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key players

There is nothing more annoying than hearing a fan say: "the only team that can beat [my team] is [my team]," implying that said team is so dominant that the only way they could possibly lose is by shooting themselves in the foot. If the opposing team is able to upset the favorite, this arrogant mantra downplays the opposing team's accomplishments by implying they were lucky enough to be the beneficiary of the far superior team's mistakes.

Surely, there were tons of Packers and Saints fans that felt this way this past weekend, and there will be Giants and 49ers fans that feel this way now. Fans of both teams are uttering the old phrase "if we play our A-game, it doesn't matter who we're playing." But what if both teams play their A-games?

Tags: 49ers, giants, key players, New York Giants, preview
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If the Giants are going to have any shot at upsetting the defending champs, they're going to need to get positive performances from some key players. I'm not talking about the obvious guys like Eli Manning or the defensive linemen; if those guys don't play near perfect games, the Giants have no shot. I'm talking about the guys who can be the X-factor like the David Tyree and Kevin Boss in Super Bowl 42.

Aaron Ross and Prince Amukamara

Neither of these guys are lacking in talent. Ross has had an up-and-down season, showing flashes of first round brilliance, but he has struggled even more consistently. Amukamara has had a rough go of it in his rookie season due to injuries and lack of practice time. Whether or not the defensive line can get to Aaron Rodgers, these guys are going to have their hands full trying to contain the Packers' impressive stable of receivers.

Tags: giants, key players, New York Giants, packers, preview, x-factors
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Aaron Rodgers

Look, we all enjoyed that first "discount double-check" commercial. The idea behind the ad isn't great, but the actors have solid delivery and Aaron Rodgers has his own goofy charm. But this new one? Just awful. State Farm should have just quit while they were ahead instead of making this Godfather: Part III-esque sequel. And BJ Raji? Seriously, that's the best they could do? They couldn't have gotten one of the 100 more famous football players, or one of the five more famous Green Bay Packers? There are just so many things wrong with this commercial, none bigger than the fact that it just isn't funny.

BJ Raji

Tags: discount double check, giants, key players, New York Giants, packers, preview
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Matt Ryan

They call him "Matty Ice" because he literally has ice flowing through his veins. It is a serious, yet treatable medical condition, but it also allows him to remain calm and undaunted in close, fourth quarter situations. Like Eli Manning, Ryan has been known to put his team on his back and lead them to late, game-winning drives. The Giants need to keep dialing up the pressure to beat their third "Ryan" in three weeks.

Sean Weatherspoon

Tags: Falcons, giants, key players, New York Giants, preview
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Cowboys That Scare Me: Round 1

Tony Romo

The Pro Bowl snub was electric the last time these teams met, completing 21 of 31 passes for 321 yards, 4 touchdowns and no interceptions. The Giants' secondary played much better last week, and the return of Osi Umenyiora should help pressure the quarterback, but if he's healthy, Romo is someone who could put the offense on his back. If he's not healthy, I'm worried that NBC will show numerous close-ups of his disgusting, sausage-sized fingers. Gross.

Tags: cowboys, giants, key players, New York Giants, preview
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Darrelle Revis

I'm not really worried that Revis will totally shut down Hakeem Nicks, who needs to have a big game to make up for his blunderous performance against the Redskins. If Eli Manning and Nicks are playing at their highest level, not even Revis can keep them quiet. What I'm more afraid of is that Manning will simply shy away from throwing in Revis' direction simply based on his reputation, as teams often seem to do against top cornerbacks. Giants receivers have said they are not afraid of Revis, which is the correct attitude.

For what it's worth, the series finale of "Lost" probably would have been a lot less disappointing had it taken place on Revis Island.

Tags: giants, Jets, key players, New York Giants, preview
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Brian Orakpo

What's scarier than a man who fraternizes with Neanderthals? Orakpo is the most dynamic player on either side of the ball for the Redskins, and is a menace on and off the Scrabble board. The last time these two teams faced off, Eli Manning was sacked four times. Overall, the Giants have given up the third least amount of sacks in the NFL, so that likely will not happen this time, but there's still the chance that Manning get's Orakpo'd once or twice.

Roy Helu

Tags: giants, key players, New York Giants, preview, redskins
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1. Aaron Rodgers

This is getting old, fast. Over the course of just over a month, the Giants have been tasked with stopping the NFL's three elite quarterbacks (and by the way, going by QB rating, they'll face the #4 quarterback in Tony Romo next week...). The results so far have been mixed: the Giants were able to create just enough pressure to disrupt Tom Brady and win a close game in New England, but were helpless against Drew Brees in the Superdome. Enter Aaron Rodgers, who is having one of the greatest seasons in NFL history.

Rodgers has completed 71.8% of his passes, and has 33 touchdowns to 4 interceptions and a ridiculous QB rating of 127.7. With at least two touchdown passes in each game thus far, Rodgers is playing as well as any quarterback I have ever seen. As is always the case with this defense, the key to stopping a great quarterback is creating pressure, something the Giants have not been able to do lately (one sack in their past two games).

Tags: giants, key players, New York Giants, packers, preview
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1. Drew Brees

You know the story; when playing the Saints, it all starts with Drew Brees. Like with Tom Brady three weeks ago and Aaron Rodgers next week (seriously, NFL? Why not have the Giants also face Joe Montana and Dan Marino in their prime?), the Giants' first goal must be to get pressure on Drew Brees.

