15

January

Packers vs. Giants: 5 Things to Watch in NFC Divisional Round

Peprah was burned for a TD on the Giants' first offensive series.

The Green Bay Packers (15-1, NFC No. 1) host the New York Giants (10-7, NFC No. 4) Sunday in the NFC’s Divisional Round of the 2012 playoffs.

The basics 

When: 3:30 CST, Sunday, January 15, 2012.

Where: Lambeau Field, Green Bay, WI.

TV: FOX; Joe Buck and Troy Aikman on the call, Pam Oliver on the sidelines.

Radio: 620 AM WTMJ (Milwaukee); Packers Radio Network; NFL Sunday Drive; Westwood One.

Series: Packers lead, 31-23-2 (Giants won last playoff meeting, 23-20 (OT) on Jan. 20, 2008 in NFC Championship Game).

Five things to watch

1. Rookie factor

Not since Desmond Howard have the Packers had a special teams weapon that could routinely flip field position. They have one now in rookie Randall Cobb, and you better believe that teams are treating him as such. As the season wore on, more and more teams hedged their bets and kicked away from Cobb.

At the very least, Cobb can ensure the Packers aren’t playing offense from the shadow of their own goal posts Sunday. And if the Giants give him enough chances, Cobb can break that one big play that can turn the game.

2. Opposite rush

Expecting a breakout performance from the Packers’ outside linebacker position after 16 games of mediocrity (that’s putting it nicely) is overly optimistic. But there is some hope that the Packers can get something from a player opposite Clay Matthews Sunday.

Brad Jones showed some life in Week 17 with a hustle sack and a couple of stops in the running game. He’ll likely get the majority of the early snaps against the Giants. In addition, Erik Walden had one of his better pass rushing games of the season back in Week 13 in New York. A solid performance from either player, or preferably both, would be a huge lift for the Packers defense.

3. Big Fella catchin’ on

For all the criticism Jermichael Finley took during most of the regular season, the Packers’ enigmatic tight end really started to come on during the last five games of the season. A five-game stretch that saw him catch 19 passes for 254 yards and three scores started in New York, where Finley went for 87 yards, including a huge catch on the Packers’ game-winning drive, and a first-half touchdown.