Ben McAdoo said Aaron Rodgers is “playing out of his mind right now.”
He compared the Packers quarterback’s recent run — he has thrown 18 touchdown passes without an interception in the past seven games, and the Packers are 6-1 in that stretch — to successful stretches in 2011 and 2013. Rodgers was in MVP form and McAdoo had an up-close view of the display as a Packers assistant coach.
“He’s on fire,” McAdoo said. “Taking care of the ball, he’s moving very well in and out of the pocket, making all the throws . . . He’s definitely playing with a killer instinct.”
McAdoo also suggested that just because he has a history with Rodgers as his former position coach does not mean he has an answer to all of that.
“I don’t have any Kryptonite,” he said.
No, but he might have the next-best thing: the Giants’ defense.
The unit that has carried the Giants into the playoffs will be put to its toughest test yet Sunday when it faces Rodgers and the Packers in a wild-card game at Lambeau Field. And vice versa.
Remember, this is a defense that led a team that has not scored 30 points in any game to 11 wins and a playoff berth. It’s a defense that has allowed a league-low 25 offensive touchdowns.
They’re playing out of their minds, too.
For the Giants to be successful on Sunday, that will have to continue. The Packers average 27 points, a number the Giants’ offense has reached only three times, and not since Nov. 27 in Cleveland. The Giants have shown no signs that their perpetually ready-to-break-out offense is going to break out, so it’ll be up to the defense to keep the game within reach. That likely means allowing fewer than 20 points, a scoring ceiling the Giants haven’t been able to crack in more than a month.
Don’t count on the elements in Green Bay to cool off Rodgers, either. Though temperatures are expected to be in the teens, the forecast does not indicate any snow or strong winds for Sunday. Rodgers isn’t really affected by that stuff anyway.
“When he’s on fire, the weather isn’t really a factor for him,” McAdoo said. “When it’s cold and he’s outside, he plays the same game and plays very well. Maybe not the same game, maybe a little different outside in the elements, but he has big hands and he can handle the balls and make all the throws.”
The NYPD — New York Pass Defense — should be at close to full strength. When the teams played in October, the Giants were without Eli Apple for most of the game and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie was coming back from an injury. Rodgers threw for 259 yards and two touchdowns in that game, but he also was picked off twice by Janoris Jenkins and the Giants had almost zero pressure on him in the pocket.
Jenkins, the Giants’ best cornerback, missed the Eagles game in Week 16 with a bruised back and was limited Sunday against Washington but should be ready to play in Green Bay. As for the pass rush, it has 10 sacks in the last five games, including four against Washington.
“We look forward to the challenge,” McAdoo said of facing Rodgers and the Packers, who won their final six games to capture the NFC North title and earn the right to host this game. “It’s one heck of a football team that has found a winning formula.”
So have the Giants. But theirs is a different formula, on a different side of the ball.
On Sunday, only one will be revealed as the true Kryptonite for the other.
Aaron Rodgers has been superhuman in his last seven games:
Comp. % 69.7
Total yds. 2,018