Brees is not one of the easier quarterbacks to sack, as he is so often able to dump the ball off to one of his tight ends or running backs quickly enough to avoid pressure. The Giants' pass rush, which had been their strength earlier in the season, has only five sacks in their last three games. If they are going to have any chance at stopping the league's number one pass offense, Jason Pierre-Paul and Osi Umenyiora are going to have to make sure their names are called early and often.

Tags: giants, New Orleans Saints, New York Giants, three key players
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1. LeSean McCoy

McCoy has been the Eagles' best player this season bar none, and has arguably been the best running back in football. His 906 rushing yards are second only to Fred Jackson's 917, and he has scored a touchdown in every game so far (12 total touchdowns). The 23 year old sports a 5.5 yards per carry average, and will be the key to the Eagles' offense whether its Michael Vick, Vince Young or Mike Kafka under center.

The Giants' run defense has improved over the past couple of weeks, but McCoy is a whole different animal. The last time these two teams met, McCoy rushed 24 times for 128 yards and a touchdown, and he has already broken the Giants' back a couple times during his short career. The Eagles feature McCoy in a number of ways, including as a receiver out of the backfield and on quick tosses up the middle.

Tags: eagles, giants, New York Giants, three key players
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1. Frank Gore

(Note: Gore is questionable with an ankle injury)

Anyone who has watched the 2011 NFC West Champs (Yeah, it's just about official), this year knows that Frank Gore makes their offense go. Heck, anyone who has watched the Niners over the past five years knows that Gore is the key to their offense. Gore is having another fantastic year, with 782 yards, five touchdowns and an excellent 4.9 yards per carry.

Tags: 49ers, New York Giants, preview, san francisco, three key players
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1. Tom Brady

Gee, you think? I don't like to use my "key player" picks on someone so obvious, but when you're facing the Patriots, it all starts with Tom Brady.

The Patriots have the #2 passing attack in the NFL, and while it's arrogant to think the Giants can shut Tom Brady down, they do have the pass rushers to slow down the high flying Patriots.?You know the drill; get pressure with your front four so Brady isn't as effective. Easier said than done, but it worked in Super Bowl 42.

Tags: giants, key players, New York Giants, patriots, preview, week 9
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1. Cameron Wake

The former Nittany Lion is easily the most dangerous player on Miami's defense, with five of the teams 15 sacks thus far. The outside linebacker had 15 sacks last year, and has very quickly turned into one of the league's best pass rushers.

The Giants' offensive line did a great job of keeping Bills' defenders off of Eli Manning in their last game, but have had some breakdowns in protection this year. With David Baas and Chris Snee fully healthy, the pass blocking should be back to 100%. If the Dolphins have any chance of winning this game, they are going to need to get to Manning, and that all starts with Wake.

Tags: key players, Miami Dolphins, New York Giants
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1. Fred Jackson

When Bill Belichick goes out of his way to praise an opposing player on numerous occasions, chances are that he's a pretty good player.? That is the case with Fred Jackson, who is having his best season yet at age 30.?Jackson is third in the NFL with 480 yards, sporting a fantastic 5.3 yards per carry.

After being exposed by Beanie Wells and Marshawn Lynch the past two weeks, the Giants? run defense will have their hands full with the #4 rushing offense in the NFL. They are going to have to wrap up on every play, as Jackson is one of the best in the NFL at fighting for extra yards.

Tags: Buffalo Bills, key players, New York Giants
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1. Nnamdi Asomugha

The biggest prize of free agency, Asomugha spurned the Jets and Cowboys for the only team Giants fans hate more, the Eagles. The usual strategy for teams is to avoid throwing his way, which explains why arguably the best corner in the league has a combined three interceptions over his past four seasons. But this year, teams will be forced to pick their poison, as Asante Samuel and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie help to form a formidable (and expensive) trio. The Eagles know that Hakeem Nicks is the Giants' biggest weapon, so you can be sure we'll see plenty of Nicks vs. Asomugha. This matchup could go a long way in determining the outcome of the game.

Tags: eagles, giants, key players, New York Giants, New York Giants Blogs, New York Giants News
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1. Tony Romo

The Cowboys' offensive line has been criticized this year, but Tony Romo has only been sacked 7 times, third least in the NFL. ?Much of the reason for this is Romo's elusiveness. ?Opposing defensive lines have done a good job getting pressure, but Romo has been able to avoid the sack due to his mobility. ?However, under pressure, Romo has been known to make the occasional poor decision. ?The Giants defensive line has been piling up the sacks recently, but they do not need to wrap up the quarterback to be effective. ?The Giants need to continually pressure Romo and force him into throwing picks. ?In the Cowboys' last three losses, Romo has seven interceptions; in their one win, he did not turn over the ball.

2. DeMarcus Ware

Tags: cowboys, demarcus ware, giants, Giants-Cowboys, miles austin, three key players, tony romo
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If the Giants want to beat the Panthers in the first game at the New Meadowlands Stadium, and they do, they'll have to stop these three Panthers players.

1. Steve Smith

If you had just seen the end of the Panthers' 2009 season, you would have thought that Matt Moore to Steve Smith was one of the league's most feared QB to WR combinations. ?In the final 3.5 games of the season, Smith caught 19 passes for 378 yards and three touchdowns. ?He was on his way to having a big game against the Giants (5 receptions, 60 yards, one touchdown), before breaking his arm on the opening drive of the third quarter.

Tags: giants, New York Giants, NFL, panthers, three key players
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