Last week, Aaron Rodgers capped off another incredible season with a magical performance. On top of leading the Packers to the playoffs for the eighth straight time, winning the division, and hosting a playoff game, he finally led the league in touchdown passes with 40. This week, the Pack host Eli Manning and the New York Giants at Lambeau Field.
Green Bay Packers Wild Card Weekend Keys to Victory
Packers Receivers vs. Giants Defensive Backs
On one side there may be the most explosive offense in the NFL, while on the other there is the best defense since week six.
Aaron Rodgers is the highest graded passer in the NFL since week seven, according to PFF. What makes it even more impressive is that he did it against great competition such as the Seattle Seahawks (38-10, week 14), the Minnesota Vikings (38-25, week 15), and Detroit Lions (31-24, week 17). Rodgers is coming into the playoffs as the hottest player in the NFL, and his offense has been torching some elite defenses (Seattle, Houston, Minnesota). Coincidentally, the receivers are playing much better, and it all started in week seven. Jordy Nelson is back in the elite wide receiver conversation while Davante Adams is living up to the hype. Nelson finished the season with 97 receptions, 1,257 yards, and a league best 14 receiving touchdowns, while his teammate Adams finished the season with 75 receptions, 997 yards and is tied for second place with 12 touchdowns.
On the other side, Big Blue brings a shut down defense led by Defensive Player of the Year candidate Landon Collins, and his teammates Eli Apple, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, and Janoris Jenkins. The Giants defense ranks second in points per game, and is tied for third place in rushing yards per game. But what makes them even more impressive is that they do it when it matters most that is the fourth quarter. According to ESPN Stats and Info, since week six, the Giants pass defense in the fourth quarter ranks first in completion percentage (44%), second in yards per attempt (4.9), tied for first in passing touchdowns with none allowed, tied for first in interceptions (five), tied for second in sacks (seven), and third in total QBR at 20.
The game will be won on third downs. Period. Green Bay’s offense will have to convert as many as possible to protect their still injury-depleted defense, while New York will want to stay fresh and give their offense as many chances as possible against a below average defense. Green Bay’s offense converts 46.67% of their third downs, which is second best in the NFL. On the opposite side, New York is brining the third best third down defense in the league. They allow a mere 35.29% of third downs. If Rodgers and company can stay on the field and not turn the ball over, they will have a chance otherwise it might be a long afternoon.
Final Score: 27-24 Packers on a late great drive by Aaron Rodgers to win the game.