As the buildup for Sunday's NFC Divisional playoff game between the New York Giants and Green Bay Packers continues, let's take a position-by-position look at the defensive units for both teams.
First, some overall numbers:
- Giants (27th overall, regular season): 376.4 yards per game allowed, 25.0 points per game allowed.
- Packers (32nd overall, regular season): 411.6 yards allowed, 22.4 points per game allowed.
Now, let's go position-by-position and see where each team may have an advantage.
The New York Giants defense is built around its defensive line, in particular its three pass-rushing defensive ends. Jason Pierre-Paul emerged this season and was named All-Pro after registering 16.5 sacks and 86 tackles in his second season. Veteran multiple-time Pro Bowlers Justin Tuck and Osi Umenyiora are both healthy now after difficults seasons, and form a fearsome three-man rotations with Pierre-Paul.
On the inside, tackles Chris Canty, Linval Joseph and Rocky Bernard have all played well.
The Packers use a 3-4, and Pro Bowl nose tackle B.J. Raji is the anchor. Ryan Pickett and Jarius Wynn man the ends.
The Giants have improved this season at linebacker. Michael Boley has had a nice season with 93 tackles, Mathias Kiwanuka has adjusted nicely to being back at linebacker and is a run-stopping force, veteran Chase Blackburn came off the street mid-season and has solidified the middle, and rookie Jacquian Williams has shown flashes of brilliance.
The Packers play a 3-4 with linebackers like Desmond Bishop (115 tackles, five sacks), Clay Matthews (50 tackles, six sacks, nine passes defensed, three interceptions) and A.J. Hawks (84 tackles, 1.5 sacks
Green Bay has a ball-hawking secondary that led the league in interceptions with 31. Charles Woodson had seven and Tramon Williams four. The Packers, though, were last in the league in passing yardages allowed, surrendering 299.8 per game. They also surrendered a league-worst 71 plays of 20 yards or more.
The Giants have the excellent Corey Webster (six interceptions) teamed with Aaron Ross. Safety Antrel Rolle plays in the slot at times, and rookie first-round pick Prince Amukamara is in reserve. The Giants were 29th in the league against the pass, giving up 255.1 yards per game.
Advantage: Even .. The Giants may have the better coverage guys, but the Packers have the play-makers.
The Giants often employ three safeties, with Kenny Phillips, Antrel Rolle (96 tackles, two interceptions) and Deon Grant on the field at the same time. At times, Grant or Rolle can be positioned as a third linebacker. At other times, Rolle will be covering a slot receiver. The talent and versatility of this trio is a huge help to the Giants defense.
The Packers have strong safety Morgan Burnett (107 tackles, three interceptions) and Charles Peprah (94 tackles, five interceptions.