Why the Giants have no chance

He's not trying to jinx the Green Bay Packers, but PackerReport.com's Matt Tevsh lists a number of reasons why the New York Giants have absolutely no chance of winning Sunday's NFC title game at Lambeau Field.

Like the Seahawks last week, the Giants seem to be the trendy pick to pull off an upset in the NFL playoffs this week.

After all, they are coming off a big upset of the No. 1 seeded Cowboys last Sunday and have won nine straight games on the road.

Their quarterback, Eli Manning, has shown improvement along with the team's offense while defensive ends Michael Strahan and Osi Umenyiora lead one of the most feared pass rushes in the NFL.

The Giants are on a roll and appear to have the mental toughness and wherewithal to win in a tough environment like Lambeau Field, so just what exactly are their chances when they take on the No. 2 seeded Packers (14-3) for the NFC Championship on Sunday night?

This scribe says slim and none – and slim might exit Lambeau Field sooner rather than later.

Based on how far they have come this season the Giants are a team to be respected, but anyway the match-ups are analyzed, a double-digit margin of victory seems to be likely for the Packers.

An examination of the big picture will show that the Packers are on more of a roll than the Giants, and they are playing with more confidence than at any time this season. They have won four of their last five games by an average of more than 23 points and dating back to last season have won an incredible 18 of 21 games with much of the same roster.

On the road this season, the Packers are 6-2, winning not only at the Meadowlands against the Giants (35-13 in Week 2), but also in some of the NFL's toughest environments (see Minnesota, Denver, and Kansas City). The Packers are battle-tested as much as if not more so than the Giants and are ready to take the Giants' best shot.

Just five days ago, the Packers were faced with perhaps their most adversity all year and responded with their most dominating performance all year. The effort spoke volumes for a young team that had not been tested with such a challenge in an elimination game.

Falling behind 14-0 to the Seahawks less than five minutes into the game, the Packers kept their composure and stuck with their game plan. Then they proceeded to pummel their opposition into the snowy turf on both sides of the ball. Even 38-year old Brett Favre showed progress, not forcing the issue in a big game like he has many times done in the past. The result of such poise was a 42-20 victory, a similar margin which might just be in store for the Giants this week.

"We feel good about where we are," said Packers' coach Mike McCarthy on Wednesday. "We made the mistakes early (against the Seahawks), which I think was a benefit to us because we played at an extremely high level after that. We went through the grades with the football team this morning, just the overall grades, and we pretty much have pluses across the board. We lost the turnover ratio, the only negative. So I don't know if it gives you more bounce, but to play at that level is something that we can point to, draw from, as we move into this week."

As for Manning, like his coach Tom Coughlin, Giants' fans were ready to throw him under the bus early in the year. Statistically, his season was average to poor, but in the last two weeks (playoff wins against the Buccaneers and Cowboys) he has avoided the big mistake and managed the game well.

Unfortunately, managing the game well will not do much this week. Manning will face arguably the toughest defense and environment he has seen all year and will need to make plays. The Packers have favorable match-ups for nearly every individual battle, and the Giants, without Jeremy Shockey (who is on injured reserve), lack a dynamic play-maker at tight end.

The other Achilles' heel on the Packers' defense, if some would even consider it such, might be the run defense. They will be faced with a big challenge going up against the combo of Brandon Jacobs (1,011 yards rushing during the regular season) and Ahmad Bradshaw, but they should be more than ready. Allowing only 28 yards on 18 carries to the Seahawks last week, and with a crowd that is sure to be rocking Lambeau to its foundation, the Giants are running into a lion's den.

With game-time temperatures forecasted in the single digits but only a slight wind, the weather is being talked about but should not be a big factor in the game. It really favors no team over the other.

"We have no way of controlling that, just as we didn't when we went to Buffalo, just as we didn't when we went to Chicago, so we will practice outside today and we will do whatever we think is necessary from that standpoint," said Giants' head coach Tom Coughlin on Wednesday. "We need to focus on the Green Bay Packers team, which is a very good football team."

The Giants will look to their pass rush to lead their upset hopes. They led the NFL in sacks (53) during the regular season and harassed Cowboys' quarterback Tony Romo in the divisional playoff game into one of his worse games of the year.

The Packers should have an answer to the all-star defensive end combo of Strahan and Umenyiora with tackles Chad Clifton and Mark Tauscher. As Seahawks' Pro Bowl defensive end Patrick Kerney and the rest of his defensive line mates found out, Clifton and Tauscher show up to work every week regardless of whom they are up against. The two have really not allowed an opposing end to dramatically influence a game in years, so it is not likely to happen this week.

The Packers also have the edge in the health department. Outside of cornerback/return specialist Will Blackmon (foot), a full complement of players should be ready to go, appearing fresher from a year-long schedule aimed at rest and recovery.

The Giants are day-to-day with at least a few key players. Starting cornerbacks Sam Madison (stomach) and Aaron Ross (shoulder) are hurting. Backup cornerback Kevin Dockery (hip flexor) did not practice on Wednesday. Those injuries to the Giants' secondary certainly will not help against the Packers' multiple wide receiver formations.

Wide receiver Plaxico Burress has a high ankle sprain and right tackle Kareem McKenzie (ankle) was also listed on the injury report.

Clearly, the Packers have all the advantages, including being overlooked as one of the league's hottest teams, and prepared to handle almost any situation. This game is theirs and they know it, and there is not much the Giants can do about it.

Bring on the Super Bowl!

Matt Tevsh is a regular contributor to PackerReport.com and Packer Report magazine. E-mail him at matttevsh@hotmail.com.

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