Pack vs. Giants Preview; Are 49ers or Saints Easier to Face on Road to Super Bowl?
Things I’ve learned while watching ESPN this week:
- I still want to punt kick Skip Bayless like Baxter for his blatant bias against anything Aaron Rodgers.
- Stephen Smith continues to be my favorite analyst. Bonus: he looks like Ludacris.
- Does anyone know ANYTHING about football? Because, you keep picking the Giants and think the Saints will be the ones to top Green Bay.
- I’m calling bullshit on this theory that the G-Men thrive on being underdogs. Guess what? So do the Pack. And if you’ve read anything this week, you know that everyone thinks the Giants will top the Pack.
But, I digress. So let’s break it down for this weekend.
Poor QB1. He looks like he’s about to go all Hulk on anyone who keeps comparing this game to 2007. Has anyone even looked at the rosters and compared? Besides Rodgers, there are only 13 players left who played a prominent role in the 2007 game.
The only way the Giants even have a prayer against the Pack is if they build a consistent pass rush at the base 4. Pierre-Paul is a beast, with 16.5 sacks and being legit against the run. JPP had six sacks in Games 12-16, and eight tackles against Atlanta. Add in Tuck and Osi, and the defensive unit has only allowed 14 points in each of the past two wins and had a total of 11 sacks, 13 QB hits and three interceptions. Safety play will also come in to focus this game. Time to step up, Burnett.
What Manning version will actually show up? Sure, Eli has put up his best numbers this season (4,933 yards, 29 TDs) with 277 yards and 3 TDs in the opening round of the playoffs. In the December game, our last-ranked passing defense let Manning gain 347 yards and 3 TDs. I’m not in the thought that he can match Rodgers in throws or yardage. Our offensive line is too powerful, with too much depth at receiver. We have, at any given moment, 6 receivers to choose from.
Yes, I put Jermichael Finley in that group, since I don’t really view him as solely a TE. If he can just get consistent, I expect him to be a factor. Another factor? Randall Cobb. He accounted for 1/3 of fumbles in regular season. The kid has talent, and if he can keep calm, expect special teams to be a major factor as well.
Do I think Sad Eli will show up because its Lambeau, it being January or homefield crowd? Hell, no. Manning has proven he can handle that, but he hasn’t proven that he can be consistent for games. His front line is similar to 2007, but he’s got to be able to spearhead it.
Lots of murmurs about Newhouse not being prepared for this game. His problem? Speed rushers such as JPP, Hali and Jared Allen. He can definitely be consistent, but I bet Clifton will start since he has a history in the playoffs. Clifton also has a better history against this type of player, so I expect him to line up at left tackle.
Saints vs. 49ers
This is the part where I admit Kurt Bradley is infinitely wise about football and his thought that Pack should be concerned more about facing 49ers over Saints if Pack beat the G-Men this weekend.
At first, I thought he was crazy. But – I got to thinking about it, so see my thoughts below.
Dude, Drew Brees sucks on grass. He’s fine on turf and in a dome, but put him on grass, and then add outside conditions at Lambeau in January? He’s going to fail, and hard. Saints faced Jags, Carolina, Bucs, Titans and Green Bay on grass. Only Green Bay beat them, but come on. The other teams are less than stellar, and if Breesy couldn’t beat them, then that’d be a major concern. On grass, Saints have scored just nine touchdowns, all in the air, and just 13 points per game against teams on grass fields.
The Saints kill indoors and on turf, averaging 41 points per game in the Superdome. On the road? They have a 5-3 record and average of just 27 points a game. If the Saints can blitz similar to the way they did against Stafford (more than 50 percent – Pack blitz around 39 percent), they’ll have a major chance to beat the 49ers.
Why should we be concerned if we face the 49ers?
- Their offense makes a mediocre at best QB look good. And win. Smith has been sacked a league-high 44 times. That’s ONE sack every 11 pass plays. Insane.
- Also insane: Smith’s stats are completion percentage (61.4), passing yards (3,144) and passer rating (90.7). WTF?
- 49ers have a legit running game, running the ball 31 times per game in the regular season.
- With Frank Gore at the helm, they ranked eighth in league averaging 127.8 rushing yards. Gore is the NFL’s all-time leading rusher without postseason appearance. (7,625 career yards)
- Gore ran for 1,211 yards and eight touchdowns this season.
- 14 rushing touchdowns in the season. Might seem small, but it can be significant in a game against the Pack and our defense.
- Harbaugh scares the effing crap out of me as a coach. He’s that good.
So, what do you think? Ready for this weekend? My picks: Pats, Texans, 49ers, Pack.
Fingers crossed Saints pull it off though.