Joe Tufaro of GMen HQ and I spent time exchanging questions this weekend about today’s Packers vs. Giants NFC Divisional Playoff game. You can go to see the answers he provided to us here and you can see how I responded to his questions below.
Read on and get ready for today’s epic matchup.
Q. The Giants are suddenly the most balanced team remaining in the playoffs. With a healthy running game, a big play passing game, and a defense that looks ready to make a statement. Could they be the most dangerous opponent for the Packers?
A. I think all football fans have been debating that all week. Because the Dec. 4 game came down to the last second and the way the Giants have played during their final three weeks, as well as their dismantling of the Falcons, everyone is acutely aware of the danger the Giants bring to Lambeau Field Sunday.
What really scares me about the Giants is the running game. I feel the Packers will handle the Giants defense, but if New York is able to control the line of scrimmage when they are on offense and gets its running game going, that could spell trouble for the Packers. If the Giants control the clock with the running game and keeps the Packers offense off the field, that’s trouble with a capital T. Needless to say, I feel this could be a monumental battle for both teams and the difference could come down to turnovers and special teams.
See more after the jump
Q. Does anyone expect the Packer defense to suddenly come alive, or are they only going as far as the offense can take them, which admittedly could be very far?
A. The Packers defense is what it is. I don’t see them “coming alive” at this point. It’s a group that has given up huge chunks of real estate through big plays, has allowed teams to run roughshod over them between the 20s, but seems to keep teams out of the end zone – at least enough to allow the offense to score more points than the opponents. The defense has also been opportunistic. Though they rank last in the league in passing yards allowed, they also lead the league in interceptions. Again, it will be an interesting matchup between the Packers defense and the Eli Manning-led Giants offense.
Q. What do you see as the keys to the game from the Packer perspective?
A. #1. The Packers have to move the ball and they have to score a lot of points because everyone on the planet knows that the Giants are going to do the same – the Packers defense is porous. #2. The Packers have to get at least one or two turnovers … it’s the turnovers that change the momentum during a game and it seems to be that much more important when playing at home. #3. The Packers have to win the special teams war. If Randall Cobb can tip the field in the Packers direction with some decent returns, that could make a huge difference.
So, to wrap this up, the Packers have to score, the defense has to get a couple of turnovers and the special teams have to perform well.
Q. Is there a point in the game where Mike McCarthy would change offensive linemen if the Giants pass rush is just too much, or is he committed to the veterans like Chad Clifton?
A. He might, but only if Clifton is struggling mightily. I’m sure he will have packages in that will provide blocking help from the tight end and running backs, so I think that if Rogers can get rid of the ball quickly, if the Packers can execute some screens, draws and rollouts, and if the Packers can get a semblance of a running game together, the offensive line Will be OK.
Q. Prediction on how the game plays out?
A. I feel it will be a close first half, but like all games (with the exception of the Kansas City game), the Packers will get its game on track in the third quarter and coast to a win in the fourth quarter.
No doubt, the Giants will score and will probably have some big plays in doing it. That’s just been how things have been for the Packers this season. However, unlike the Falcons, the Packers will score more than two points, I can guarantee that.
In the end, I feel the Packers will come away with a 35-24 win.