2012 NFL Odds and Picks: Green Bay Packers @ New York Giants Predictions – Week 12 Sunday Night Football Picks

2012 Week 12 NFL Picks: Green Bay Packers @ New York Giants Vegas Odds and Predictions – Free NFL Picks 11/25/2012: The winners of the last two Super Bowls will meet Sunday night when the Green Bay Packers (7-3) go on the road to face the New York Giants (6-4). Both teams enter this matchup sitting atop their respective divisions, but while Green Bay brings a five-game winning streak into Sunday’s meeting, New York has dropped two straight. The teams last met in the playoffs last season when the Giants knocked off the 15-1 Packers, and this weekend’s game could end up being a playoff preview, as well. Not surprisingly, oddsmakers are expecting a close one between two franchises that have enjoyed a lot of success in recent years. Playing at home, the Giants are 1 ½-point favorites.

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Offensively, the two teams share similar pass-first philosophies. Defending MVP Aaron Rodgers leads Green Bay’s attack, and despite an injury to his top receiver Greg Jennings, he leads the NFL in quarterback rating and is second with 27 touchdowns. Eli Manning on the other hand has had his ups and down this year. He is actually averaging more yards per game than Rodgers, but he has just 12 touchdowns compared to 11 interceptions. Manning has two excellent receivers to work with in Victor Cruz and Hakeem Nicks, but for whatever reason, he has had his share of off games. Overall, both offenses are averaging just over 26 points per game, but Green Bay has been more consistent. The Packers have scored less 20 points or less just once while the Giants have scored 20 points per or less four times.

Defensively, both teams have been better at stopping the run than stopping the pass, and both are allowing right around 21 points a game to opponents. The biggest difference between the two units is that the Packers have been better at rushing the passer while the Giants have been more opportunistic. Green Bay enters Sunday’s matchup ranked second in the league with 33.0 sacks. Meanwhile, the Giants rank second in the NFL in interceptions, picking off 17 passes to date. If there is a surprise for either defense it is that New York’s normally stout pass rush has been just average thus far this year.

The Packers Win If:

While Rodgers and the Packers’ high-scoring offense get the headlines, Green Bay’s play in the trenches will be crucial in this game. Yes, a big performance from Rodgers certainly won’t hurt the cause, but the offensive line needs to keep him upright in order for that to happen. Rodgers has been sacked an NFL-high 32 times, and if the Packers allow the Giants to get pressure on the pocket while rushing just four players, New York will be able to mask its issues in the secondary. Meanwhile, Green Bay’s own pass rush needs to have a strong showing. The Packers are catching Manning in the middle of a slump, and the best way to keep him struggling is to get in his face early and often. If Green Bay gets its pass rush rolling while shutting down New York’s pressure, the Packers are going to be in great shape.

The Giants Win If:

Plain and simple, Manning has to wake up from his mini slump if the Giants are going to win. Even with their much-improved pass rush, the Packers still struggle to defend the pass. With Nicks and Cruz at his disposal, Manning has to carve up the Green Bay secondary and put a good chunk of points on the board. Meanwhile, New York’s pass rush needs to wake up, as well. Pass protection has been an issue for the Packers, and if the Giants can harass Rodgers in the pocket, they can disrupt Green Bay’s vaunted passing attack. If New York can win the battle at the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball, Manning and company can outscore the Packers and pick up the win.

Bottom Line:

When the Giants upset the Packers at Lambeau Field in the playoffs last year, they were able to disrupt Rodgers and the Green Bay passing attack by getting a ton of pressure on the pocket with their defensive line. Despite mediocre numbers thus far, Justin Tuck, Jason Pierre-Paul and the rest of New York’s defensive front should get healthy against a Green Bay offensive line that has had protection issues all season. When Seattle held the Packers to just 12 points early in the year, the Seahawks absolutely assaulted Rodgers. New York will use a similar strategy Sunday, and they still have the pieces to do it. Meanwhile, the big stages seem to bring out the best in Manning, and the stage doesn’t get much bigger than attempting to snap a two-game losing streak while facing a team like the Packers with the postseason looming. Yes, Green Bay has the momentum, but the Giants are at their best when their backs are against the wall. Manning and the New York pass rush wake up, and the Giants come out on top in a back-and-forth contest.

Prediction: New York Giants (-3) Cover the Spread 

Green Bay Packers @ New York Giants
Line: NY Giants -3
Total: Over/Under 51.5
Time: 8:30 PM EST on NBC

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