Wild Card Round
#5 New York Giants (11-5) vs. #4 Green Bay Packers(10-6)
Green Bay, Wisconsin (Lambeau Field)
January 8th, 1:40 pm PST
The most anticipated game of the weekend gets underway Sunday afternoon. This is by far the most even matchup of the Wild Card Round and could really go either way. We have the red-hot Green Bay Packers, who are led by MVP candidate Aaron Rodgers and have won their last 6 games. The Giants have been playing solid football the entire year and have won 11 games. They have shown their potential by beating the Cowboys twice this season. It is going to be an exciting matchup of probably the best QB in the NFC, Aaron Rodgers, against probably the best defense in the NFC, the New York Giants.
Green Bay Packers
Aaron Rodgers has been the best player in football during the 2nd half of the season. He has gone from a terrible season (for Aaron Rodgers) to an MVP season in a matter of weeks. In the month of December, Aaron Rodgers threw for over 1000 yards, 9 TD’s and 0 interceptions. He was completing almost 70% of his passes with a QB Rating of 120.7. His play was unrivaled by anyone and he has established himself as the best player heading into the playoffs. They are a prime Super Bowl dark house because of Aaron’s play and will be a tough out for any team.
With the addition of Ty Montgomery, the Packers running game has become much better late in the year. They aren’t going to beat any teams running the football, but it helps take some pressure off Aaron Rodgers so they can open up the playbook and let Rodgers be at his best to fully dominate.
#88 Ty Montgomery
AP Photo/Mike Roemer
The one weakness for the Packers is their defense. They rank 22nd in yards against (363.9 per game) and rank 21st in points against giving up 24.3 per game. Their defense has been below average the whole year and it doesn’t seem to have improved a ton over the course of the season. This is where the Giants will have to take advantage. The Packers are 8th in the NFL in stopping the run, but are 31st against the pass. Chunk plays and big passing plays will be available for this Giant’s offense and they will have to take advantage.
Side Note: The Packers remind me a ton of the Raiders. They have a below average defense, but an MVP candidate at quarterback who has been on fire and has carried the team the whole year.
New York Giants
As we mentioned before, the Giants are going to have to attack this horrible Packers pass defense. They should try to throw the ball early and often to take advantage. Eli will have to use his multitude of targets of Odell Beckham Jr. (1367 yards, 10 TD), Victor Cruz, and Sterling Shepard (8 TD). Manning has not had the best season of his career, but has still played solid football. He has thrown for over 4,000 yards and 26 TD’s, but has thrown 16 interceptions and has fumbled 7 times. Eli still has the potential to create big plays, but still has a tendency to turn the football over with ease. It is more important for him to limit turnovers than it is to force plays for two reasons. One, Odell Beckham Jr. will make plays, so you do not need to force anything. Secondly, he doesn’t need to score 30 points to win. This Giant’s defense is stout and takes a lot of pressure off Manning.
Really look for Odell Beckham to have a monster day. This terrible pass defense will give plenty of opportunities for Beckham to explode.
#21 Landon Collins, Safety, 5th in the NFL with 5 Interceptions
The biggest surprise of the season may be this New York defense. They went out in the offseason and bought a defense thru free agency. Unlike many other teams, who try to a buy a defense and fail, their acquisitions have worked out beautifully. They have a bend but don’t break attitude by ranking 10th in yards against, but 2nd, only behind New England, in points against (17.8 points per game).
The Packers aren’t known for running and the Giants rank 3rd against the run only giving up a meager 88.6 yards per game. Therefore, the Packers will become one-dimensional and a lot of pressure will be put on Aaron Rodgers. He has been up for the task as of late, but he will need his MVP-caliber play to be successful because the Giants 10th ranked pass defense is no slouch as well and will become quite a task if the Packers become one dimensional.
This is easily going to be the best game of wild card weekend. Like I said before, this is a matchup of the best defense and the best quarterback in the NFC. I really want to pick the Giants in this game, and think they will beat the spread, but I don’t know if they will win the game. They have everything that I like, a great defense and a good Quarterback WR combination that will easily take advantage of the Packer’s poor pass defense. However, the Packers win the QB battle. If it was a neutral site, I think it’d be a coin flip, but since it is at Lambeau, I will give the slight edge to Aaron Rodgers. His play as of late is too dominate. He has thrown 15 TD’s in a row without an interception and is looking like he is about to make a run in the playoffs. I love the Giants, but they have gotten Aaron Rodgers at the wrong time. I will say tho, this game is very much a coin flip, but whoever goes on to win will have a great shot at making a Super Bowl run.
The Packers also beat them in the meeting earlier this year, 23-16 in Week 5 at Lambeau.
Packers 27 Giants 26
Highlights of the Week 5 meeting in Lambeau:
Ryan is currently a student at the University of North Carolina. He grew up in the Bay Area and has had Raiders season tickets his entire life fostering his love for the NFL. He has founded his own sports website, thejrreport.com and works at the Sports Desk for the Daily Tar Heel. You can follow Ryan on twitter @rytime98 if you want to discuss anything sports.