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Packers-Giants matchup of the day: Tuesday

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Dan Arkush

darkush@pfwmedia.com
Executive editor

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By Dan Arkush

Packers CBs Charles Woodson, Tramon Williams and Sam Shields vs. Giants WRs Hakeem Nicks, Victor Cruz and Mario Manningham

If QB Eli Manning can get the Giants' passing game on "Cruz Control" early in the game, the Packers could be in for a long afternoon. Cruz, who has really blossomed in his second season in the pros, will pose a real challenge for the Packer corners, particularly Williams, who couldn't have been more up to the challenge of keeping Lions superstar WR Calvin Johnson in check in Green Bay's last outing ("Megatron" had only four catches on eight targets for 49 yards and a meaningless TD with time about to expire).

Cruz, who has speed to burn and is good at handling press coverage, is red-hot at the moment. In the Giants' Monday-night loss to the Saints, he registered his fourth 100-yard receiving outing of the season and second straight, catching nine passes (on 12 targets) for 157 yards and two TDs, including a 72-yard score that Woodson and Williams will probably rerun numerous times in the film room this week.

A key factor for the Giants is the status of Manningham, who could provide a big-play boost in a game that has the potential to turn into a wild-and-woolly shootout. Manningham, who had an 85-yard TD catch against the Packers in Week 16 last year, did not play on Monday night (knee) and will probably be listed as questionable for the game this Sunday.

Nicks, who emerged as Manning's major target last season despite missing three games, is still considered the Giants' No. 1 receiver over Cruz despite his more modest numbers this season. He had seven catches for 87 yards against the Saints Monday night, his best effort since a 4-96 performance in Week Six, and showed some toughness when he stayed in the game after absorbing a wicked hit from Saints rookie S Isa Abdul-Quddus.

In the Packers' rout of the Giants in Week 16 last season, Woodson, Williams and Shields each came up with takeaways. Woodson and Shields each had an interception, and Woodson contributed a forced fumble.

Woodson has given up a lot of big plays this season, but he still makes more good plays than bad and continues to have a knack for clutch takeaways, as evidenced by his sixth interception of the year against the Lions, which enabled him to triple his 2010 pick total.

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