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Predictions & Projections
David Dorey
The Huddle
~ 2007 ~
Season Ticket
Sunday 3 P.M. EST
Sunday 6:30 P.M. EST

Prediction: NYG 14, GB 31

The Giants continue their quest to beat yet another division winner and while this seems a mismatch, don't tell the Giants who have not been favored in either of their playoffs wins. The Packers handled the Seahawks with relative ease last week and are one game away from sending Brett Favre to another Super Bowl to complete his magical season. The Packers already beat the Giants 35-13 in New York back in week two.

The weather forecast calls for partly cloudy skies but no rain or snow. There should be no winds as well but the temperatures will be around a frigid 3 degrees. That has to have some effect even though both teams are "cold weather" teams.

Line: Packers by 7, O/U - 41

New York Giants (10-6)
Homefield: Giants Stadium
  Opp Score Spread Over/Under
1 @DAL 35-45 +5.5 44
2 GB 13-35 -2.5 38.5
3 @WAS 24-17 +3.5 40.5
4 PHI 16-3 +2.5 47
5 NYJ 35-24 -3 41
6 @ATL 31-10 -3 43.5
7 SF 33-15 -9.5 40
8 @MIA 13-10 -9.5 48
9 BYE - - -
10 DAL 20-31 +1.5 49
11 @DET 16-10 -2.5 49.5
12 MIN 17-41 -7 41
13 @CHI 21-16 -1.5 43
14 @PHI 16-13 +3 42.5
15 WAS 16-22 -4.5 40
16 @BUF 38-21 -3 34.5
17 NE 35-38 +14.5 44
P1 @TB 24-14 +3 39.5
P2 @DAL 21-17 +7.5 47
P3 @GB   +7 41
NYG at GB Rush Catch Pass
QB Eli Manning     190,1
RB Brandon Jacobs 50,1 10  
RB Ahmad Bradshaw 40 20  
TE Kevin Boss   50,1  
WR Plaxico Burress   30  
WR Amani Toomer   30  
WR Steve Smith   40  
PK Lawrence Tynes   2 XP  
Pregame Notes: It's like the Giants are making a replay of the movie "Escape from New York". When they play at home, the Giants were only 3-5. On the road, they have now gone 9-1 and the lone loss was just more than compensated for by beating the Cowboys last week in the second trip to Dallas. While the Cowboys were favored to be in this game, the reality is that they peaked and got complacent while the Giants went on a mid-season slide only to show up again for the last month playing better than ever. This game shapes up as the team of destiny (Packers) facing a team that simply refuses to go away.

Quarterback: Sure, it was expected that a Manning would be in the conference championship game but Eli? The same quarterback that threw only six touchdowns over eight games ending in week 15 has now passed for eight scores in the last three games against the elite of the league. After posting four scores against the Patriots, Eli Manning tossed two scores in each of the playoff games and never had an interception in either. The same quarterback that threw 19 interceptions in his first 15 games now has only one in the last three. Granted - his yardage has never been above 185 in the playoffs but he has made no mistakes and scored twice in each game. It's like he suddenly became the quarterback he was always supposed to be.

Manning passed for 211 yards and one score against the Packers in week two with one interception.

Running Backs: The Giants have settled on an interesting and productive committee where Brandon Jacobs takes almost all the initial carries in a game and pounds the line. And usually in the second half Ahmad Bradshaw trots on to add an entirely new and speedy dimension to the backfield. Over the last two playoff games, Jacobs has had only mild success rushing with 27 carries for 88 yards but he scored twice and added another touchdown via a pass in Tampa Bay. By comparison, Bradshaw has turned in 23 carries for 100 yards. It's playing out like the Thunder and Lightning that was envisioned back in the initial days of Ron Dayne and Tiki Barber. Bradshaw only had six carries coming into week 16 and yet rolled up 151 yards on 17 carries against the Pats. It's like once the defense gets tired of stopping the bull, the rabbit comes in and makes them run.

Derrick Ward was the starter in the previous meeting with the Packers and rushed for 90 yards on 15 carries.

Wide Receivers: The defenses have plotted to take Plaxico Burress out of the equation in the playoffs and he only has five catches for 38 yards in the two games played. But Amani Toomer has surprisingly come to life, catching three touchdowns in those games despite only catching three in the entire regular season. After catching seven passes for 74 yards and a score in Tampa Bay, he had four catches for 80 yards and two touchdowns in Dallas including a 50 yard score when the Dallas defenders underestimated how hard he was to tackle.

Also a surprise has been the increased use of the rookie Steve Smith who had three catches for 29 yards in Tampa Bay and then four receptions for 48 yards last week. He's displaced the always injured Sinorice Moss and could be angling for more playing time next year.

Burress scored once on his two catches for 32 yards against the Packers while Toomer was held to two receptions for 48 yards.

Tight Ends: Kevin Boss has replaced Jeremy Shockey since week 15 and while he had 50 yards on four catches against the Patriots, he only had three catches for 33 yards over the last two weeks. He's not making anyone forget about Shockey but can figure in when needed.

Shockey was the leading receiver for the Giants in the previous meeting with the Packers when he caught five passes for 60 yards.

