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Notebook: Jordan Love challenge; injury news

WINK-MARTINDALE

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – A day after the Green Bay Packers won their third consecutive game and improved to 6-6 last week, The Athletic ran a story with the headline, "After upsetting the Chiefs, Packers are a team nobody should want to face."

Well, the Giants have no choice. The NFL schedule mandates that they host the Packers Monday night in MetLife Stadium. The 4-8 Giants have won two in a row and are coming off their bye week. Green Bay has won four of its last five games and is 6-6 and seeded seventh in the NFC playoff race.

Giants coach Brian Daboll is not at all surprised by the Packers' recent surge.

"They've got good players," Daboll said. "Got a lot of respect for (head coach) Matt (LeFleur). He's a heck of a coach. I think (Green Bay quarterback Jordan) Love has done a really good job of improving week to week. He's a very talented player. Really an ideal system. Relative to, go back all the way to, what, '92 or '91, where (former Packers quarterback) Brett (Favre) is traded (by) Atlanta and plays for however many years, 17 there or 16, and had one losing season. Draft another guy in the first round who's a Hall of Famer, too (Aaron Rodgers). Got to sit a little while and watch him and then took over, and maybe get two or three, I don't know. So, 30 years, three guys."

Love hasn't ascended to the same stratosphere as Favre and Rodgers, but he has played exceptionally well in the last month.

In victories against the Chargers, Lions and Chiefs the last three weeks, Love threw for 857 yards and eight touchdowns with no interceptions. He completed 25 of 36 throws (69.4%) for 267 yards and three scores for a 118.6 rating vs. Kansas City. It was his fourth game with 3+ TD passes and a 100+ rating this season, which is tied for the most in the NFL. Love ranks fifth in the NFL with 22 touchdown passes and he has streaks of three consecutive games with a 100+ rating and four in a row with 2+ touchdown passes.

"He's accurate," Daboll said. "He's got quick feet. He can throw the ball wherever it needs to. He seems like he's really in control of the system."

"He's in a good groove," defensive coordinator Wink Martindale said. "He's playing with great rhythm and confidence. His arm angles are similar to Aaron's. You could see that he's watched Aaron play a lot and you know how much I believe in Aaron. I think he's just playing really well."

The Giants have faced several teams with a clearcut No. 1 receiver: Miami's Tyreek Hill, San Francisco's Deebo Samuel, and Dallas' CeeDee Lamb among them. Green Bay does not have a star on that level but challenges defenses with several productive players. The Packers are the only NFL team with three wide receivers with 5+ touchdown receptions this season: Romeo Daubs (7) and Christian Watson and rookie Jayden Reed (5 each). Watson will miss Monday's game with a hamstring injury suffered last week.

"I give credit to the receivers," cornerback Adoree' Jackson said. "They do a good job. Also, I give credit to (Matt) LaFleur (the head coach and offensive play-caller). He's a great offensive minded coach. I had him in Tennessee (in 2018) and knowing all the things that he's done utilizing his different receivers.

"They all jump out and make splash plays, so they all do something great. They run after the catch. I feel like they're hungry and that's what you need. (Doubs and Watson) are in their second year and everyone else are rookies. You get to see the hunger and the grit that they go out there and play with. It's not going to be perfect, but they go out there and get the job done and their quarterback trusts them and that's all you really need."

Defensively, the Packers have allowed 20.3 points-per-game, which places them ninth in the league, and they have not allowed more than 24 points in eight consecutive games.

"They play well in all three levels," Daboll said. "It's good team defense when you don't give up points like that."

Green Bay also benefits from a part of the game many teams seldom utilize. The Packers' 24 kickoff returns are second in the NFL to San Francisco's 28, and Keisean Nixon leads the league with a 27.0-yard average.

"He's a top returner in this league," Daboll said.

Another reason playing the Packers will be a challenge for the Giants.

View rare photos of the history between the New York Giants and Green Bay Packers.

*The Packers are 16-0 in December under LaFleur. The only team to win more consecutive December games was the San Diego Chargers with 18 straight from 2006-09, before their move to Los Angeles. Green Bay's last loss in the month was on Dec. 30, 2018, 31-0 to the Lions in Lambeau Field. Their December winning streak began with a 31-13 victory against the Giants in MetLife on Dec. 1, 2019.

*Running backs coach Jeff Nixon spoke publicly for the first time since it was reported he is the top candidate to become the offensive coordinator at Syracuse University. Nixon said "not right now" when asked if the deal is finalized.

"Just discussions," he said. "Really just focusing on what I'm doing here, and coach Daboll has been really supportive of everything with the situation. Right now, I know I'm gonna be here for the season and just really focusing on being where my feet are and trying to help us win some games here."

Nixon and new Syracuse coach Fran Brown worked together at Baylor in 2017-18.

"It's a great opportunity," Nixon said. "Syracuse is a great, great school. I grew up in this area, playing at West Virginia and Penn State. So, Syracuse was always around when I was in college. One of the very first games I ever went to was West Virginia versus Syracuse. This would have been like 1992 or something like that. One of my mentors was the OC there for a long time, George DeLeone, who I worked with at Temple and Baylor and someone who I was very fond of. I actually coached with (former Syracuse head coach Paul) Pasqualoni last year in Carolina and then coached Donovan McNabb when I was in Philly for the four years. So, a lot of history there.

"It's a great place but we'll see what happens. Right now, I'm really just kind of focused on what we're doing here. Coach Daboll and the organization have been really supportive of me and like I said, we'll see what happens."

*The Giants listed five players as questionable for their game Monday night vs. the Packers: defensive linemen Dexter Lawrence (hamstring) and A'Shawn Robinson (hamstring), linebacker Isaiah Simmons (ankle), wide receiver Parris Campbell (knee), and tight end Daniel Bellinger (illness). Bellinger today missed his second day of practice and Campbell his first.

Tackle Evan Neal will miss his fourth consecutive game with an ankle injury.

View photos of the Giants on the practice field ahead of the Week 14 matchup against the Green Bay Packers.

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