How the Giants and Packers match up for Sunday’s wild card game at Green Bay:
WHEN THE GIANTS HAVE THE BALL
QB: It hasn’t been a fantastic year for Eli Manning. He’s thrown for 4,027 yards and 26 touchdowns, his lowest totals in the past three years, and 16 interceptions, his highest total in that same span. Yet he finds himself in the playoffs, which is where he thrives with an 8-3 career record and a pair of Super Bowl MVP awards. The Giants will need some Manning Magic to get the offense going.
RB: Rookie Paul Perkins has been an electric addition to the rotation, an ascension capped by last week’s first career start and 102-yard rushing performance. Vet Rashad Jennings remains a big part of the group, too. The Giants averaged just 88.2 rushing yards per game, 29th in the NFL.
WR/TE: Odell Beckham Jr. is one of the top receivers in the NFL and had a career-high 101 catches in his first 16-game season. Rookie Sterling Shepard has had many key grabs on third and fourth downs. Victor Cruz is good for one or two key grabs a game. TE Will Tye has become a steady target and his 48 catches are third most on the team.
LINE: It’s a much-beleaguered unit, but has shown some improvement of late. LT Ereck Flowers has struggled, but LG Justin Pugh has played well. Manning has been sacked just 21 times, but that has more to do with him getting rid of the ball than the protection itself.
SPECIAL TEAMS: Robbie Gould is 10-for-10 on FGs since coming to the Giants in October and is 6-for-6 in his career in the playoffs. Brad Wing has been a weapon putting 28 punts inside the 20 versus only eight touchbacks. Dwayne Harris is a solid returner but is a Pro Bowler for his coverage on kicks.
LINE: NT Letroy Guion led Green Bay linemen with 49 tackles. DT Mike Daniels has 20.0 sacks since the start of the 2013 season. Rookie DE Kenny Clark has batted down two passes and has two fumble recoveries.
LINEBACKERS: Clay Matthews has 72.5 career sacks, second-most in franchise history, but has been dealing with injuries and missed four games this season while being limited in six others. Nick Perry leads the team with 11.0 sacks this season. Julius Peppers is a future Hall of Famer who leads all active players with 143.5 career sacks.
SECONDARY: The Packers are dealing with injuries at corner but safeties Morgan Burnett and Ha Ha Clinton-Dix have played well. Safety Micah Hyde could step in at cornerback if Damarious Randall (knee) and Quinton Rollins (neck) are unable to play.
WHEN THE PACKERS HAVE THE BALL
QB: Aaron Rodgers has not thrown an interception in his last 245 pass attempts, the second-best stretch in team history. He needs 50 more to break Bart Starr’s record of 294 set in 1964. During that time he has thrown 18 TDs and the Packers are 6-1. He’s at his most dangerous when he is on the move, extending plays in the backfield, buying time with his legs.
RB: Ty Montgomery still wears the number 88 he wore as a receiver, but he’s become the Packers’ leading rusher since they lost Eddie Lacy to an ankle injury in Week 6, had James Starks hurt (concussion), and had to get creative to find a ball-carrier. He has 77 carries for 457 yards and three TDs, averaging 5.9 yards per carry. He’s also caught 44 passes for 348 yards. FB Aaron Ripkowski isn’t just a blocker; he’s had 34 carries for 150 yards and two TDs.
WR/TE: Jordy Nelson led the NFL with 14 receiving TDs this season after missing all of 2015 with a knee injury. He’s also caught 97 passes for 1,257 yards. Davante Adams came up 3 yards shy of 1,000 but added 12 TDs to give the Packers a dangerous duo. Want to make it a dangerous trio? Randall Cobb has missed three games due to injury, including the last two with an ankle issue, but could play against the Giants. He’s caught 60 passes for 610 yards and 4 TDs. TE Jared Cook missed time in the middle of the season with an ankle injury but his 13.5 yards per catch since Week 11 are the third-most among NFL tight ends.
LINE: RG T.J. Lang was selected to his first career Pro Bowl. C Corey Linsley came off PUP in midseason to become the starter. LT David Bakhtiari is a first alternate for the Pro Bowl and has started all but two games at left tackle since the start of his rookie season in 2013.
SPECIAL TEAMS: Mason Crosby has been good on 26 of 30 FG attempts. Cobb is a dangerous returner if healthy, but has had just 4 attempts this season. Micah Hyde handles most of the returns.
LINE: DT Damon Harrison is a monster in the middle with an astonishing 86 tackles, second-most on the team. He’s also gotten pressure on QBs and registered a sack against Washington. DE Olivier Vernon hasn’t had a full sack since JPP had surgery in early December. Rookie Romeo Okwara stepped in for JPP and has played well.
LINEBACKERS: Jonathan Casillas is second on the team in tackles (96) but the unit is mostly a rotation of steady veterans without a star. Keenan Robinson and Kelvin Sheppard handle the middle linebacker role depending on the personnel grouping and Robinson has been key in covering opposing tight ends. Devon Kennard has spent some time as a defensive lineman as well as a linebacker and is the strongest pass-rusher of the group.
SECONDARY: The strength of the defense and the team. Janoris Jenkins is a shutdown cornerback, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie is having a career year with 6 INTs despite a more limited role at age 30, and rookie Eli Apple is blossoming into a nice player. Meanwhile, S Landon Collins is a defensive player of the year candidate with 125 tackles, five interceptions and four sacks.