How good is that New York Giants’ defense? The statistics are all over the map.
The Giants gave up only 17.8 points per game this season, second best in the league. This has been a sudden turnaround, as they were third worst, at 27.6 points, last year.
When you look at the yardage yielded, however, a different picture emerges. The Giants gave up 340 yards per game this season – decent, but only 10th best.
More intriguing, New York yielded 251.1 passing yards per game, ranking 23rd in the league. Since the Green Bay Packers depend so greatly on their passing attack, this suggests the Green and Gold will be able to move the ball well through the air on Sunday.
What the stats boil down to is that the Giants have a classic bend-but-don’t-break defense. The clincher is their league-leading red zone defense. Opponents score a touchdown only 39.5 percent of the time they get inside the Giants’ 20-yard line.
These teams are pretty evenly matched, so success or failure when Green Bay closes in on the Giants’ end zone will be critical to the game’s outcome. Field goals must be viewed as failures.
Packers’ Red Zone Prowess Is Growing
The Packers’ offense has done well this season when within the red zone. They have scored a touchdown 60.6 percent of the time, 10th best in the NFL.
In addition, the Pack has two of the five receivers who have most often been targeted in the red zone: Jordy Nelson (35 targets, first) and Davante Adams (25 targets, fifth). Between them, the duo has a remarkable 26 touchdown catches on the year. For team history buffs, I believe the next closest combo was Jordy Nelson (15) and Greg Jennings (9) in 2011. Behind them, in 1994, Robert Brooks had 18 TD catches, but no other teammate had more than four.
What is extra encouraging for Packers fans, the team’s red zone performance has really picked up during its six-game win streak. This was topped off on January 1, when Aaron Rodgers went four-for-four from the red zone: capped off with touchdown throws to Aaron Ripkowski, Adams, Geronimo Allison, and Adams again.
It will be strength pitted against strength on Sunday when Rodgers and his high-flying offense reach the red zone, and the Giants’ stout defense tries to protect its end zone. Football at its best!