NFC Playoff Preview
Wild Card Round features three Super Bowl champion quarterbacks
No. 5 New York Giants @ No. 4 Green Bay Packers – Lambeau Field, Sunday 4:40 PM ET.
In a familiar scenario in the NFC Playoffs, we have yet another matchup between Rodgers and Manning. Eli Manning and the Giants don’t much mind going into the frozen tundra that is Lambeau Field to do a little dirty work in January though, in 2008 and also 2012 the G-men would take home the coveted Lombardi trophy, and on each occasion the road to greatness went through Lambeau.
Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers are perhaps the hottest team going into the playoffs and once again Rodgers showed us that when you just r-e-l-a-x, the results tend to be positive. The Pack had a rough stretch in November losing four straight and it was then that the “bad man” out of Wisconsin stated he believed the Packers could run the table down the stretch and that they did. The guys in green and yellow fired off six straight to end the season and were crowned NFC North champions.
It’s the same old problems in Green Bay though, a struggling defense and a phenomenal offense led by No.12. With Tim Montgomery shouldering the load as wide receiver turned running back, Jordy Nelson finally healthy again, and Jared Cook becoming a safety blanket, the Packers must continue their hot pace and score fast and often. Guys like Clay Matthews, Julius Peppers, and Micah Hyde must come with their hard hats if the Packers intend to stop Eli Manning and his arsenal of Wrs in New York.
As always, public enemy No.1 and the focal point of attack will be to limit Odell Beckham, Jr. from breaking a big one. Rookie Sterling Shepard should be a continuous target for Manning this game as ODB will receive double-teams all afternoon. Shepard racked up eight touchdowns and 683 yards of receiving in his debut to the NFL, and in a short amount of time he has Manning’s trust and the eyes of the Packers’ secondary on full alert.
In a game that will likely be the best of opening weekend, Aaron Rodgers’ offensive line will be in for the long haul. The G-men boast a Top 10 Defense, 35 sacks on the year, and the swarming secondary led by Landon Collins and Janoris Jenkins have 17 interceptions as a unit. This game will come down to the rushing attacks from both teams, because there’s an obvious abundance of talent at WR and QB, and who wins this game will be whoever can balance more run on offense to keep the opposing defense honest.
Prediction: New York Giants 41- Green Bay Packers 38
No. 6 Detroit Lions @ No. 3 Seattle Seahawks, Century Link Field, 8:15 PM ET
There’s something to be said about consistency, and Pete Carroll knows just that. The boys from the Northwest are no strangers to landing in the NFC Playoffs, and with six straight playoff appearances for Carroll and company, the fans (12th Man!) are getting used to the level of winning also. Richard Sherman, Kam Chancellor, and Russell Wilson have instilled the working man’s attitude in Seattle year in, year out. As per usual, the defense continues to carry the boom and the offense feeds off their energy. Russell Wilson is still clutch and Doug Baldwin is still pissed off at the world. The disappointing Thomas Rawls has yet to come into his role as the feature back this season after the retirement of Marshawn Lynch. Rawls eclipsed the 1,000-yard mark in his career so far, but only 300+ yards this season assuming the role as head man in the backfield.
The Lions biggest concerns heading into Saturday’s matchup will be to slow down Michael Bennett, protect Stafford, and have a sound gameplay for four quarters. One thing to be said about Head Coach Jim Caldwell, and the Detroit Lions is that they are never down and out. Countless comebacks this season, along with letting games slip away in the fourth quarter have been the good and evil for the Lions.
Stafford, playing at an elite MVP level still needs a solid RB to accompany the weapons in the passing game. Theo Riddick poses a threat as a solid receiver out the backfield, but as an every down back he still lacks the skill and size.
It will be on Stafford to play mistake-free, dial back his gun-slinger mentality for one game in order to beat a talented and more experienced Seattle defense. The order will be a tall task for Stafford, but don’t count out one of the best QBs in the NFL. In the end, the home-field advantage in Seattle is the deciding factor for me.
Prediction : Detroit Lions 21- Seattle Seahawks 35