The temperature in Green Bay this morning is 0º. By the 4pm gametime it will be hovering around 13º with a wind chill of 4º. It's going to be a classic Lambeau Field freeze-fest.
In the Packers past history of the Bart Starr's and Brett Favre's playing in Lambeau Field, rarely if ever did the Green Bay Packers lose playoff games at home. Rarely if ever. Then the Falcons did it. Then the Giants and suddenly Lambeau wasn't a great bastion of security for the Packers in the cold.
Which brings us to today.
So goes Aaron Rodgers so go the Packers. The Giants learned this earlier this year and well, heck, everyone knows if Rodgers can run around and, keep plays alive, put pressure on DB's, and make amazing throws off-balance or hail mary's, he's devastating. If you can keep Rodgers bottled up in the pocket, well then, things change dramatically. The Giants have one of the few defensive lines with smart linebackers behind them who have gotten the G-men to 10 wins this year by not chasing plays and not making bonehead decisions, and that can contain Rodgers. The Packers are a team that even when the run isn't going well will stick with it to make hay later when the other team tires. Packers head coach Mike McCarthy knows what he wants to do and doesn't stray much from his gameplans, any changes will be made by Rodgers at the line of scrimmage. The Giants must stop the Green Bay run. They must also always know where the Packer's running backs coming out of the backfield are. Force Rodgers to hit big plays, contain and stop the shorties. RB's in the flats, and don't get killed by the Green Bay tight ends 7 yards over the middle. Lots of nickel today so again, the run has to be stopped by the front four. Contain and slow down the Packers. Sure they'll get yards and score but contain the damage, don't let a possible early 10-0 deficit turn into a 24-7 halftime debacle. Containment. Contest every inch and never stop working. The Packers win games late, the Giants have to build a lead.
Offensively, well the key to playoff success has long been running the football but since the Giants finished 29th in the league rushing either a miracle needs to happen or Eli has to put up about 24 points throwing the ball. Hey, would you look at that, Green Bay was 31st against the pass this year. That sure helps. Can the Giants get enough running to keep the Packers defense honest or do they have to go pass-heavy and this could possibly turn into an unexpected shootout? Johnny's guess is shootout. One team will get a lead and the other will give up running. The Giants wideouts give them a big advantage over the Packers really just having Jordy Nelson. Beckham and Cruz must have big games and feed off of each other. When the Giants hit big plays an aura comes over them and they, more than most teams, seem to really get on a roll. They'll need that aura a few times today.
These teams know each other and know what to expect. It'll come down to hard work, smart football and attention to detail. It'll be close is Johnny's best guess.
New Jersey Giants 23
Green Bay Packers 21