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Wild Card Playoffs Storylines: What to watch for


Here are the storylines to follow as the Giants prepare for the Packers on Sunday:


>DRC wins Defensive award
>Eli not taking playoffs for granted
>Impact under-the-radar players
>Know Your Opponent: GB playmakers
>Giants Life: Apple and Shepard

The most incredible stat you will hear all week is that Eli Manning and Aaron Rodgers have the same number of postseason victories at Lambeau Field: two. Manning is 2-0 there with the Giants, winning in 2007 and 2011 en route to Super Bowls XLII and XLVI. Rodgers, on the other hand, is 2-2 as Green Bay's starter. But history doesn't mean much as the fifth-seeded Giants (11-5) prepare for the fourth-seeded Packers (10-6) in an NFC Wild Card Game on Sunday at 4:40 p.m. ET.

"You know how these last couple years have been a great reminder of how difficult it is to make the playoffs," Manning said of the Giants' first postseason appearance since 2011. "And you want to take advantage of every opportunity that you get to make them because you don't know if, when you get another chance."


While the Giants won nine of their final 11 games – including a 19-10 victory over a desperate Washington team in the regular season finale – the Packers ran the table since ending a four-game skid in Week 12. Over the six-game winning streak, Green Bay defeated its opponents by an average score of 31-19 while claiming the NFC North title.

"They are a good team and they are playing good football," Manning said. "Defensively, they are getting a lot of turnovers. Offensively, they are scoring a lot of points, Aaron is playing great football, so they are coming in hot and we know that we have to play smart and find ways to win. We have to keep it close and make some plays in the fourth quarter and win the football game kind of like the way we have been winning all year."


Pro Bowl cornerback Janoris Jenkins, who missed Week 16 with a back injury, returned to the field last week against the Redskins and played the first half. He was sore coming out of the game, according to coach Ben McAdoo, and will be limited to start the week.

Meanwhile, defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul missed the last four games with a core muscle injury. "When he's ready, they'll let me know," McAdoo said. Safety Nat Berhe (concussion), right tackle Bobby Hart (forearm) and rookie tight end Jerell Adams (shoulder) were also inactive for Week 17.


In their 23-16 road loss to Green Bay in Week 5, the Giants intercepted Rodgers twice and held him to a 51.1 completion percentage. Since then, the All-Pro quarterback has completed 68.6 percent of his passes with 31 touchdowns against only four interceptions. His 40 touchdowns for the season were the most in the NFL.

"Very unique. Inside the pocket he can shred you, he can make all the throws," linebacker and defensive captain Jonathan Casillas said. "To think that such a good passer, you would think they'd get him out of the pocket, damper him, or put some type of uneasiness about him, but no, he's very comfortable outside the pocket. The way the scheme is built, those receivers take off vertically towards the end zone and he becomes a lot more dangerous when he does that."


With nothing to gain or lose in the finale, McAdoo still played to win in the final game of the regular season. Perhaps the best thing to come away from doing so was seeing the production from the run game while playing on the road against a team fighting for its postseason life. The Giants still finished 29th rushing the ball in the NFL for the season, but they gained 161 yards on the ground against Washington, their highest total since the 2015 finale.

Rookie Paul Perkins, the Giants' fifth-round draft choice out of UCLA, made his first career start and recorded his first 100-yard game, while veteran Rashad Jennings added 52 yards and a touchdown. However, in their first game against the Packers in Week 5, the Giants were outgained 147-43 in rushing yards.

"We've grown, offensively," Jennings said. "We've been able to run the ball a little bit more, which is going to be huge, especially, especially, in this time of the year. Every team always says you've got to be able stop the run, you've got to be able to run the ball. That was two things we were able to do last week, and we've got to carry that over."

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