If the Packers are going to make the playoffs, they’ll have to earn their way in by defeating a Giants team that figures to pose one of the stiffest challenges of the season. Forget about the G-Men going in the tank after last week’s epic fourth quarter collapse against the Eagles. They’ll be coming to Lambeau Field on Sunday afternoon ready to play. And they’ll be bringing with them a powerful running game and a fierce pass rush – two things that have given Green Bay trouble all season.
To combat the dynamic 1-2 punch of Brandon Jacobs and Ahmad Bradshaw, the defensive linemen and linebackers must be physical and disciplined. Jacobs weighs over 260 pounds and would rather run over a defender than around him. Just ask Charles Woodson. Bradshaw has good vision and the ability to explode through cutback lanes. The return of Frank Zombo would definitely help. The rookie right outside linebacker, who missed last week’s game with a knee injury, has been solid against the run all season.
Offensively, the Packers will be challenged to move the ball against the league’s third-ranked defense. And while the line played better against New England, it will have to perform at an even higher level this week. The Giants boast a bevy of dangerous pass rushers and a creative coordinator (Perry Fewell) who likes to play cover-2 and isn’t afraid to blitz. An effective ground game is the best way to attack this defense. Offenses that have been able to gain positive yardage on the ground early and at least make Fewell think about the run have usually been able to make plays down the field later.
The last time the Giants visited Lambeau Field, they left with an overtime win and a trip to Super Bowl XLII. These Giants are fairly similar. The Packers, on the other hand, are a much different team. Green Bay’s three weakest links from that particular game – quarterback Brett Favre, defensive coordinator Bob Sanders and cornerback Al Harris – are no longer around. It would seem Aaron Rodgers, Dom Capers and Tramon Williams represent significant upgrades. Whether that’s going to be enough to offset the 15 players on IR and keep the Packers’ playoff dream alive remains to be seen.