Jan 15, 2012; Green Bay, WI, USA; Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (12) rushes with the football during the NFC Divisional Playoff game against the New York Giants at Lambeau Field. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-US PRESSWIRE

GMenHQ Exclusive: 5 Questions with Packers Beat Writer Rob Demovsky

Rob Demovsky of the Green Bay Press Gazette was kind enough to join us this holiday weekend and give us his take on the Giants Packers matchup this Sunday Night at Metlife Stadium.

1. Do you think, and have you heard, the Packers have any special payback ideas when playing the Giants, or does the fact that the regular season games have not mirrored the post season match-ups change that?

I think if this game were in Week 1 — like many people (myself included) thought the Packers would be the Giants opening opponent — or even an early season game, then last year’s playoff game might have more relevance to the Packers. But so much time has passed and so many games have been played, that it hasn’t been an overwhelming topic. Mike McCarthy acknowledged this week that the playoff game was part of the film that was shown to the players this week, but that it wasn’t as motivation but rather as typical scouting. He did, however,  admit that “watching the playoff game, I mean it wasn’t fun. I think that’s fairly obvious. But it’s part of the preparation for this week.” … Both McCarthy and Tom Coughlin were asked whether this has almost become like a division game because the two teams have played so often of late but both said no.

2. How did Mike McCarthy handle motivating his guys for the regular season this year after going 15-1, and the QB having basically a perfect season in 2011?

He identified things that went wrong against the Giants and made those the main teaching points in the offseason. Specifically on offense it was ball security. The Packers turned it over and dropped passes far more in the playoff game than they did during the regular season. On defense, it was all about tackling and being more sound. And really from that standpoint, it was about getting better players on defense. Even in going 15-1 last season, their defense wasn’t good. That’s why their first six draft picks in April were defensive players.

3. What match-up, if any, should worry the Packers this Sunday?

The Packers aren’t playing all of their preferred starters on the offensive line and considering the strength of the Giants’ D-line, that has to be a concern. They will be playing just their second game without right tackle  Bryan Bulaga, who was lost for the season with a hip injury on Nov. 4 against Arizona. So they’re playing their left guard, T.J. Lang, at right tackle and they brought Evan Dietrich-Smith off the bench to play in Lang’s old spot at left guard. Both struggled against the Lions.

4. Has the loss of Jay Cutler energized the Packers any more to aim for the division crown, or is it business as usual?

The Packers have been more energized by their five-game winning streak than by anything the Bears have done. Before last week, the Packers had played only the one division game — in Week 2 — against the Bears. Consequently, they hadn’t concerned themselves much with the division. That will change over the final month with all the NFC North games they have upcoming.

5. What aspect of The Packers concerns you most as they head towards the final 6 games?

 They have to get Clay Matthews back. More than any player they’ve lost to injury over the last few years, they need Matthews. He’s not only their best defensive player but one of the best in the league. He’s probably not going to play this week against the Giants, but they need him healthy if they’re going to be a legitimate Super Bowl contender.

Thank for the insight Rob, we always appreciate your time and efforts!

Follow Rob on Twitter @RobDemovsky and LIKE us at our new facebook address www.facebook.com/gmenhqny

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