It’s time for the Wild Card Round of the NFL Playoffs, which also means that we suddenly have four games to worry about this weekend instead of the typical sixteen or so. Of course, our Green Bay Packers are playing this weekend, thanks to their incredible hot streak as they ran the table over the past six games.
Will Aaron Rodgers be able to solve the New York Giants’ defense? Or will playoff hero Eli Manning rise like a phoenix out of a turnover-filled 2016 season to lead Big Blue to another postseason victory at Lambeau Field?
It probably should not come as a surprise that APC is picking the Packers this week — after all, we are a Packers blog run by Packers fans. Here are our complete picks for this week’s games.
As an added bonus, APC narrowly picks the Packers to cover the 4.5-point spread, with our average score ending up at about 27-21 in favor of Green Bay.
2017 Wild Card Picks
|Game||OAK @ HOU||DET @ SEA||MIA @ PIT||NYG @ GB||NYG-GB score|
|Game||OAK @ HOU||DET @ SEA||MIA @ PIT||NYG @ GB||NYG-GB score|
|CONSENSUS||HOU (11-2)||SEA (11-2)||PIT (13-0)||GB (13-0)||27-21|
As an added bonus for this week, many of APC’s contributors have also discussed our predictions at length, giving a paragraph or two apiece on why we believe the Packers will advance. Here are our reasonings for the picks.
Evan “Tex” Western
Packers defeat Giants, 24-20
The Packers’ defense will need to force some turnovers if they are to go on a magical playoff run, even with Damarious Randall looking like he’s ready to go for Sunday. The lucky thing is that Eli Manning is coming to town, and he has been like Santa Claus at times this year, with six multi-interception games, 16 picks total, and seven fumbles.
Even against a stout Giants defense, I can’t see the Packers being held under 20 points with the way Aaron Rodgers is playing, and they have the perfect matchup weapon in Jared Cook to attack the middle of the field. Furthermore, the Giants haven’t scored more than 19 in any of their last five games. I bet they get to 20, but no more thanks to a few ill-timed turnovers, including one near the end of the game that saves Green Bay from another playoff loss on the final play.
Jason B. Hirschhorn
Packers defeat Giants 28-17
The Giants probably possess the best defense in the playoffs while the Packers possess one of the worst, so the possibility of an ugly win for New York certainly exists. However, Aaron Rodgers and the offense have played as well as any non-Falcons unit over the past month. Meanwhile, Eli Manning has thrown as many interceptions as touchdowns over the past three weeks, and looks out of sorts to a degree not seen from the veteran quarterback in several years. All of those factors, combined with home-field advantage, weigh in Green Bay's favor.
Packers defeat Giants, 31-28
Aaron Rodgers is in the midst of the longest stretch of his career between interceptions. His last interception came 245 passes ago in the dreadful Titans loss. On the other hand, the Giants defense has intercepted at least one pass in each of their last five games. Who’s going to blink first?
My money's on the red hot Rodgers finding a way to win.
Packers defeat Giants, 27-17
It’ll be an entertaining game from a matchup perspective, as the scorching offense of the Packers goes up against the expensive, stingy defense of the Giants. My faith in the outcome lies in my belief in the Green Bay offensive line to keep Rodgers upright, and my lack of faith in Eli Manning. I understand that the Packers defense is generally terrible, especially on the boundaries. But with Clay Matthews getting healthier, Dean Lowry doing impressive things, and Julius Peppers’ brute old-man strength, I’m seeing a pair of pressure-induced interceptions being thrown by Manning. Besides, each team will be facing a lot of 3rd and 6+ yards to go, and in that situation, I’m siding with Aaron Rodgers every single time.
Packers 27, Giants 20
Two of the hottest teams in the league come face to face at Lambeau. Should be as entertaining as the past playoff games between the two. The red hot Aaron Rodgers against the suffocating defense of the Giants. This will be the biggest test Rodgers has had since the Packers began running the table. On the other side of the ball, we have the poor Giants offense against the poor Packers defense. Eli Manning should be able to take advantage of the lack of depth at corner for the Packers. This will be a dogfight to the end but Rodgers does just enough to send the Packers to the next round.
Packers 21, Giants 17
I have no confidence in this prediction whatsoever. The Packers have been rolling over teams, but they haven’t faced a defense like this all season. The Giant offense is pretty terrible, but the Packers have one healthy corner. If the Packer defense can’t get to Eli, or if they get behind early, I think the Giants win. If the Packers can keep the offense going and stay out ahead, they can take this. Green Bay has owned good defense/bad offense teams this year. Hopefully they have one more in them. Jared Cook will have multiple scores in this one.
Packers 28, Giants 24
Since the Giants derailed the Packers’ 2011 season, the book on beating Aaron Rodgers has been simple: get pressure with your front four and drop as many bodies into coverage as possible, hammering the wide receivers as you go. It worked for New York six years ago in part because the Packers’ offensive line wasn’t close to the pass protecting machine that it is today. Marshall Newhouse even started 13 games for Green Bay that year, although Chad Clifton returned for the playoffs. Now, Newhouse will be manning the right tackle spot for the Giants, and I think the difference between the offensive lines and the protection they afford their quarterbacks will be the difference in this game.
Packers defeat Giants 28-21.
Aaron Rodgers was just voted NFC Offensive Player of the Month—and with good reason. In his last four games, he has 11 TD’s, 0 INT’s, an average passer rating of 125.1 and an average completion percentage of 70.6%. But the numbers don’t tell the full story. He’s played out of his mind. Whether he’s throwing pinpoint passes 40+ yards deep with the visible effort of someone tossing a tennis ball to a dog, or shimmying away from swarming defenders like a greased pig, he’s been his best self down the stretch—and Aaron Rodgers at his best is virtually unstoppable. Sure, the Giants have a very good defense. In fact, they finished the season ranked 2nd in defensive DVOA. Other top 10 teams on that list include Philadelphia, Seattle, Houston and Minnesota. What do those teams all have in common, I wonder.. My thesis here is simply that with Rodgers playing at this level right now, there’s no amount of metrics that will convince me he can be stopped. I’ll need to see that to believe it.
Eli Manning: He's regressed. Call it old age, call it undiagnosed tendonitis, whatever. This is not the same quarterback who has twice stunned the Packers in the playoffs. His arm is spent.
OBJ: Ok yeah he’s the best. Should probably cover that guy.
Packers secondary: It’s banged up. It’s a skeleton crew. But that unit has wavered between bad, ok and lucky all year. I’m not incredibly worried.