With the passing this week of offensive coordinator Joe Philbin’s son Michael, the Packers had a tough go during the lead up to a game they must win or see their outstanding 15-1 season come to an end.
Throw in the unfortunate trash talk thrown in the direction of Lambeau Field by their opponents, the New York Giants, and the Packers have had one of the most unusual weeks before a playoff game in franchise history.
Last week, the Giants defeated the Atlanta Falcons 24-2 at home in an NFC Wild Card matchup. The Giants played their best defense of the season with the only points for the Falcons coming from an Eli Manning intentional grounding penalty while he was in his own end zone. The Giants gained a lot of confidence from that performance and led some of their players to guarantee victory against the team that finished the regular season with the best record in the league.
Let’s take a look at New York.
Key Giants Players
QB Eli Manning Manning is a very streaky quarterback. When he’s hot, he’s incredibly tough to beat and especially so for a struggling Packers defense. When Manning is off, however, he’s a gift that keeps on giving to opposing defenses.
It’s definitely been more of the good Manning than the bad this season and with a powerful pass rush on defense, Manning can relax and not feel like the weight of the entire team is on his shoulders. He’s developed a rapport with his receivers and this was on display in the Packers’ 38-35 squeaker of a victory in New York earlier in the regular season.
WR Victor Cruz Perhaps no one else has come out of nowhere this season like Cruz has. After playing in only three games last season thanks to a hamstring injury, Cruz exploded on the scene this season catching nine touchdowns for 1,536 yards, a Giants franchise record.
Throw in the talents of Mario Manningham, and the Giants have a spectacular one-two punch at receiver. While they’re not quite there with the Packers receiving corps yet, the Giants can give any struggling secondary a fit and the Packers do fit into that category unfortunately.