GREEN BAY—TV made a mistake. They shouldn't have flexed out of the Packers-Giants game. This one, as it turns out, has real meaning and might be one of those pivotal games that defines the second half of the season.
Denver at Kansas City has replaced Packers at Giants in prime time this Sunday. I get it; 8-1 vs. 9-0 for the AFC West lead. Good one, but it's not Packers-Giants, which has become a great one.
This has become a late-season ritual. This has become a late-season rite of passage, going back to that timeless classic the two teams played at Lambeau Field in the 2007 NFC title game.
Three years later, the Packers had to beat the Giants to make it into the playoffs. It was a game that would become the first of six consecutive wins that carried the Packers to the Super Bowl XLV title.
The following year, in New York, the Packers kicked a walk-off field goal to score one of the most dramatic wins of the 2011 regular season. A few weeks later, the Giants ended the Packers' season, again, with a playoff win at Lambeau Field.
Last year, the Giants blew out the Packers at MetLife Stadium.
Since the 2007 NFC title game, the two teams have played each other five times. All of them have been late-season games and the Giants have won three of them.
This Sunday's game is of critical importance. Somebody's season is going to take a dramatic turn for the worse. This is the kind of game that can help define a team's season. The 2010 game did that for the Packers. The 2007 and 2011 games did that for the Giants.
I'm not clairvoyant, but if I was the TV executive making the call on Broncos-Chiefs or Packers-Giants, I'd take Packers-Giants. It has history on its side.
Here are 10 things the Packers have to do to beat the Giants.
1. Intercept Eli Manning—That's been the formula for beating the Giants this season. Manning has thrown 16 interceptions. The Packers have only intercepted three passes. Something has to give.
2. Run the ball—It's how you protect a quarterback making the first start of his pro career.
3. Ignore the stats—No. 32 in sacks per pass play? When haven't the Giants rushed the Packers?
4. Sense the urgency—A showdown with the Lions is dead ahead, but the Packers must stay within a game of the Lions for the Packers to underscore that game's importance.
5. Make big plays—That hasn't happened often enough the past two weeks.
6. Stop Victor Cruz—He's the Giants' playmaker. Stop him and you stop the Giants.
7. Know the score—The Lions and Bears play early games. The circumstances will be crystal clear to the Packers when they take the field on Sunday.
8. Make field goals—That's a must for a team trying to find a way to win behind a quarterback who just two weeks ago was on the practice squad.
9. Win turnover battle—The Giants are -13, the worst takeaway/giveaway net in the league. The Packers are -4. In a battle of the minuses, the team with a plus will likely win.
10. Execute the scheme—Two guys must be able to cover one. Additional coverage - Nov. 14