Early Bird Breakdown NFC Wild Card – Giants @ Packers

Hello and welcome back to Early Bird Breakdown. It’s the playoffs! Before diving into the game, let’s look at the recap from last week.

The Recap:

Last week Green Bay rode into Detroit and took the division winning 31-24 game. Aaron Rodgers continued his lights-out play throwing for 300 yards, four touchdowns, and no turnovers.

The Breakdown:

Packers’ Offense vs Giants’ Defense:

Green Bay’s offense is playing the best football it has in two seasons. Aaron Rodgers has his longest streak without throwing an interception in his career. While the retooled Giants defense will prove a much tougher task than the Lions, the Packers should do better offensively than they did last time. Back on week five when they last played, the Packers only managed 23 points and Rodgers threw two interceptions.

While the Giants secondary is riddled with playmakers, they do not consistently stop offenses from moving the ball instead relying on turnovers. If Aaron Rodgers continues to play as he as in recent weeks, the Giants will have issues keeping the game low scoring.

Historically, the Giants have had the Packers’ number by controlling the line of scrimmage with their front four. This time should be much different, with star defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul still recovering from a core injury and the Packers offensive line has been playing incredible.

What the Giants do currently best is they have the co-third best run defense in the league (tied with New England). While Ty Montgomery has been very good at running back so far, most likely the Packers will have to play one-dimensionally and go all in on the passing game using check downs and screens as a supplement to the running game.

Packers’ Defense vs Giants’ Offense:

The Giants have been very up and down offensively this year. Odell Beckham Jr is playing significantly better now than he was going into the game against Green Bay in week five, but overall the Giants have not had consistency on the offensive side and that is going to be the biggest question heading in. A bad Giants offense will turn the ball over and have short drives, which will give Rodgers plenty of chances to score. If the Giants are playing their best, Odell Beckham Jr may have 200 yards.

Regardless of recent games though, I expect Eli Manning to have an excellent game. Historically, Eli Manning turns into another player during the playoffs and becomes a very prolific passer. The best way for the Packers to contain this offense will be to try and sack Eli, something that is much easier said than done. The Giants have a very good offensive line and  Clay Matthews and company will have to work really hard to get sacks. The Giants only gave up 22 sacks all season long, good for third fewest given up.

The Weather:

Green Bay will warm up a few degrees for kickoff going back up to double digits with an expected kickoff around 12 degrees with no snow and only light wind expected.

The Breakdown:

First of all, all game regardless of the score I expect the Giants to be in this. Mike McCarthy since the Super Bowl has become a bit like Marty Schottenheimer in that he tends to be a bit overly conservative in his play calling and it has cost the Packers. The Giants can rally quickly with how poor the secondary has played and how explosive Odell Beckham Jr is. Eli Manning has as many playoff wins in Green Bay as Aaron Rodgers does (two).  Having said all that, the Packers are favored in this game for a reason. Aaron Rodgers is playing like he did during the Super Bowl run, and while this team is not as complete as that team was (their defense was ranked in the top 10 that year, this year they are ranked 22nd) they should be able to score on this defense. Without Pierre-Paul, the Giants will not be able to pressure Rodgers enough and their secondary relies too heavily on turnovers, leading to consistent scoring. On the other side, I think Eli throws a pick and has one or two drives cut short by team mistakes. The Giants will keep it close, but I think Green Bay wins 34-31.

As always, go Pack go! Stu Weis -Journalism graduate 2012, Carroll University