The New York Giants travel to cold Lambeau Field on Sunday, to take on MVP candidate Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers, in the NFC wildcard game. The last two times the Giants won the Superbowl, in 2007 and 2011, they rolled through Green Bay. Can history repeat itself? Here are 5 players that could be key to victory for Big Blue on Sunday.
Yes, the rookie running back has been unleashed. Perkins is coming off the best 2 games of his short career and will be looking to get hot in January. In week 16 vs the Eagles, he had 15 rushes for 68 yards, which he then eclipsed in week 17 vs the Redskins, where he rushed 21 times for 102 yards and was a big reason the Giants were able to beat the Redskins and end their playoff hopes.
Running the ball will be very important for the Giants, as they will need to control the clock and keep Aaron Rodgers and the high powered offense off the field. Perkins can be a dynamic and elusive back, but help will be needed from Rashad Jennings, who can be effective on short yardage and in the redzone.
An interesting match up on Sunday will be between Pro Bowler Janoris Jenkins and wide receiver Jordy Nelson, who is surely the leading candidate for Comeback Player of the year, with 97 receptions, 1257 yards and 14 touchdowns, as he and Rodgers have rekindled their 2014 season partnership.
Jenkins has been locking down number 1 wide receivers all season long and he will have to continue to do so against Nelson if the Giants are going to have any success on Sunday.
With no JPP, the pass rush on Aaron Rodgers will fall heavily on the shoulders of Olivier Vernon, who will come up against left-tackle David Bakhtiari, who is ranked 3rd at his position by Pro Football Focus. The pass rush will be important, but keeping Rodgers contained in the pocket will also be key, as he is by far the best quarterback in the league at extending plays.
8.5 sacks for Vernon on the season, who has been pressuring quarterbacks almost every game. He’s also been tremendous against the run, which is a big reason why the Giants are one of the best defenses in the league.
The All-Pro safety will have a big job on Sunday vs the Packers tight ends as Aaron Rodgers will look to exploit the one major weakness to this Giants defense. The Giants are ranked 26th in the league vs opposing teams tight ends and it’s been a problem all season long, as linebackers Jonathan Casillas, Keenan Robinson and Kelvin Sheppard have been nowhere near up to scratch in pass coverage.
Landon Collins could be the guy to counter the Packers tight ends, as he plays up to the line of scrimmage and is very physical in the pass game. Collins is also a game changer, with 4 sacks and 5 interceptions on the season, he’s got the potential to cause Rodgers a lot of trouble.
Playoff Eli is (hopefully) back. The Giants will win this game if their defense contains Rodgers and if Eli Manning can have a turnover free game. Manning’s performance will coincide with how well the Giants run the ball. As shown in week 16 vs the Eagles, Manning can’t be trusted to put the whole offense on his back and win games solely by his arm.
Manning has always shown up big in the playoffs, but being a supporting cast to this great Giants defense and outstanding players like Odell Beckham Jr will be good enough to beat the Packers and extend their Superbowl dreams.
A tough game to call. Rodgers is playing the best football by any quarterback in the league right now, but coming up against arguably the best defense in the league will be his biggest challenge yet.
Giants 24- 21- Packers. Playoff Eli comes to town.