It’s showtime! For the first time since 2011, the New York Giants have made it into the NFL Playoffs, and much like their last postseason endeavor, the road to the Super Bowl will be fierce. The Giants will face off against the surging Green Bay Packers in the Wild Card Round of the NFL Playoffs on Sunday at 4:40 on FOX.
Here’s Overtime’s comprehensive game preview.
New York Giants: Offense
The Giants’ offensive struggles have been well-documented this season. They still have yet to score 30 points this season, a result of a simplified passing game and an inconsistent rushing attack.
However, these perceived shortcomings are not preventing the Giants from putting up wins. The Giants have 6 victories with less than 20 points scored, the best mark in the NFL. Another positive recently has been the run game, as rookie Paul Perkins has breathed life into the unit; he is fresh off of the first 100-yard game of his career.
The fate of the Giants though rests more on Eli Manning’s shoulders than anyone else’s. While it is true that Manning has been among the most deadly postseason quarterbacks in history and he has a bevy of playmakers at his disposal, he also hasn’t been to the playoffs since 2011 and has looked more shaky this year rather than his usual composed, methodical self.
It remains to be seen if “Postseason Eli” can show up once again for the G-Men.
Green Bay Packers: Offense
If the Giants’ offense is best known for its inconsistency, the Packers’ attack is the antithesis of Big Blue. Quarterback Aaron Rodgers was his surgically-precise self this season, passing for over 4,400 yards to go with 40 touchdowns, only 7 interceptions, and a 104.2 passer rating.
There is no better quarterback in the NFL than Rodgers; he has the strongest arm, the perfect amount of touch on his passes, a football IQ that must have come from Harvard, and uses his legs better than any other quarterback to extend plays.
However, the Packers have more than just Rodgers to brag about on offense. Despite the loss of starting running back Eddie Lacy to injury, converted wide receiver Ty Montgomery and bruising fullback Aaron Ripkowski have stepped up in his stead, averaging 5.5 yards per carry between them.
Rodgers also has one of the top receiving cores in the league to throw to, including Jordy Nelson, Davante Adams, Randall Cobb, and tight end Jared Cook. And the offensive line? David Bahktiari, T.J. Lang, and Bryan Bulaga are the leaders of one of the NFL’s toughest lines.
New York Giants: Defense
The Packers arguably have the NFL’s top offense from top to bottom. It’s a good thing for Giants fans that the Big Blue Wrecking Crew is back after years of hiding. There is no better defense in the NFL than the Giants, who stop the run with ease, eliminate top receivers, and relentlessly attack the ball.
No one has stopped the Packers yet, but the Giants have the lineup to do it. It all starts up front, where Damon Harrison, Oliver Vernon, and Jonathan Hankins stop the run and pressure the quarterback. The linebackers have the speed to cover underneath and are hard tacklers, and the secondary, known as the NYPD (New York Pass Defense), is possibly the NFL’s best, with Janoris Jenkins, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Landon Collins, and Eli Apple on patrol.
The Giants’ defense has rendered such elite offenses as the Cowboys, Lions, Saints, and Redskins useless earlier this season. The Packers are the next opponent for the Giants’ defense, the ultimate test for an up-and-coming defense.
Green Bay Packers: Defense
Despite a miserable start to the season, the Packers have rebounded defensively and have begun to resemble their old selves. The Packers have totaled the most plays that have gone for negative yardage on defense in the NFL this season, and have regained their mojo.
Clay Matthews, Nick Perry, Julius Peppers, and Mike Daniels are excellent pash-rushers, the interior stops the run, and the secondary has 17 interceptions on the year, second-best in the NFL.
The Packers’ defense is good, but it also allows over 24 points per game, the second-worst total of any playoff team. If Odell Beckham Jr. and co. can find space on Sunday, the Packers could be in a tough spot.
New York Giants: Special Teams
The New York Giants use special teams as a defensive weapon. Punter Brad Wing has 16 punts downed within the 10 yard-line, among the NFL’s best. Kicker Robbie Gould is battle-tested, and return men Dwayne Harris and Odell Beckham Jr. can go off at any moment.
Green Bay Packers: Special Teams
The Packers too have solid special teams. Kicker Mason Crosby has kicked in Green Bay for over 10 years, punter Jacob Schum has only 4 touchbacks on the season, and return men Ty Montgomery, Micah Hyde, and even Randall Cobb have histories that include many return touchdowns.
The Giants have history on their side heading into this matchup. The Giants have beaten the Packers in Green Bay during the postseason before, specifically in 2007 and 2011. They also carry an NFL record streak of 6 straight road playoff wins (not counting Super Bowls).
However, the road to the Super Bowl is too rocky this time for the Giants. The Packers have won 6 straight games, have the NFL’s best quarterback, and are playing at home. The Giants have done the improbable before, but ultimately the team’s offense is too underachieving to have me predict a playoff win.
24-20 Packers (Record picking Giants games: 11-5)