Packers vs. Giants: 3 storylines to watch
Here’s a preview of what to watch for when the Green Bay Packers host the New York Giants in the NFC playoffs at 3:40 p.m. Sunday.
1. The Packers need to leave the past in the past.
You know the comparisons are coming. The talk all week will be about the last two times the New York Football Giants came into Lambeau Field and ended the Packers' seasons in the playoffs.
Mike McCarthy wouldn’t take the bait Monday when asked about it, and you can bet he’ll continue to keep his focus forward when he’s inevitably asked about it again later in the week.
There’s no doubt that what happened in those games has nothing to do with whatever is going to happen Sunday. But there’s also little doubt that the Giants will be coming into Lambeau a confident bunch.
McCarthy and company will keep their focus forward, as they should. The Giants undoubtedly will draw on the past to reinforce their confidence in their ability to come out of Lambeau with a victory.
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2. Can the Packers cobble together a secondary that can slow down Odell Beckham Jr. and company?
The Packers have been banged up at the cornerback position pretty much since Week 1, so heading into the playoffs with a MASH unit at the position really isn’t anything out of the ordinary for Dom Capers and his fellow defensive coaches.
With that said, the Packers are facing an extremely talented group of pass catchers and a quarterback who historically has come alive in the postseason. All eyes will be on superstar Odell Beckham Jr., but the Giants also feature explosive rookie Sterling Shepard and veteran Victor Cruz.
While LaDarius Gunter has become the mainstay, it will be interesting to see how Capers pieces together the rest of his unit and how he’ll go about trying to cover Beckham Jr.
Green Bay actually did a fairly decent job limiting any explosive plays for Beckham Jr. last time around. It will be up to Capers to find another successful formula with an extremely makeshift group at his disposal.
3. Look for McCarthy and Ben McAdoo to add a few new wrinkles
It’s no secret that Giants coach McAdoo runs virtually the same offense McCarthy runs in Green Bay. Both teams' defensive coordinators undoubtedly will be drawing on as much as they can from their head coaches this week to try and expose every tendency, every design flaw they can possibly find.
To combat this, you can expect both McCarthy and McAdoo to throw in a few unscouted looks they have not shown the entire year. Whether it’s a certain type of running play, a formation they haven’t shown or simply a change up in personnel, both play callers will need to throw something at the defenses that they haven’t been able to prepare for.
That’s not to say either coach is going to go all-out and change the nature of their offenses. At the end of the day, they’ll run their stuff and make the other team try to stop it. But you can bet there will be more than a handful of plays that leaves the opposing defense scrambling to adjust on the fly.