored a grand total of zero points on offense.

Special Teams: Lawrence Tynes did miss a field goal last week against Atlanta, but it never mattered as the Giants controlled the game and won easily. However, a missed field goal this week could cost Tynes and his teammates dearly. The Packers attempted just 28 field goals during the season because it scored touchdowns so often and of those 28, it converted 24 of them.

Overall: If the Giants’ defense can play as it did last week, the Giants should be in great shape. But if Rodgers can find open receivers, he’ll put big numbers. The rowdy Green Bay crowd will certainly cause problems for New York and I expect a very close game from start to finish. In the end though, the Giants’ defense is going to be slightly better than Green Bay’s and send New York to the NFC Championship game:

New York 31 Green Bay 28


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