New York Giants (11-5; 9-6-1 ATS; 4-12 O/U) vs. Green Bay Packers (10-6; 9-6-1 ATS; 10-6 O/U)
NFL Wild Card Playoff: Sunday, January 8, 2017 at 4:40pm EST
Line: Green Bay -4.5
The NFC North Champion Green Bay Packers will host the New York Giants in the Wildcard game from the frozen tundra of Lambeau Field on Sunday afternoon. The Giants won three out of their last four games to finish with an 11-5 record in the NFC East, and the Packers won their final six games to win the NFC North with a 10-6 record. The Packers beat the Giants 23-16 at home in Week Five. Aaron Rodgers threw for 259 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions, and Eli Manning tallied 199 passing yards with one touchdown and no interceptions.
Strong Giants Defense Looks to Slow Down Rodgers
The New York Giants already clinched a playoff spot heading in their final game against the Washington Redskins but played spoiler in 19-10 win, eliminating the Redskins from playoff contention. Eli Manning threw for 180 yards with no touchdowns or interceptions in the win. Overall the veteran quarterback did not put up the stats he did last year, but he still had a solid season, accumulating 4027 passing yards with a 26:16 TD to INT ratio. Manning tossed six interceptions over his last five games which is a bit of a concern for the Giants. Odell Beckham Jr. made five catches for 44 yards in the win over the Redskins. Beckham had another great season, racking up 1367 receiving yards with ten touchdowns, averaging 13.5 yards per catch. The Giants high points of the season was a five-game winning streak starting in week six, and they also managed to defeat the Cowboys in both meetings this season. New York did not put up a lot of points, averaging 19.4 points per game, ranking them 26th in the NFL.
The Giants defense was outstanding in the win over the Redskins, holding Cousins to only one touchdown and made two interceptions, and they will face a huge test against the red-hot Aaron Rodgers. The biggest reason the Giants are back in the playoffs is the turnaround season seen from their defense. Last season, the Giants owned the 30th ranked defense, allowing an average of just under 28 points per game, however this season the Giants are only allowing an average of 17.8 points per game, which ranks them second in the NFL.
Rodgers on a Roll Heading into Playoffs
The Green Bay Packers are in the playoffs for the eighth consecutive season and pulling off six straight wins to win the NFC North over the Detroit Lions. Many had written the Packers off for the year after they were sitting at 4-6, but Aaron Rodgers found his groove and led his team back in the playoffs. Rodgers had a few off nights early in the season but really turned it on and finished the year throwing for 4428 yards with a dominant 40:7 TD to INT ratio, leads all QB’s in passing touchdowns. Rodgers has not thrown an interception since way back on November 20th. Jordy Nelson had an outstanding season and really came on the second half of the season, catching for over 100 yards in four out of his last eight games. The 31-year old receiver finished the season with a team-leading 1257 receiving yards. The Packers are filled with injuries at running back including James Starks who likely won’t play in this one. Ty Montgomery and fullback Aaron Ripkowski have been getting the carries. The Packers will definitely rely on their passing game in this one, and they finished the season averaging 27 points per game, good for fourth in the NFL.
The Packers defense was decimated with injuries especially in their secondary this season, and as a result finished with the 31st ranked pass defense. The Packers will give up points but their offense atones for their defense. Green Bay still has several playmakers on defense which includes Nick Perry (11 sacks), Julius Peppers (7.5 sack) and Clay Matthews. The Packers allowed an average of 24.2 points per game, ranking them 21st in the NFL.
The New York Giants are:
- 1-8-2 ATS in their last 11 road games against a team with a winning home record.
- 1-6 ATS in their last 7 games after allowing more than 90 rushing yards in their previous game.
The Green Bay Packers are:
- 5-1 ATS in their last 6 games overall.
- 4-0 ATS in their last 4 Wildcard playoff games.
- 4-1 ATS in their last 5 games against a team with a winning record.
- Home team is 4-1-1 ATS in the last six meetings between Green Bay and New York.
I am going with the Green Bay Packers with this reasonable spread. The Packers are the team nobody wants to face with Aaron Rodgers playing phenomenal football right now. Rodgers has thrown 18 touchdowns with zero interceptions over his last seven games and it doesn’t matter which defense he faces. The Giants have a solid defense however, they will give up yards in the air, allowing an average of 251 passing yards per game, ranking them 23rd in the NFL so I expect Rodgers to have another outstanding performance. The Packers offense is red hot, averaging 34 points per game over their last four games, plus they were able to beat the Giants earlier this season by a 23-16 score, and now they are playing their best football of the year so I am confident they take this one at home in convincing fashion.
Pick: Green Bay Packers -4.5
The Packers offense is red hot right now, scoring 30 or more points in four straight games and Rodgers is unstoppable right now and I expect that to continue, plus the over is 4-0 in the Packers last four games. The Packers will give up points on defense, as they own the 21st ranked defense and Eli Manning has playoff experience and he along with Beckham Jr should do some damage in this one. Expect the Packers to take this in a game with plenty of offense.