The Packers lock up with old playoff nemesis NYG. Obviously, the NYG spoiled Brett Favre’s last game as a Packer (as did Favre himself) in the 2008 NFC Championship Game and ruined the 15-1 regular season by throttling GB in the NFC Divisional Round in the 2012 playoffs. But we’re playing in the 2017 Playoffs so past can only offer so much as prologue.
On Offense the NYG have been better on the ground the last few weeks as rookie Paul Perkins has been getting more work. Perkins has 62 of his 112 carries and 271 of his 456 rushing yards on the season in the last 4 games. That computes to a 4.37 yds/carry average of the last 4 games. Rookie Sterling Shepard is a shifty quick twitch guy out of the slot. Shepard does most of his work within 10 yards of the line of scrimmage over the middle of the field.
The game breaker of course is the electric Odell Beckham. Gunter did a nice job on him in the October meeting limiting Beckham to just 5-56 and the 1 TD coming with 2:54 left and the NYG down 14 which is usually when Capers shuts it down. Beckham works outside the numbers and has caught 82 of his 101 season receptions between 1-20 yards (60 in the 1-10 yard range). The NY Daily News notes the feared Beckham slant where a short completion turns into a TD thanks to his speed.
Football Outsiders ranks the NYG OL as the 2nd best pass protection unit but only 24th in run blocking (GB is 19th in run blocking and 11th in pass protection). The NYG start Ex Packer Marshall Newhouse at RT so that should in theory be a free run for Perry/Peppers/Jones/me coming off the left side.
The NYG O has not been grooving of late with some low point totals in the last 5 games of the season:
- Week 17: 13 Points, W, (goofy TD + 2pt conversion on last play lateral by Washington)
- Week 16: 19 Points, L
- Week 15: 17 Points, W
- Week 14: 10 Points, W, (Beckham with a 61-yard slant and run for the only TD)
- Week 13: 14 Points, L
#19 in Points Per Game at 19.4/per
#29 in Rushing Yard Per Game at 88.3/per
#17 in Passing Yards Per Game at 242.3/per
#25 in Yards Per Game at 330.7/per
#28 on 3rd Down Conversions at 35.6%/per
#4 in INT with 16 on the season for Eli Manning (Eli has 7 fumbles)
#25 in Yards Per Attempt at 6.73/per for Eli Manning
#28 in Sacks at just 21 on the season suffered by Eli Manning
#4 in Points Per Game at 27.0/per
#20 in Rushing Yard Per Game at 106.3/per
#7 in Passing Yards Per Game at 262.4/per
#8 Yards Per Game at 368.8/per
#2 on 3rd Down Conversions at 46.7%/per
#24 in INT with 7 on the season for Aaron Rodgers
#14 in Yards Per Attempt at 7.26/per for Aaron Rodgers (Rodgers has 7 fumbles)
#12 in Sacks at 35 on the season suffered by Aaron Rodgers
The strength of this NYG team is the D. They spent a lot of money in free agnecy and so far it has paid off. The NYG secondary with thumping S Landon Collins (he replaced HHCD at Alabama) and DRC, Apple, and especially All Pro Janoris Jenkins is a problem. What I fear is a reversion to slump Packers where WR can’t win any 1-on-1s. Meanwhile, ponderous passing plays leave #12 dancing in the pocket with nowhere to go with the ball. Damon Harrison is one of the top NT in the leagues and leads a tough NYG rushing defense. In 2008 and 2012, the NYG front 4 got pressure enabling the NYG to drop 7 in coverage and bottle up the GB attack. The inverse might be true for this NYG squad where a dominant secondary makes the Front 7 look better by being able to hold up man-to-man.
#2 in Points Per Game at 17.8/per
#10 Yards Per Game at 339.7/per
#23 in Passing Yards Per Game at 251.1/per
#3 in Rushing Yards Per Game at 88.6/per
#14 in Sacks with 35 total
#2 in Passes Defended with 97
#4 in INT with 17
#13 in Forced Fumbles with 17
#3 in 3rdDown Conversion at 35.3%
#21 in Points Per Game at 24.3/per
#22 in Yards Per Game at 363.9/per
#31 in Passing Yards Per Game at 269.3/per
#8 in Rushing Yards Per Game at 94.7/per
#6 in Sacks with 40 total
#3 in Passes Defended with 85
#4 in INT with 17 (the Seattle game helped inflate that number)
#27 in Forced Fumbles with 10
#24 in 3rdDown Conversion at 41.2%
This NYG team has enough similarities to the units that knocked out the Packers in previous playoffs matchups that I’m nervous. I’m aware, that GB won in Lambeau against this opponent in week 5. GB won 23-16 coming off its early bye. But in that game, the NYG lost rookie CB Eli Apple to injury early and its other stud CB DRC was limited by a hamstring injury. GB needs to be able to run the ball and be comfortable using short completions, and even pick plays/rub routes for short completions. Having #12 take a deep drop and try and scramble around is not a game plan. The ball needs to be out fast. As the Journal Sentinel preview notes, the NYG have had trouble covering the TE. So a healthy Jared Cook and even the plodding Richard Rodgers need to help open the middle of the field.
Defensively, the NYG attack isn’t terrifying beyond the always possible thunderbolt from Beckham. The formula doesn’t really change here. Stop the run, put the NYG in obvious passing situations and take advantage of Marshall Newhouse still being an NFL starter. There’s Good Eli whose beaten GB twice in Lambeau and Bad Eli who is always willing to throw into coverage. GB will be without Rollins but hopefully Randall can play with a little fire this week.
The weather looks cold but not windy so really the challenge will mostly be on the kickers. Jacob Schum was having a good game against Detroit until his ill-timed shank gave Detroit easy field position to make things mildly interesting and fully annoying at the end.