It certainly hasn’t been easy but the New York Giants are back in the playoffs, ending a four year postseason drought. Now on Sunday at the Green Bay Packers (4:40 p.m., FOX), the Giants potential run to the Super Bowl again goes through Lambeau.
The Giants' last two Super Bowl trips both included wins at the Packers, a mental edge for a team that has been hot since November. Green Bay comes in on their own hot streak, winners of six straight games with an offense that is really clicking in recent weeks.
1. The secondary is primary
As much as the Giants will need their pass rush to get to Aaron Rodgers on Sunday, the secondary will have to be disciplined if the Giants hope to advance in the playoffs. Rodgers is elusive and has a great pocket presence, willing to hang in the pocket to make throws and good enough with his feet to evade pressure and wait for things to open up down the field.
And with targets such as Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb, the Packers have big play potential at the skill positions.
“I think we can line up with pretty much anybody. I think we've got a group of guys who go out there and play hard and continue to play no matter who's on the other side,” Giants cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie said. “You just go out there and do your job.”
2.Eli can’t be regular season Eli
Come the playoffs, Eli Manning is truly elite, not surprising given that he is twice a Super Bowl MVP.
But Manning can’t be the Manning of this past regular season, and he can’t be the quarterback who has just four touchdowns and four interceptions in the last four games. That kind of performance, especially going up against an elite quarterback counterpart, will lead to an early playoff exit for ‘Big Blue.’
Yet Manning is proven in the playoffs and that is calming for his teammates, despite his down year.
“Having a guy like Eli is exactly what you want, and exactly what you look for in a team that wants to make a deep run,” Giants wide receiver Victor Cruz said. “Having him at the helm, understanding what this is all about, and being in this position before can definitely give us an advantage, at least for the younger guys to look up to him and for us to have that much more confidence in our guys.”
3. Been there but haven’t done that
There’s been a lot of talk this week about the Giants and their last two runs to the Super Bowl, how both championship seasons were Wild Card teams that won in Green Bay. For the 11-5 Giants, it is comforting talk. They’ve been there, they’ve done that.
Except that, not really.
There are only six holdovers from that Giants team that won the Super Bowl in 2011, not exactly some tremendous turnover. This is a team that will have to go out there and build their own legacy.