The Giants will play the Packers in the first round in Lambaue. It’s the worst draw they could have gotten. The Lions in Detroit would have been ideal and even the Seahawks in Seattle would have been ok as they have not been that good since losing Earl Thomas.
The Packers are the league’s hottest team and dominated the Giants in their earlier season match up. However the Giants are a different team now than they were then. Also, if you look at who the Packers have beat on this 6 game winning streak its not a very impressive list. The one quality win was against a not as good as advertised Seahawk team. Rodgers is a great player and is playing lights out, but they haven’t played a defense this good during the streak the likelihood of continuing to have no interceptions for 7 straight weeks is low. The rest of the team is ok but nothing special. The one thing that scares me is what Rodgers can do with his legs. He can escape pressure and make things happen. Barring such heroics that Giants could hold their own in Green Bay. It would be an upset but not a shocker for the Giants to come out of there with a win and head to Dallas to play the Cowboys for a third time this year.
The game plan will have to involve even a bigger move towards Perkins and away from Jennings. Its not a coincidence that Perkins finished the season with a very respectable 4.1 yards per carry versus the anemic 3.3 yards per carry that Jennings provided. Manning will also have to get enough time to throw some deep balls. His game has clearly slipped, likely the result of age, but he can certainly still get hot and do enough to score the points needed to win with a very good Giant defense. Lastly, now that we are in the playoffs the Giants should use Beckham more as a punt returner. He had at least 3 excellent run backs that were called back due to penalties. He showed his potential as a returner. In the regular season sits likely not worth risking the injury but its lose and go home so now is the time to take the risk. I think the Giants will go in and surprise some people and pull off a 20-19 victory to advance to the second round (but if Jenkins is still injured, I don’t think the Giants can win).
The Giants finished the regular season with strong win over a good Redskin team in a game meaningless to the Giants but it bounced the Redskins out of the playoffs. The Giant defense continues its excellent play that has been in place over the second half of the season.
The Giant offense once again didn’t score much, but this game seemed a bit different than the others as of late. Firstly, the Giants’ offense moved the ball well in the first half when they were fully staffed. The offense stalled in the second half largely as a result of OBJ being benched for smart and precautionary reasons. For the first time all season Paul Perkins was inserted into the starting lineup and he was given the most carries. He responded well by running for over 100 yards (first such game recorded by a Giant this year) and subjectively looking good both by finding holes and physically moving piles. He brings a skill set that Jennings likely never had and certainly doesn’t have any more. With a line that can best be described as mediocre you can’t also have a running back like Jennings who is not dynamic. Optimists will point to the 2007 season when rookie Ahmad Bradshaw got few carries until the end of the season and then led them in the post-season. The second difference in the game was the Manning pass to King for 44 yards setting up the game winning field goal. It was the first completed deep pass by Manning in recent memory. I’m hopeful that gives manning the confidence to start hitting receivers downfield. Most of the long plays OBJ has scored on in the second half of the season were short passes that he used his skills to turn into long plays. The Giant defense was dominant in the first half when Janoris Jenkins played and good enough in the second half when he didn’t. It’s not that the drop off to game MVP DRC is a big one. It’s not. DRC still is a top-flight corner, even if not the Pro Bowler that Jenkins was this year. It’s that on passing plays teams are going with at least 3 receivers and therefore going against your third cornerback. Downgrading from DRC to someone like Wade as a third corner hurts the defense tremendously. As the saying goes, you are only as good as your weakest link. Jenkins didn’t play in the second half due to soreness. The Giants must hope that was a precaution and not indicative of a real recurrence of his recent back injury. While there were some rumors of JPP being ahead of schedule those were mostly shot down. JPP probably played the best game of any defender the last time the packers and Giants played and his presence will be missed. Of course it was early in the year when Vernon was playing through a hand injury. Once that healed, Vernon became the player the Giants hoped they would get when they gave him his huge contract.
Speaking of which, I’ve never seen a slew of free agent signings as successful as the ones the Giants have had this year. In addition to Vernon becoming one of the game’s best 2-way defensive ends, Snacks Harrison completely transformed the Giants rush defense. The pass defense looks much better against a 3rd and 7 versus a 3rd and 2. He could be the best run-stuffer in the league and is under appreciated. It’s no coincidence that the Jets defense fell apart this year in his absence while the Giants went from easy to run on to very hard to run on. He is that dominant. And Jenkins at the corner we already discussed. It’s a shame JPP is not back because this defense would be ready to dominate. Free agency isn’t the only place Reese did a good job. The draft class is looking good as well. Apple took over a starting corner job and has recovered from a mid-season slump to be very reliable. Shepard had put up good stats for a rookie receiver. Thompson looked very promising at free safety before an early injury cost him the year. Perkins could be their running back of the future and even Adams has contributed at tight end.
The Giants finished with 11 wins one above our 10 win preseason prediction. Given that Vegas on average predicted an 8-win season, we will put our prediction in the win bucket.
Ari has been an avid Giants fan since 1979. He attends many home games and has attended the Giants last 2 Superbowl victories. This blog will talk about anything related to the New York Giants. Ari also blogs about the New York Knicks, at http://www.ariglassknicksblog.com