Wildcard Weekend: New York Giants @ Green Bay Packers

It wouldn’t be the NFL playoffs without a playoff game on the Frozen Tundra of Lambeau Field. Tonight we’re going to dip a couple degrees below zero wind chill. With both of these teams allergic to running the football this game is tricky to pick.

eli-frozenHowever the Packers have committed to running the football in recent weeks with #88 Ty Montgomery in the backfield. How will he hold onto the football with playoff intensity hitting?? He led the team in rushing this year with 457 yards but McCarthy may use #22 Aaron Ripkowski more. He’s more 3 yards and a cloud of dust but he is conditioned to the hitting from close proximity more. Fumbles are critical in cold weather playoff games.

Over the last 6 years of his career, this has been the hardest season to watch him. He just hasn’t looked comfortable all season. His play has been sporadic even though he threw for 4,027 yards 26 TDs and 16 interceptions. Much of this has to do with Odell Beckham’s ability to break big plays for him. He has to keep from turning the ball over on his side of the 50.

Which Eli Manning is going to show up?

Aaron Rodgers has had another great season and many think he should receive MVP consideration. He finished the season with 4,427 yards 40 TDs with just 7 interceptions. He led the Packers to a 5 game winning streak to finish the season as he predicted they would run the table. However none of this happened in below zero weather. For the last 5 years our CEO has questioned if this is the best approach to winning in Lambeau in January. It hasn’t panned out.

Ripkowski could be the unknown factor.

Ripkowski could be the unknown factor.

The penchant for Mike McCarthy to pass, pass, pass could play in the Giants hands as their defense is leading their charge. He has to fight that urge and stay on the ground. Although the Packers have scored over 30 in their last 4 games, the Giants have held 3 of their last 4 opponents to 10 points or less.

New York comes into this game with the NFL’s 10th best defense giving up 339 yards per game. However a closer look and the Giants have only given up 288.5 yards per game in the last 4. That would have the Giants ranked #1 and this is how they are coming into Lambeau Field. Early in the season Green Bay receivers were having a hard time getting open. Now they face CBs Janoris Jenkins, Eli Apple, and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie who have jelled into the best secondary in football. At least from the corner position. They will smother the slow Packers receivers.

Jenkins and the CBs for New York are the key to New York winning this game.

Jenkins and the CBs for New York are the key to New York winning this game.

On the strength of this defensive matchup and the cold, the defense will keep Eli and the offense in it. They will need 1 or 2 explosive plays from Odell Beckham and the Giants will win a close game 23-16. Eli Manning has always risen to the occasion when he needs to make that one play.

 

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Free Agency Day 2 – Late Signings

A move to bolster the Seahawks pass rush weakens conference rival Detroit.

A move to bolster the Seahawks pass rush weakens conference rival Detroit.

The Seattle Seahawks are really after a trip to Super Bowl XLVIII and continued to strengthen themselves with the signing of DE Cliff Avril formerly of Detroit. In 5 seasons with the Lions he amassed 168 tackles and 39 1/2 sacks. They almost lost  him last year when they gave him the franchise tag after an 11 1/2 sack season. They had made a 10-6 season and looked to be headed to sunny days when the roof fell in during 2012. Now the front running Seahawks have added a pass rusher in his prime to join Bruce Irvin (8 sacks) and a recovering DE Chris Clemons from injury.

At 27 years of age Avril signs a 2 year contract worth $15 million, to help this team get to the Super Bowl. He has another chance at a free agent contract if he performs during these next two seasons. Even then he’d be 29 years of age and should be able to get after the passer with a three man rush in passing situations. The Seahawks have insulated themselves that two of the three best pass rushers should be healthy by the time we get to the 2013 playoffs.

The Indianapolis Colts come to terms with former New York Jet S LaRon Landry to bolster the NFL’s 21st against the pass defense. Not bad for a team that finished 11-5 in 2012, although they gave up 387 points. Head Coach Chuck Pagano knows his team can’t depend on Andrew Luck bringing the team from behind multiple times again. Now they sign a Pro Bowl S to a 4 year $24 million deal.

Amendola will have to fill some big shoes in New England.

Amendola will have to fill some big shoes in New England.

After losing Wes Welker to conference rival Denver, the Patriots signed former St Louis Ram slot receiver Danny Amendola a 5 year deal worth $31 million. Really?? Over a receiver that set a league record having 5, 100 catch seasons?? Sure Amendola is only turning 28 years old, he’s caught just 196 career passes in 4 years. Compare that to the last two years where Welker caught 240 combined. Go figure. The callousness that Chad Ochocinco was shown to a fan favorite coming off 5 straight Pro Bowl seasons. Amendola will have some pressure on him this year as fans and pundits compare the two all next year.

The Denver Broncos signed former Eagle CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie to a one year deal after struggling in the City of Brotherly Love. His story is intriguing since he was almost an after-thought thrown into the trade between the Arizona Cardinals and Eagles for quarterback Kevin Kolb. If he can give a better performance than Tracy Porter, he can possibly turn it into a serious payday next year. He’s also going to a contender and can resurrect his career as a definitive starting corner, or be relegated to that of a nickel back and special teams player only from here on out. He better bring his “A” game since he’ll be playing across Champ Bailey.

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Taylor Blitz Times new logo!!

Taylor Blitz Times new logo!!