Green Bay Packers: Why they win, why they lose vs. NY Giants

Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers. Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports
Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers. Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports /
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Like the weary and weathered warrior that has just finished off dozens of willing but inept henchmen in one of those 1970s and 80s martial-arts flicks, the Green Bay Packers have made it through all the obstacles of the regular season and now must polish off their swords and prepare to lock horns with the true samurai masters in the NFL’s dramatic and heart-pounding one-and-done playoff elimination tournament.

Their first challenger is a rather odd 11-5 Giants’ squad that never quite had the look of a Super Bowl contender most of the season. Led by a statuesque 36-year-old quarterback in Eli Manning, New York’s offense is far from a quick-strike, high-flying attack that can pile up points and put games away within minutes.

Save for the exploits of flashy wideout Odell Beckham Jr., the G-Men aren’t equipped with an inordinate amount of game breakers and have yet to produce 30 points or more all season …something the Packers have accomplished in each of their previous four games and six times overall.

The Giants have made it this far on the shoulders of a tenacious defense revitalized through some very astute, if not exorbitant, free-agent additions that have vastly improved this unit at all three levels.

After allowing a season-high 29 points in Week 3, the NFL’s No. 2 overall defense hasn’t conceded more than three touchdowns in a game since.

But if the Steve Spagnuolo-led defense has become an impenetrable fortress, the ascending Packers are an F-14 Tomcat flown by Goose and Iceman in Top Gun (apologies to members of the under 30 crowd that I lost with that reference) that has torpedoed the competition by a 185-112 margin since Week 12.

In the process of cutting the legs from under each opponent, Green Bay’s high-octane attack has tar and feathered some of the league’s preeminent defensive units, including the Texans, Seahawks and Vikings, all of whom are statistically ranked within the top 11 overall.

Sunday’s Wildcard meeting between the Giants and Packers sets up as a battle of polar opposites with the former currying favor with the “Defense Wins Championships” faction and the latter winning the support of those that subscribe to the theory that a great – not pretty good (sorry, Eli) – quarterback is needed nine times out of 10 in today’s NFL to go far in the postseason.

While fans from both sides would love to see their respective teams make a statement by dominating the enemy in no uncertain terms, the reality is that each of these rosters will more than likely bring their “A” games to frigid Lambeau Field in a win-or-grab-the-golf-clubs scenario that will probably be decided in the fourth quarter.

Will Aaron Rodgers continue his late-season magic-carpet ride? Can the Giants muster another rushing performance in an effort to keep Green Bay’s MVP hopeful bolted to the bench and sipping chicken soup?

While these and many other questions won’t be answered until game time, there’s no harm in examining the various ways each participant can win or lose this game in the interest of providing a bit a clarity for the legions of Packer backers and Big Blue loyalists feverishly rubbing their crystal balls.