The New York Giants famously ended the New England Patriots’ perfect season run back in 2008. Can they repeat history this week versus the Green Bay Packers?
That’s the million dollar question heading into Sunday’s showdown between these two very potent squads.
On paper, Green Bay looks infallible. Quarterback Aaron Rodgers has been on a historically great run this year and, as it stands, is the first player in league history to have a 100-plus rating in 11 consecutive outings. Last year, against a better Giants defense than the one he will encounter this weekend, Rodgers put up 404 yards, four scores, no interceptions and a 139.9 rating on 25-of-37 passing. Wide receiver Greg Jennings had 142 yards on seven catches in that one, and Jordy Nelson had 124 yards and an 80-yard score as well.
Much of Rodgers’ success has come as the direct result of the contributions he’s gotten from his receivers. Aside from Jennings’ fairly regular and consistent production, Nelson has put up five receiving touchdowns in the past four games. In Green Bay’s last win against the Detroit Lions on Thanksgiving Day, James Jones had three receptions for 94 yards – including a 65-yard score.
The defending champions are ranked first in scoring, third in passing and fourth in total yards in the NFL.
Of course, the Giants are no slouches on defense.
As it stands, New York has emerged victorious in 20 of the last 24 games in which Justin Tuck has had a sack. That streak is particularly meaningful to Green Bay given the fact that Tuck has had a sack versus the Packers in each of their last two battles. And Tuck will get a little help in this one from second-year up-and-comer Jason Pierre-Paul who has racked up 15 sacks in 17 games.
Although Rodgers doesn’t make many mistakes, if he does, Corey Webster will make him pay for it. Webster has recorded four interceptions in six meetings against the Packers.
Much of the onus for this game will ultimately fall on the shoulders of Giants quarterback Eli Manning. In the early days of the 2011 season, Manning stirred up a little controversy when he referred to himself as one of the elite passers in the league. He’ll get a chance to prove that claim against a very aggressive secondary, but an admittedly average -- and at times below average -- overall defense.
Manning, who has thrown for 20 touchdowns and over 3,300 yards this season, has the NFL’s best passer rating when it matters most – 123.7 in the fourth quarter. If New York is close and time is winding down, you can almost always count on him to come through in clutch fashion – the last few games notwithstanding.
The Giants are coming off a horrendous loss to the New Orleans Saints this past Monday; however, on the bright side, running back D.J. Ware had the best game of his career with eight catches and Victor Ortiz similarly shined with 157 yards and two scores. Whether or not these two can have encore performances, this time in a winning battle, remains to be seen.
At the end of the day, the Giants are always a threat – and they’re probably the last team in the league with a legitimate shot to topple the Packers. Will they actually end up ending the undefeated streak? That remains to be seen. But it's still a fact that they have the best shot of any remaining Green Bay opponent to do so.
Packers vs. Giants kicks off at 11:05 eastern time, Sunday.