They did it. They ran the table. Once thought to be dead in the water at 4-6, the Green Bay Packers have won six straight games and are the Kings in the North once more. The Rodgers/McCarthy/Thompson Packers have now won five of the last six NFC North championships. All this in a year that the reigning division champions traded a 1st and 4th round pick in an effort to win the Super Bowl, and missed the playoffs.
But, as Mike McCarthy explained before the season “we don’t hang division title banners around here”. That’s not why you play for the Green Bay Packers, and it’s certainly not why I fell in love with the Green Bay Packers as a 7 year old kid learning what football was.
You’re in it to win championships. The Packers have 13 of those, but none since 2010 and only two since 1967. The playoffs are a new table. A table to be run, if you will. In fact that’s exactly what any team that has designs on the Lombardi trophy is going to have to do.
Fortunately for Green Bay, quarterback is the most important position in sports, and the Packers have the player playing at the highest level. Rodgers may not have the indoor stadium or running attack that augments Matt Ryan, but he does have a diverse group of pass catchers and is utilizing them with great efficiency.
Why the Packers will win: They’re the better team. They proved it when they played the Giants earlier in the season. The Giants have an elite run defense, but the Packers aren’t going to run the ball anyway. They’re also very good in the secondary, but that might not matter, either.
The 2007 and 2011 Giants terrorized the Packers with fearsome four man rushes, dropped seven into coverage and stifled good Packers offenses. This Giants team can’t do that. Jason Pierre-Paul won’t be able to play and Olivier Vernon isn’t going to intimidate David Bakhtiari. Will the Packers score in the 30s for the fifth straight game against this defense? Probably not.
Will it be enough? More than likely. The Giants are being sold as a balanced team, but FootballOutsiders ranks their offense as the 23rd best offense in football in weighted DVOA. Eli Manning himself ranks as the 30th best QB in the league this season (there are 32 teams) according to Pro Football Focus. He also ranks 27th in ESPN’s QBR so if you think PFF is voodoo magic he’s bad almost any way you slice it.
To me, I don’t see how Manning and the offense is going to be able to put enough points on the board during the competitive balance of the game (so much of the production against Capers’ defense is in junk time) to win.
Why the Giants will win: They have a QB with two Super Bowl rings, as bad as he has been this season. I have a hard time believing or selling any of you that the games from 5 and 10 years ago mean anything as it pertains to Sunday’s game. The formula, though is very similar.
The Giants have the potential with Odell Beckham to make a few huge plays. If the Packers offense sputters in the cold against a very good Giants defense (2nd in DVOA) and Beckham and Manning take the game over, it is certainly possible the Packers lose this game.
What I do, though, struggle to imagine is Green Bay being blown out. I could see the Giants getting thrashed, but not the Packers. They’re just too good on offense right now. Rodgers is too good. Manning is not.
Bottom Line: The Giants and Packers have already played each other this season. Aaron Rodgers played very poorly, completing barely over 50% of 45 passes and throwing 2 INT against 2 TDs. Despite Rodgers playing that poorly, the Packers led the game 23-9 with 2:55 seconds remaining in the game. Odell Beckham then scored to make it look much closer than it was. Eli Manning is not playing well this season and Odell Beckham was on the field during the last Giants loss. The Packers have schemed against him with the same personnel they’ll have on Sunday. The Packers will win this game, and the winner of their battle with Dallas will win the Super Bowl. Packers 27 Giants 21