Why the Packers win – accuracy
Shootout Favors State-Farm Pitchman: So what is the key ingredient that has led Rodgers to take his game to MVP-worthy levels during the latter part of the regular season? In a word, accuracy.
It’s not that he was awful in September and October, but he certainly lacked the overall consistency he’s showing now, which is reflected in the fact that the Packers’ field general’s completion percentage went from about 60 percent in the first six weeks of the year to about 71 percent during his second-half winning streak.
Just like an ace pitcher who is hitting his spots, Rodgers is connecting with his deep receivers in stride, as well as jamming balls into tight windows.
Another key component that has led to his flawless play (see zero interceptions in last 241 pass attempts) has been his field vision in terms of throwing to the area vacated by oncoming blitzers.
Eli Manning, conversely, has been in panic mode all year, as evidenced by how he perceives pressure even when there are no defenders in his immediate vicinity.
In addition to rushing a number of throws, the two-time Super-Bowl champion isn’t seeing wide-open receivers and just hasn’t been very accurate in general.
While Manning doesn’t benefit from the same protection afforded to Rodgers, one of the reasons he may be suffering from an itchy trigger finger is because he realizes that he can’t run away from opponents and extend plays like his counterpart does on a routine basis.
Could the grizzled veteran be in the midst of a rapid decline at his advanced football age (36)? Possibly, but I doubt that’s the case given his incredible ability to avoid injury—or miss a start for that matter—since entering the league in 2004.
The main issue here is that Manning needs better tackle play for him to truly be at ease in the pocket. Neither Ereck Flowers on the blindside nor Bobby Hart on the right offer him that piece of mind that an athletically-limited signal caller so desperately covets.
The Giants’ passing game has experienced considerable year-to-year regression by dropping from the seventh-ranked team with 271.4 yards per game in 2015 down to 17th this season with 242.4 yards per game.
Making matters worse is Manning’s dip in touchdowns over that same period (35 to 26) and increased interception total (14 to 16).
There’s no getting around the fact that the visiting team might as well start packing their tents if their quarterback is forced to throw his team to victory.