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Butler's Breakdown: Packers vs. Giants


This week's game against the New York Giants is a game that will again feature two very potent offenses.

The Giants offense is mainly built around four players.

First, quarterback Kurt Warner, who comes a Green Bay pedigree - he spent his first training camp in the NFL with the Packers in 1994 - and then he went on to play in NFL Europe and then with the St. Louis Rams, where he had a great career. He was the both the MVP of the league and MVP of the Super Bowl when he won a championship.

Now he's in New York and he won the starting job over #1 pick Eli Manning. This guy has been through a lot and he's the main focus of the Giants offense. He's throwing the ball very well. Tom Coughlin has said that he's stepped up and made the big throws when needed.

Amani Toomer is a big receiver, a big target who loves to catch the ball on a lot of deep routes. He runs a lot of seam routes, where he'll run 15 or 16 yards down the field and turn towards the post. That's a similar route that the Packers had trouble defending against Indianapolis.

Their tight end is a focal point and the Packers have to take him out of their offense - Jeremy Shockey. Whenever he's in on third down, you have to get the right match-up, because they're going to try to get him the ball, especially in the red zone. They like to split him out by himself and get a safety or linebacker on him and they throw the ball up and he uses his height and strong leaping ability to go up and get the ball.

The Giants offensive line has been an Achilles heel for them the last few years. Hopefully the Packers d-line will get out of their sack funk and put some pressure on Warner. Looking at last year, when the Rams played the Giants, they got seven sacks on Warner, so he's proven to have some trouble against pressure. If the Packers can put some pressure on Warner, I think they will force him into some errant throws.

Tiki Barber is a very quiet superstar. He's capable of getting 1,000 yards rushing or 1,000 yards receiving in a season - he's that good of a player. He's their focal point when it comes to running the ball.

Inside the red zone and in short yardage, a local favorite from the University of Wisconsin, Ron Dayne, who has lost a considerable amount of weight and is in the best shape of his career, can run the ball with a lot of power. I think their two backs complement each other well.

The main thing about playing the Giants is if you can force them to turn the ball over, you can get control of the game. Tiki Barber has had a slew of fumbles in the past, so look for the Packers to definitely be stripping at the ball this week.

For the Giants defense, their strong safety Shaun Williams will be out for the game and the year, so they will be going with a rookie in his place. Their two cornerbacks are very talented, but at the same time, I think the Packers match up well with their defense.

The Giants defense is obviously built around Michael Strahan, who has three sacks so far and continues to show up every week. He'll be going up against Mark Tauscher.

The Packers offense has been very aggressive lately. Tom Rossley has done a very good job calling the plays and keeping the balance. They are definitely a run first team, but if you overplay the run, Brett Favre has shown what he can do. He can get the ball down the field and still make all the great throws.

I know he's a little sore from his hamstring bruise, but he'll be able to make all the throws and move out of the pocket when he needs to.

Mike Flanagan going out for the season is a big blow to the offensive line, but I think Grey Ruegamer will be able to do a good job in his place. He worked with the starters all through training camp and had a good preseason, so the Packers should be OK there.

Ahman Green has to control the line of scrimmage and break some runs into the secondary. Once you get into the Giants secondary, they don't tackle very well. I could see Green breaking some tackles and going a long way - maybe even breaking a 50-yard run.

The key to this game is on third down. The Packers have to convert on third down. Tony Fisher comes into the game and does a great job of picking up the blitz. If he can get isolated on one of their linebackers or safeties, he can also do a good job of catching some passes to keep a drive going.

The Packers need to convert at least 65% on third downs and hold the Giants to under 35%.

I think the home fans at Lambeau Field are anxious to see how the Packers will bounce back from last week's loss. It's up to the leaders on this team to get the team going and get the younger guys focused - let them know that it's a long season.

Even though you're 1-2, a win this week will have them back at .500 and back in the race. The Packers know the magnitude of this game and they realize that going 1-3 is unacceptable.

There's a difference between a must-win game and a gotta-win game. A must-win is a game you need to be able to get into the playoffs. A gotta-win is a game you need to keep from digging yourself into a big hole.

This one's definitely a gotta-win for the Packers.

*LeRoy Butler played 12 seasons for the Green Bay Packers, helping them to two Super Bowls and earning NFL All-Decade Honors for the 1990s, before retiring in July 2002. This season Butler is again providing exclusive analysis to beginning with training camp and later with a breakdown of the upcoming game on Saturdays, followed by a column and Q&A session on Tuesdays during the preseason and regular season.

Butler's autobiography, 'The LeRoy Butler Story ... From Wheelchair to the Lambeau Leap,' is available on his website,*

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