Tonight, a great wildcard weekend matchup will take place when the league’s two most historic teams will battle, and their meeting will carry some stinging history. Why? Because the two times the New York Giants won the Super Bowl with Eli Manning at the helm, they did it by beating the Green Bay Packers, and it’s surely something the Packers haven’t forgotten yet. They’ll be looking for revenge and to try to correct history with a win at home.
Some good news for the Pack is that this Giants offense isn’t like that Giants offense of before who beat them. Back when the Giants could run the ball very effectively, they were a tough test. But this year their rookie, Paul Perkins hasn’t shown a lot of explosiveness that the Giants used to get out of their running backs. If you add that to the overall ineffectiveness Manning has shown quarterbacking this team, then it’s looks like tonight is a very winnable game for Green Bay.
It look like that on paper too. The Giants are coming into this game 11-5, and yes they have the better record, but the Packers are 10-6) and are being favored because they play at home and they have the hottest player in the league right now, a QB called Aaron Rodgers.
“I think that you like to prove people wrong,’’ Manning said to media. “That is always kind of an exciting thing to do.’’
Manning does have as many postseason victories at Lambeau field as Rodgers, a total of two, but that was then, 2008 and 2012, and this is now. 2017 is a very different year. The Giants do have a good defense and put it first, but Manning has to make the right decisions and find Odell Beckham Jr. often if he wants to win.
Coach Ben McAdoo takes his Giants Lambeau where he worked in for eight seasons under Packers coach Mike McCarthy. This will McAdoo’s first playoff game as head coach, and the first for many of his men. But does it matter? “None. Zero,’’ McAdoo said to reporters when asked about the importance of playoff experience.
But weather might be. For the Giants, John Jerry has played every match at right guard this season, and looks ready to play in the cold. He looked in disbelief when asked if he would wear long or short sleeves for the game amid such frigid conditions? He answered: “That’s a prideful thing, man. You always want to be a guy to go out there and not have sleeves on. You don’t want to be a lineman going out there with sleeves on. I’m pretty sure the guys who played before will appreciate that.’’
Linemen Chris Snee, Shaun O’Hara, David Diehl and Richie Seubert should approve. When Jerry was asked if this was a macho thing, he said “No, just a lineman thing.’’ How these two teams handle the freezing elements will be key to their success. At least Jerry won’t have to handle the ball, nor does defensive end Olivier Vernon, who grew up in Miami, went to college in Miami and spent the first four years of his NFL career in Miami. “I’ve never played in single degrees,’’ Vernon told media pregame. “No sleeves. You got arms like this, you got to show ’em.’’
Both teams will have to deal with the cold and be hot if they want to win. The forecast is a high of 15 degrees and a low of 10 degrees, but there should not be a lot of wind and no snow. “The most important thing is just focusing on the game. It’s not about the elements, it’s about preparing, anticipating, executing, and then being ready to adjust during the course of the game,’’ McAdoo said. “That’s what makes these games so special. It could come down to one play. One play changes the game, changes your season, changes the course of history. You have to be really dialed into what we’re doing.”
Strangely enough, both times the Giants won the Super Bowl they also started off in the Wild Card, so it wouldn’t surprise anyone if the Giants played a complete game of football and beat the Packers at home to take it to the next round.
Logic dictates that the Packers are the favorites. Ty Montgomery and Christine Michael form an interesting backfield duo and Aaron Rodgers and Jordy Nelson are looking in awesome shape. This Packers receiving core is one of the deepest units in the league, with Geronimo Allison and DaVante Adams playing well. The Packers have the weapons to beat this Giants defense. Randall Cobb should play tonight too.
The Pack are 6-0 since Rodgers predicted to media that they would “run the table’’ after they fell to a 4-6 record after losing 42-24 loss to the Washington Redskins which put them in a four game losing streak. Since they have turned it around, and even if the Giants have one of the NFC’s best defenses, they will gace a surging Packers in Lambeau, even if the Packers defense isn’t all that great, the Giants have one of the weakest offenses in the league. They’ll probably just put up 20 points on the Pack, and so Green bay should be able to outscore them if they stick to their game.
When Rodgers has the ball and the Packers are gearing up their offense, it will be must-see TV. It will be up to Manning to see if he can squeeze more offense out of his team find more points. No matter what happens this will be the game of the weekend.