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Giants-Packers matchup of the day: Thursday

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Dan Arkush

darkush@pfwmedia.com
Executive editor

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By Dan Arkush

Here's a look at a key matchup heading into Sunday's Week 16 battle between the Giants and Packers at Lambeau Field:

Giants TE Kevin Boss vs. Packers secondary

The Packers continue to have their share of problems with opposing tight ends this season. After being significantly challenged by the likes of Tony Gonzalez (Falcons) and Vernon Davis (49ers) previously this season, they took on the Patriots' talented young TE duo of Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski last week and had untimely trouble in particular with Hernandez, who scored two TDs, including a 10-yard catch that turned out to be the game-winning score. On that play, Packers rookie nickel CB Sam Shields blew his coverage on Hernandez.

The sure-handed Boss is a three-year starter who is gaining a team-best 15.2 yards per catch on 33 receptions (for 502 yards). He has five touchdowns on the season, all coming in the past seven games — one of which was an eight-yard score in the Giants' 38-31 loss to the Eagles last week.

Packers strong safeties Charlie Peprah and Atari Bigby, who wound up playing the entire second half last week at free safety in place of the injured Nick Collins (ribs), will primarily be responsible for defending Boss, with CBs Charles Woodson and Shields also probably figuring into the mix. The physical Peprah has played the run better than the pass this season, and his area could be targeted early by Giants QB Eli Manning.

Bigby, who returned last week from a three-game layoff because of a hamstring injury, could get just as much playing time, if not more, than Peprah. One of the finest efforts of his career was in the 2007 NFC championship game against the Giants, when he was a disruptive force all over the field. Woodson had a chance for a huge play last week when he cut in front of Gronkowski on a corner route, but he dropped a possible interception.

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