Match Against the Defense: The question here is how are these teams different now than they were in week two? The Giants are obviously playing at a high level these last two weeks - their defense as much as their offense - but the Packers are at home and as healthy as they have been all year.

The cold weather suggests more rushing is likely but the Packers defense has been outstanding against the run at home. They allowed only two rushing scores this year and never more than 87 yards to any runner. With Jacobs and Bradshaw sharing, neither are likely to have many yards though Jacobs could end up with a score if the ball ends up at the one-yard line.

Manning faces a defense that has been great against the two primary wideouts and weak against tight ends. Like the first game, he'll likely end up using his tight end more this week only it will be Kevin Boss instead of Shockey. Fortunately, Steve Smith has started to show up more as well since he can play the slot and should see decent numbers but Burress and Toomer were already shut down the first time and the Packers corners are a strength of the defense.

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Green Bay Packers (12-3)
Homefield: Lambeau Field
  Opp Score Spread Over/Under
1 PHI 16-13 +3 43.5
2 @NYG 35-13 +2.5 38.5
3 SD 31-24 +5 43
4 @MIN 23-16 -1 38
5 CHI 20-27 -3 41
6 WAS 17-14 -3 40.5
7 BYE - - -
8 @DEN 19-13 +3 44
9 @KC 33-22 +2.5 38.5
10 MIN 34-0 -6.5 40.5
11 CAR 31-17 -10 37.5
12 @DET 37-26 -3.5 48
13 @DAL 27-37 +6.5 52
14 OAK 38-7 -10.5 42
15 @STL 33-14 -9.5 44
16 @CHI 7-35 -8 40
17 DET 34-13 -3 37
P2 SEA 42-20 -8 41.5
P3 NYG   -7 41
GBP vs NYG Rush Catch Pass
QB Brett Favre     180,2
RB Ryan Grant 120,2 10  
TE Donald Lee   30  
WR Donald Driver   50,1  
WR Greg Jennings   60,1  
WR James Jones   20  
PK Mason Crosby 1 FG 4 XP  

Pregame Notes: The Packers have lost only three games this year. One came in Dallas when Favre was injured. The other two almost inexplicably were against the Chicago Bears who relied on great defense and special teams despite never enjoying that success against almost any other team this year. But so far, the Packers are 8-1 at Lambeau and have won each of the last six home games. While this is the NFL's youngest team, it is lead by the oldest starting quarterback who is having a rather magical season locking up any and all significant career passing records. And the rushing game that was absent has flourished with the ex-Giant Ryan Grant. And no less important, the Packers bring one of the most underrated defenses into this game that has only allowed 15 points per visitor this year.

Quarterback: Brett Favre passed for 286 yards and three scores in the first meeting with the Giants and has passed for at least two scores in all but one home game this year. Favre only passed for 173 yards last week but still had three touchdowns against the vaunted Seattle secondary. Balanced with a rushing game that demands attention by the defense, Favre is rather enjoying his season as long as the Bears are not around.

Running Backs: Ryan Grant was an undrafted running back out of Notre Dame that the Giants traded to the Packers in exchange for their sixth round pick in the 2008 NFL draft. Ends up that the Packers got the better end of that deal unless the Giants really get really lucky with a sixth round pick. The back that is only making $310,000 this year just rushed for a Packers post-season record of 201 yards and three touchdowns against the Seahawks. In the first meeting, the Packers beat the Giants handily in New York while getting only 35 yards on 17 rushes by Brandon Jackson while DeShawn Wynn scored twice on his ten carries for 50 yards. Grant brings a lot more to the table this week in Green Bay than Wynn and Jackson offered in New York back in week two.

Wide Receivers: Greg Jennings is merely the latest iteration of Favre-created stud wideouts and after scoring 12 times in the regular season, he added two more last week when he turned in six catches for 71 yards against the visiting Seahawks. While Donald Driver, James Jones, Ruvell Martin and even Koren Robinson support the passing game, it is Jennings who has been nearly unstoppable this year.

In the previous meeting with the Giants, Driver caught eight passes for 73 yards and a score while James Jones had four receptions for 75 yards. That was only one of two scores by Driver this year and was missed by Jennings who was held out for the first two weeks.

Tight Ends: Donald Lee hasn't been very productive in the last month but back in week two he had four catches for 35 yards and one score against the Giants. He has fallen from the game plan with the rushing game taking such a big chunk of the offense.

Match Against the Defense: The Packers already beat the Giants - in New York - and yet did not have either Jennings or Grant in that game. That doesn't bode well for the Giants at all. But the G-Men have been playing with all new determination and effectiveness so it's not one to one with a game that happened 18 weeks ago.

The cold weather should play some role in this game and should see Grant relied on no less than last week. The Giants have been decent against the run but Marion Barber just turned in 129 yards and a score last week. Look for a healthy game here by Grant with the added bonus of screwing the team that had him and did not want him.

Favre has not played all that great in cold weather despite his lengthy history and this is going to be a cold one. Look for him to throw for likely one score and possibly two but Grant and the defense will be leading the way this week.

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