LT Chad Clifton and RT Bryan Bulaga vs. DEs Justin Tuck, Osi Umenyiora and Jason Pierre-Paul: The Giants rank second in the league with 42 sacks, thanks in no small measure to their productive linemen. Tuck and Umenyiora form the league's top sack tandem with 10 apiece. Tuck is on a tear with six sacks in the last five games, and he will be primarily matched up against rookie Bulaga, who had a costly missed assignment that resulted in a sack and foiled a potential game-winning drive by the Packers in the loss at New England on Sunday. Umenyiora and Pierre-Paul rotate at right end and will clash with Clifton. While Umenyiora has made little impact of late with just two sacks in eight games, Pierre-Paul has emerged in the second half of his rookie season with all 4.5 of his sacks in the last four games and four pass deflections in the last three outings.
WR Greg Jennings vs. CBs Corey Webster and Terrell Thomas: The Packers badly need a big game from Jennings, who had the game-changing drop against Detroit and a quiet game at New England on the heels of a seven-game streak of at least six catches. Thomas has five interceptions (not to mention four forced fumbles) while Webster has four interceptions. They're both beneficiaries of the Giants' hellacious pass rush. Aaron Rodgers might not have time to hit Jennings deep, so Jennings will have to make plays with his legs.
MATCHUPS TO WATCH: PACKERS ON DEFENSE
Woodson and Williams
Paul Sancya/AP Images
LBs Desmond Bishop and A.J. Hawk vs. RB Ahmad Bradshaw: No offense to burly Brandon Jacobs, who has rushed for 727 yards and is averaging a whopping 5.8 yards per attempt, but Bradshaw is the man to watch. Jacobs and Bradshaw split the work on first and second down, but Bradshaw — who ranks second in the NFC with 1,182 rushing yards — is the man on third down with his 40 receptions. Bradshaw, however, has put the ball on the ground six times (five lost). Bishop has forced two fumbles this year while Hawk hasn't forced a fumble since 2007.
THE PACKERS WILL WIN IF ...
... Their running game produces like last week. If some combination of Brandon Jackson, John Kuhn, James Starks and Dimitri Nance can match the productivity of the New England game, that will be a huge asset in keeping Rodgers on his feet and out of too many sure passing situations.
THE PACKERS WILL LOSE IF ...
... They can't protect Rodgers. Plain and simple, if Tuck, Umenyiora and Pierre-Paul win their matchups against Clifton and Tauscher — and aggressive defensive coordinator Perry Fewell can outsmart Rodgers — the Packers have no chance.
THE GIANTS WILL WIN IF ...
... Their talented offensive line can beat the Packers' depleted defensive line and open holes for Bradshaw and Jacobs. The Packers' rushing defense ranks a disappointing 19th after leading the league last year, but this is the kind of power-vs.-power matchup the Packers have been designed to win.
THE GIANTS WILL LOSE IF ...
... They haven't gotten past last week's loss to Philadelphia. That's the million-dollar question entering this game. If the Giants are unable to move past that three-touchdown meltdown and focus on this huge game, the focused Packers are going to roll.
Cut through everything else and it comes down to turnovers. The Giants lead the NFL with 34 takeaways but they're also tied for the most giveaways with 35. Rodgers' track record says he'll avoid the interceptions and sack-strips that the Giants have thrived on. The Packers' defensive track record says that unit will make Manning and Bradshaw pay for their lax ball security. Packers 23, Giants 20.
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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/packerreport and Facebook under Bill Huber.