Pack out for Lambeau revenge against Giants

Tim Fuller—X02835
Jan 1

They say history repeats itself, and the proof is in the tundra this weekend when the Packers and Giants meet. This will be the third time these two squads have faced off in the playoffs at Lambeau Field and Packers fans would probably just rather not remember the first two.Giants fans, on the other hand, look at this matchup as a sign from the football gods. The last two postseason trips to Green Bay for the Giants and quarterback Eli Manning were part of improbable Super Bowl runs. In 2007, New York squeaked out a 23-20 victory over Brett Favre and the Packers. And in 2011, the Giants smashed Green Bay on the road before beating the Patriots (again) in the Super Bowl.The first one was the NFC Championship Game, so it stings badly. But the second was the end to an incredible 15-1 season for the Packers, part of the best season of Aaron Rodgers career. After a slow start to the season, he’s found that form again, with Green Bay ripping off six consecutive wins to close the season after Rodgers promised the team would “run the table.”Keys to the game: The Packers’ offense starts and ends with Rodgers, who has been on fire during the winning streak. Over that stretch, Rodgers has thrown 15 touchdown passes and zero interceptions and logged a 121.0 passer rating.But it’s not just Rodgers’ arm that the Giants’ defense should worry about. Rodgers also finished as the Packers’ second-leading rusher behind Ty Montgomery, recording 369 yards on 67 carries.Rodgers has such a good feel for the pocket that he can time his escape when the pocket collapses and dart past defensive linemen trying to engulf him.The Giants’ defense might not be able to slow Rodgers down, but it certainly can start by keeping the slippery quarterback in the pocket and forcing him to step up.Giants QB Eli Manning has had some big moments at the expense of the Packers, none bigger than upset victories at Lambeau Field in the NFC Championship Game during the 2007 season and in the divisional round of the playoffs in the 2011 season.Now New York is waiting for Manning to flip the switch and show that playoff magic. But the 36-year-old had one of his most lethargic performances when the Giants came to Lambeau in early October. Green Bay defensive coordinator Dom Capers pressured Manning into an erratic 18-of-35 passing performance for 199 yards and a late touchdown in garbage time as the Packers prevailed 23-16.Matchups to watch:• Packers WRs Jordy Nelson, Davante Adams and Randall Cobb vs. Giants CBs Janoris Jenkins, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Eli Apple. The Giants’ cornerbacks have done a solid job this season with limiting the opposition’s top receivers’ total yardage. Jenkins, the leader of the pack, is coming off a back injury and was still sore at midweek. If the Giants are to have success with slowing quarterback Aaron Rodgers down, they will need to make sure their corners blanket Nelson, Adams and Cobb.• Giants WRs Odell Beckham Jr., Victor Cruz and Sterling Shepard vs. Packers DBs. Green Bay was without its top two CBs when it topped the Giants 23-16 at Lambeau Field on Oct. 9. Even without the injured pair of Sam Shields and Damarious Randall, the Packers surprisingly handcuffed New York’s elite trio. The electrifying Beckham was targeted a team-high 12 times by QB Eli Manning but caught just five for 56 yards, including an 8-yard touchdown in the closing minutes as the Giants tried to rally from a 14-point deficit. Shepard had just two catches for 14 yards in seven targets, while Cruz was shut out on two throws his way. Though Randall has a shot to play after dropping out of the season finale at Detroit on Sunday night with a knee injury, fellow starter Quinten Rollins will be hard-pressed to bounce back in a week’s time. Rollins was in the concussion protocol at midweek, increasing the uncertainty for his unavailability this weekend. Depending on Randall’s status, the Packers may have to depend on LaDarius Gunter, Micah Hyde and possibly undrafted rookie Herb Waters, who was promoted from the practice squad this week. Waters made the switch from wide receiver to cornerback during his season-long stint on the practice squad.PLAYER SPOTLIGHT: Packers S Andrew Adams. The undrafted rookie free agent has mostly been solid in coverage since inheriting the starting job from the injured Darian Thompson. However, Adams hasn’t really been tested deep downfield and has had mixed results when he has been, such as last week when he lost Washington receiver Pierre Garcon in coverage. The Packers have receivers who can stretch the field, which means Adams is going to have to be alert and not fall for double-pumps or any other trickery that might end up leaving him trailing a receiver.The Sports Xchange/Reuters contributed to this report.