The Two Most Recent Super Bowl Champions Meet in New York; Packers Out for Revenge
By: Kim O'Hara | Posted: November 23, 2012
New York, seeking to halt its pre-bye freefall this week against Green Bay, has two intangible, in no way calculable or reliable, factors in its favor. First of all, it posted its most complete game of the season while dominating an NFC Championship rematch against the 49ers in San Francisco, the first of three teams the Giants will face since eliminating them in the 2011 playoffs. (The Giants also play Atlanta, their 2011 Wild Card opponent, in Week 15. Kind of cool, huh? How often do teams play all three of its playoff opponents in the following season?) Additionally, with the Redskins (...no, really) breathing down their neck for NFC East supremacy, the Giants should approach Sunday's game like their backs are against the wall. And in Tom Coughlin's tenure as head coach, that's been when his team looks its finest. When the media and prognosticators begin piling on New York, it plays with elevated purpose and precision.
There's been speculation that quarterback Eli Manning's evident slump (one touchdown against six interceptions in his last four starts) is due to a tired arm. He spent most of his Week 11 bye not throwing, so he should be well-rested when the Packers come to town. That doesn't address a set of underperforming running backs (Ahmad Bradshaw hasn't been at 100% health all season, and Andre Brown hasn't been used enough to regain the rhythm he found in Bradshaw's absence, while rookie David Wilson has played like, well, a rookie) or ailing receivers (both Hakeem Nicks and Domenik Hixon have missed time due to injuries this season), of course, but a healthy, productive Eli Manning has been the Giants' most important weapon the past four seasons. As Manning goes, so does the offense. He must channel "Good Eli" against Green Bay.
Speaking of quarterbacks, there's no one who does payback better in the NFL than Green Bay's Aaron Rodgers. Rodgers put up an MVP performance in 2011, leading his team to near-perfection, only to drop in the divisional playoff round. When schedules were released in April, I can absolutely imagine Rodgers, who often appears to channel Michael Jordan as master of the chip-on-the-shoulder approach to athletics, circling November 25th while indulging in a little revenge fantasy. Rodgers can't earn the win on his own, though. Green Bay's defense will need to contain the rested Manning, which becomes an immediately taller order with indomitable (but injured) linebacker Clay Matthews on the sidelines. Beating the Giants this weekend obviously won't change the Packers' early exit from last year's playoffs, but with New York clinging to its waning lead in the NFC East, it would be satisfying on some level for Green Bay to hinder the Giants' postseason chances.
Kim O'Hara is the Associate Editor of TheFootballGirl.com. She is an avid fan of sports in general, but the NFL in particular. She has also been a contributor to ESPN the Magazine. Follow her on Twitter: @KimOHaraTFG
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