Giants.com highlights three keys for the Giants to come away with a "W" on Sunday"
Just like in their 2007 and 2011 playoff runs, the New York Giants will travel to play a Green Bay Packers team they faced in the regular season. And like those years, the Giants lost the first meeting.
Back in Week 5, Big Blue fell, 23-16, at Lambeau Field, extending its losing streak to three games at the time. But the Giants would win their next six games and nine of the final 11 to set up the rematch in conditions in which the temperature is expected to drop into the single digits.
"We just need to play better football all around," said first-year coach Ben McAdoo, a former Super Bowl-winning assistant in Green Bay, of what needs to change for his team from the first meeting to Sunday. "The game is simple this time of year. It's about fundamentals. You are who you are schematically. You need to fit together tight like nuts and bolts. The fundamentals, the blocking, the tackling, taking care of the ball, handling the ball. The Duke is like a bar of gold this time of year."
With that in mind, here are three keys to victory for the Giants on Sunday:
ACCOUNT FOR AARON'S 'SECOND PLAY'
No one in the history of the quarterback position has been much better than Aaron Rodgers at extending plays. The 2016 touchdown leader (40) often is pegged for a sack only to escape and throw a touchdown – just like he did in the de facto NFC North championship game in Week 17 against the Lions. On one scoring play, he burned 8.78 seconds from snap to pass before finding Geronimo Allison for a 10-yard touchdown.
The scramble drill is something Rodgers and his receivers practice, and you can be sure the Giants are doing the same thing to defend it this week. "It's almost a second play when he breaks a scramble," linebacker and defensive captain Jonathan Casillas said. "It's almost a second play during the play. It's like an audible almost, and that has to be accounted for."
COOL DOWN THE POCKET
In the words of McAdoo, the "pocket was hot" in their Week 5 meeting. Eli Manning was sacked three times – and Odell Beckham Jr. once on a trick play – while the Packers racked up seven quarterback hits. The result was an 18-for-35 night for Manning for 199 yards, one touchdown and no interceptions. He also lost a fumble that led to a Green Bay field goal and an 11-point lead at the half. The Giants were never able to recover up front as they gained just 43 yards on the ground compared to Green Bay's 147.
TAKE CARE OF THE BALL
The No. 1 problem for the Giants all regular season was taking care of the ball. Their 27 giveaways were tied for eighth-most in the NFL and the most among all 12 playoff teams. The 25 takeaways have been able to counteract the issue somewhat, but that won't fly in the postseason. Meanwhile, Green Bay forced 25 turnovers in the regular season, 13 of which came in its final four games. That included six takeaways (five interceptions) against the NFC West champion Seattle Seahawks in Week 14.