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There Are No Instruction Manuals for Beating Green Bay

Is there a simple plan that leads to a Giants win on Sunday?

By Josh Alper
|  Wednesday, Jan 11, 2012  |  Updated 1:43 PM EDT
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There Are No Instruction Manuals for Beating Green Bay

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You can point a team in the right direction, but you can't make them win.

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Everyone seems to be pretty convinced that the Giants have a chance at beating the Packers on Sunday in Lambeau Field.

Since only one team has actually been able to pull off such a feat in the last 22 Packers games, it seems like asking just how you do that is a good question. 

The Giants would seem to have provided their own blueprint to a victory on Dec. 4 when they came up 58 seconds short of taking the then-unbeaten Packers to overtime. They pressured Aaron Rodgers enough to force some bad throws, bottled up the running game and picked apart an iffy secondary to the tune of 35 points.

It wasn't enough to come up with a win, but it was close enough that a play here or a play there could lead to a different result. With the defense and running game in even better shape than they were last month, trying to win another shootout seems like a good idea.

The only problem with that notion is that the only team to actually beat the Packers this year didn't do it by outgunning them. The Chiefs won in Week 15 by doing the exact opposite thing.

Kansas City slowed the game down, running the ball time and time again so that Rodgers had fewer opportunities to light them up in the passing game. When the Packers did have the ball, the Chiefs were able to generate enough pressure off the edge with Tamba Hali to keep Rodgers from playing as well as he did most of the season.

So playing a shootout, as the Giants and a few other teams did this season, is enough to get you close. To actually win the game, though, it isn't just enough to hope that you can figure out a way to outscore a quarterback playing as well as any in history. You've got to actually keep him off the scoreboard.

Ah, but those Kansas City results are a bit misleading. When the Packers lost to the Chiefs, they were playing without wide receiver Greg Jennings, run-stopping defensive tackle Ryan Pickett and both of their starting offensive tackles.

Pulling off the same kind of ball control/knock Rodgers around with impunity game is a bit more difficult when the Packers are actually in position to stop it from happening. That's not to say that the Giants shouldn't try to do those things, because they tend to be pretty good ways to win games against all opposition but, unlike what some observers would have you believe, it's not just enough to say that the Chiefs have told the world how to beat the Packers.

The truth is, things aren't as easy as a blueprint because every game develops organically from the one before. You can get an idea of tendencies and expected outcomes, but it is inane to suggest that doing A will always lead to B, C and D.

As always, the best prescription is that the Giants come up with a plan predicated on their strengths. Thinking too much beyond that puts too much power onto the other side of ball and the Giants won't win if they aren't able to play their game to the best of their abilities.

Josh Alper is a writer living in New York City. You can follow him on Twitter and he is also a contributor to Pro Football Talk.

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