Today's edition of The Mailbag on Giants.com.
How have the Giants changed since their Week 5 loss to the Packers?
The most significant change is the improvement of the defense. In that loss on Oct. 9, the Packers gained 406 yards, the second time in the first five games a Giants opponent had more than 400 yards. The Giants gave up more than 400 yards just twice in the last 11 games. No one was certain how good the Giants defense was then. Now, it is universally acknowledged as one of the NFL's best units. The other significant difference is the significant contributions from young players like Eli Apple, Paul Perkins, Andrew Adams, Jerell Adams, and Romeo Okwara (Sterling Shepard already had 20 catches when he arrived in Green Bay). The Giants likely wouldn't be in the playoffs without their help.
What outside element - weather, coaching experience, road fans - could have the biggest impact on Sunday's game?
Frankly, I don't think any outside element will influence the outcome. First I wouldn't put coaching experience in that category. It's a big factor in a team's preparedness and sideline decision-making, which are hardly outside elements. Obviously, Mike McCarthy has significantly more experience as a postseason head coach – he's 8-7 – than Ben McAdoo. But McAdoo was with him for most of those games. He is a rookie head coach who knows how to prepare his team for a postseason game. And McAdoo's sideline decisions won't be influenced by the fact that it's a postseason game. Weather? It will be cold, but nothing that will affect the outcome. Fans? They'll be loud, but won't affect the outcome. All that matters is the players and coaches, their plans and execution. Everything else is irrelevant.