Wild Card Weekend Tale: New York Giants at Green Bay Packers
- QuarterbackThe Giants have had some excellent moments on offense this season, but Eli Manning has lacked the consistency he has had when the Giants have made the playoffs in other seasons. He excels when he gets the ball to Odell Beckham Jr., but he has thrown 16 interceptions in addition to his 26 touchdown passes. Manning needs to throw with more authority than he has shown this season.The Green Bay Packers were limping along with a 4-6 record, and that’s when Aaron Rodgers told everyone that the Pack could win the division and close the season on a six-game winning streak. That’s just what happened, and Rodgers has picked up his game in the second half of the season. He has a 40-7 TD-interception ratio and he may be the league’s MVP.
- OffenseThe Giants don’t have a dependable running game, and that has prevented them from playing consistently on offense. Rashad Jennings runs with power, while Paul Perkins has some breakaway ability, but neither is good enough at this point. Beckham is a star who can dominate, but he will drop some passes. Rookie Sterling Shepard is solid but the Giants need more from Victor Cruz.After playing rather ordinary and mellow offensive football through the midpoint of the season, the Packers have hit their offensive stride. Jordy Nelson is in top form and is one of the most dangerous receivers in football with 97-1,257-14. Davante Adams has caught 12 TD passes from Rodgers, while Ty Montgomery is a dual rushing-receiving threat out of the backfield.
- DefenseThe Giants gave up more yardage than any other team in the league last year, but that defense has become the team’s strength this season. Newcomers Olivier Vernon and Damon Harrison have added stability to the front four, while Janoris Jenkins is an excellent cover man with three interceptions and 21 passes defensed. SS Landon Collins has 125 tackles and five interceptions.The Packers were awful defensively during their four-game losing streak in the middle of the season, but they have improved quite a bit since then. The Packers rank 22nd in yardage allowed, so they are still somewhat vulnerable, but SS Morgan Burnett has had a solid season with 93 tackles and 3.0 sacks. Nick Perry had 11.0 sacks this season and the Packers need him to be at his best here.
- Special TeamsDwayne Harris is a dangerous return man because he has the speed to break long plays on punt or kickoff returns, but he can also fumble the ball and set up opponents with great field position. PK Robbie Gould has made 10-of-10 FG attempts since replacing Josh Brown.The Packers have been quite ordinary in their own return game, and while they have been adequate when it comes to covering punts, they have been vulnerable on kickoffs. Mason Crosby has made 26-of-30 FG attempts, but Jacob Schum is just a so-so punter with a 39.1-yard net average.
In two previous Super Bowl runs, the Giants picked up huge road wins in Green Bay. In order for that to happen again, they will need to pick up their offensive game considerably.