Giants-Packers: Talk is cheap

January, 12, 2012
1/12/12
4:00
PM ET
From the sounds of it, many of you are falling for it. You're letting yourself fall victim to a perception that a dominant national storyline suggests the New York Giants will upset the Green Bay Packers on Sunday in the NFL's divisional playoff round.

Via Twitter, @unwantedopinion wrote: Have you ever seen a 15-1 OR a defending Super Bowl champ this disrespected in the media before a game?

I'm not totally sure if it's as widespread as some of you think, or if it really matters. We've no doubt heard opinions like that of ESPN's Herm Edwards, who said this week that the Giants are the "hot team coming into the playoffs," as the Packers were last season. Edwards added: "You look at the teams who are hot in the NFC. Who do you see? Saints. Giants."

But I feel like most fact-based assessments suggest the Packers should at least be the favorite to win this game. They're giving nine points in Las Vegas, where the operators aren't usually looking to lose money, and I've been forwarded two computer simulations of the game -- one from AccuScore and one from EA Sports -- that project a double-digit Packers victory.

The Giants are indeed on a hot streak, having won four of their past five games to advance to this game. But shouldn't any discussion about recent success note that the Packers have won 21 of their past 22 games, including two victories over the Giants in which they scored 83 points?

And yes, it's true. Giants quarterback Eli Manning had a career season and the Packers have given up more passing yards than any team in NFL history. Plus, Manning has only thrown one interception in his past three games. But in the same breath, shouldn't it also be noted that Manning has thrown more interceptions (129) than any NFL quarterback since he entered the league in 2004?

(Oh, by the way, the Packers led the NFL in interceptions this season with 31.)

I can't argue that the Giants have one of the league's best defensive fronts, one that gives them the luxury to rush four and keep seven players in coverage against the Packers' receivers and tight ends. But it might be worth considering that Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers had the NFL's best passer rating against four-man pass rushes this season (118.3), completing 69.3 of his passes in those situations for 29 touchdowns and four interceptions.

The Giants are a confident bunch, as one would expect of a team that has made it to the divisional round of the playoffs. Defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul has predicted a victory, and as Tom Canavan of the Associated Press points out, their defense appears convinced it can stop Rodgers.

"I don't put any opponent on a pedestal," safety Antrel Rolle said. "I understand they have a lot of weapons on this team and they are an awesome opponent, and so are we."

I'm sure Antrel has done his research. No one needs to show him the chart accompanying this post, the one that documents Rodgers' performance in five career playoff games. His 112.6 rating over that span is an NFL record.

Look, I'm not trying to sound snarky, nor do I want to ridicule the Giants' chances of winning. I know there are smart people who think the Packers will lose Sunday. And perhaps they will. But that idea has just gotten too trendy for me. The reality is it would be a significant upset based on a substantial reversal of trends the Packers have spent most of the past 13 months developing. Moving on ...

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