The Green Bay Packers are the best football team in the National Football League. But if there's one team in the NFC that is uniquely skilled to defeat the Packers on the hallowed grounds of Lambeau Field, it's the Giants.
Beating the Packers at home in January is like trying to jam four pounds of lard in a three-pound tub. A confluence of variables must come together, forming a medley of football maxims that typically don't happen in the same game.
The Giants have the raw ingredients to make Green Bay stew.
Speaking of raw, the weather in Green Bay Sunday shouldn't be a problem. The forecast calls for partly cloudy skies and high and low temperatures of 29 and 21 degrees, respectively. Although the forecast is relatively benign for this time of year in the land of cheese, it's still going to be cold.
The Giants are a cold weather team and they have tangible reasons as to why they can beat the Packers on Sunday.
New York has a stable of pass rushers that give them the unique ability to rush four defenders, drop seven into coverage and get pressure on Aaron Rodgers. And pressure with four is what gives the Giants a chance defensively.
Osi Umenyiora is back and had a sack last week against the Falcons. Justin Tuck is getting healthy once again. Jason Pierre-Paul has turned into a monster and is all over the field. Throw in the rotation the likes of Dave Tollefson, Chris Canty and Rocky Bernard and the Giants are able to keep these pass rushers fresh.
By having their full cadre of players up front, keeping them fresh, the Giants secondary is not the liability that it was during the season. Quarterbacks that don't have time to go through their progression and read coverage have their margin of error reduced significantly - no matter who you are.
Although Rodgers is not your ordinary quarterback, even he succumbs to the laws and physics of a fierce pass rush.
Rodgers will still put up numbers, move the ball and score points. But like every great offense that has ever been, playing great defense against them means mitigating their points by taking away what they do best. The Packers throw the ball better than anybody in the league, including Drew Brees and the Saints.
And even if you take away what Aaron Rodgers and the Packers do best, it's still not enough to beat them in Lambeau unless you can do three things on offense: run the ball, be good on third-down and protect the ball.
Again, the Giants have the ingredients:
New York is running the ball with conviction. Brandon Jacobs and Ahmad Bradshaw became the terrible twosome last week against Atlanta and are getting healthy again. The Packers defense gave up 4.67 yards per carry and ranked #26 in the league.
Eli Manning is the most underrated quarterback in the NFL. He threw for almost 5,000 yards, 29-touchdowns, and had a quarterback rating of 92.9. Those numbers rank Eli 4th, 6th and 7th in the league, respectively. Throw in the fact that Eli has played in big games - like the Super Bowl - and won big games and you have yourself a the perfect guy to upset Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers. Manning is experienced, talented and mentally sturdy.
Put the Giants new found ingredient of running the ball and Eli Manning's beef-jerky toughness together and Tom Coughlin has the perfect stew to warm the hearts of Giants fans everywhere.
New York can use this pigskin-stew to keep the ball away from Rodgers, shorten the game, limit the Packers possessions and have a chance to steal the game in the fourth quarter.
I have great respect for Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers. Mike McCarthy has done an awesome job of coaching this football team and they're still my pick to win another Super Bowl; but beware of Coughlin's stew. The upset special of the postseason is simmering on the stove.
Tom Coughlin's Gatorade shower might look darker, taste spicier, and feel warmer than it ever has before.