The Packers are the favorite to win this Wild Card round matchup but the Giants' defense remains a lingering threat. Big Blue must execute its three keys to victory to stay alive on the road to the Super Bowl.
Put Pressure on Aaron Rodgers: After a shaky start to the season, Packers' QB Rodgers put the team on his back. He is arguably one of the best QBs of our generation and once again proved his dominance with six straight wins to cap off the end of the season. He stepped up during that crucial time and threw 15 passing TDs and zero interceptions. Rodgers finished the year with a career-high 40 TDs. He is thriving and even Ben McAdoo can't help but acknowledge the QB's fiery play.
The first-year coach offered his praise: "Aaron is playing out of his mind right now." "I don't have any kryptonite," McAdoo said. But he already knows this first-hand as the Packers' former quarterbacks coach. The key to victory will be how the Giants' defense contains Rodgers throughout the matchup. The Giants must make Rodgers uncomfortable from the first snap by bringing blitzes from the secondary and beat up the Packers offensive line. Rodgers performs well under pressure and is accurate on the run, but Spagnuolo's versatile group of pass rushers led by Olivier Vernon, are ready to target Rodgers.
Play turnover-free football: While the Giants dominated in most statistical categories, they struggled to take care of the ball. Risky passes resulted in interceptions and Eli Manning has been proven to be vulnerable when he is forced to get rid of the ball quickly. Although the Giants had a negative turnover differential this season, they cannot afford to turn the ball over against a lethal Aaron Rodgers and Packers offense. The Packers forced 25 turnovers this season and will look to create more this Sunday in order to minimize the effect of a beat up and inexperienced secondary.
Keep the running game going: With the wind chill this weekend, it is projected to feel like 1-degree Fahrenheit in Green Bay. The freezing temperatures combined with the fact that the Packers will likely target OBJ throughout the game, calls for a consistent running game. Luckily, rookie RB Paul Perkins showed a spark last week, helping the Giants pull away with a win on the road. In his first career start, Perkins led the Giants' running game with 21 carries for 102 yards. The offensive line appeared to be as cohesive and strong up front as they have all year. The Giants will rely on Justin Pugh and company to not only create holes for Perkins and Jennings, but also protect Eli and give him time to make big throws.