With the best of the best moving forward after Wild Card weekend, the Divisional Round proves to be even more intriguing as eight teams remain, all with their eyes on the prize of becoming Super Bowl Champions.
All four divisional games should be competitive and exciting in their own right but the Giants and Packers will put on a show that cannot be missed as two Super Bowl champion QBs will battle on the frozen tundra at Lambeau Field to see who will take the next step in their journey to the Super Bowl.
The Giants are headed into Green Bay on a three-game winning streak with New York beating Atlanta by a score of 24-2 in the Wild Card Round last week. New York has essentially played two playoff games thus far as they needed to win their final game of the year against Dallas to even make it into the playoffs.
New York has momentum on their side but they are running into a team that has had momentum on their side all season long. The Packers ended the season with a 15-1 record, with their lone loss handed to them courtesy of the Kansas City Chiefs. Green Bay decided to rest some of their starters in the last game of the season and backup QB Matt Flynn had no problem filling in for Aaron Rodgers as he threw for 480 yards and six TDs in their victory over the Lions.
On the other hand, Aaron Rodgers has had a career year, throwing for 4,643 yards with a completion percentage of 68.3 percent. Rodgers also threw 45 TDs and just six interceptions as he set a record for highest QB rating in a single season with 122.5.
The Packers are in prime position to win their second straight Lombardi Trophy but they first must take care of business at home against the Giants on Sunday night.
On the other hand, the G-Men have Super Bowl aspirations of their own as they will try to rain on the Packers parade. The Giants almost played the spoiler role earlier in the season when they gave Green Bay everything they could handle in a classic game that came down to the final seconds. The Packers ended up winning that game by a score of 38-35 as Mason Crosby kicked a 31-yard field goal at the end of regulation.
However, this is nothing new for New York as the Giants have found themselves in this position before, as they beat the Packers in the NFC Championship game back in 2007. The Giants defied all odds as they beat the Packers at Lambeau by a score of 23-20 en route to their Super Bowl victory over the Patriots.
This game has all the makings of a classic high-scoring affair between two of the NFL’s most explosive offenses. Aaron Rodgers has had an MVP-like season but Eli Manning is no slouch either, considering that Manning has had his best season statistically.
Eli has thrown for 4,933 yards with 29 TDs and 16 interceptions. Now these numbers are nowhere near Brady, Brees or Rodgers-like numbers but Eli has proven to be an elite QB in the league with his performance this year.
Manning will have to prove that he is elite this weekend because it will take an epic performance by him and the Giants to upset Rodgers and the favored Packers. Some would say that the Giants have underperformed this year on defense, but as of late the Giants defense has been dominant as they are now healthy and have the majority of their starters back.
The advantage goes to the Packers on the offensive side of the ball but the Giants are not too far behind as New York ranks in the top 10 in several offensive categories, including points per game, passing yards per game and total yards per game.
However, when it comes to rushing the ball, the Giants rank last in the league, averaging just 89.2 yards per game. The Packers rank in the top five in almost every offensive category except for rushing, where they sit 27th in the league, averaging 97.4 yards per game.
Although the Packers are statistically better than the Giants rushing-wise, I believe that the Giants will fare better with the ground-and-pound considering that they have a duel threat in Brandon Jacobs and Ahmad Bradshaw, who are a tough duo to bring down. Jacobs and Bradshaw are getting healthy at just the right time as they combined for over 150 rushing yards last week in the Giants' victory over the Falcons.
On the defensive side of the ball, New York seems to have the edge at the moment with most of their starters back and healthy. The Packers are great at creating turnovers but Green Bay’s defense ranks last in passing yards allowed and total yards allowed per game.
Manning played very well against the Packers last month and I don’t see him making many mistakes on Sunday. Rodgers will not make many mistakes either but it will all come down to who has the ball last.
I believe that Manning and the Giants will ruin the Packers' Super Bowl hopes in a high-scoring battle that comes down to the final seconds of regulation where the team with the ball last will end up victorious. The Packers had the ball last when they beat the Giants a month ago but this time the Giants will have the last laugh and beat the Packers by a field goal.