The final game of Divisional Playoff Weekend comes late Sunday afternoon (4:30 pm ET) in Lambeau Field as the surprising New York Giants take on arguably the best team in the NFL in 20111, the 15-1 Green Bay Packers.
The Giants qualified for the playoffs on the season’s final day as they beat the Dallas Cowboys for the NFC East title. Then New York pitched a defensive shutout of a potent Atlanta Falcons offense 24-2 in the NFC Wild Card Game last Sunday. Quarterback Eli Manning threw for three touchdowns in the victory.
The Packers rolled through the regular season, with the only blemish a road loss at Kansas City. Quarterback Aaron Rodgers had an MVP-caliber season. He set an NFL single-season record with a 122.5 passer rating and threw for a franchise-record 4,643 yards and 45 TDs.
This will be the seventh postseason meeting between the Giants and the Packers, and the first since the 2007 NFC Championship Game, which the Giants won on the way to their Super Bowl XLII title victory over New England.
The Packers were one of three teams to go a perfect 8-0 at home, and they will begin their attempt to become the ninth defending Super Bowl champion to repeat starting today in a matchup of former Super Bowl MVPs (Manning and Rodgers) and a rematch of a 38-35 Packers victory in New York on December 4.
We take our final look inside the team-provided game notes for Divisional Playoff Weekend, thanks to each team’s PR department and the NFL Communications office (via Elias Sports Bureau).
New York (9-7; NFC East champion) beat Atlanta in the NFC Wild Card Game last Sunday:
ELI IS CONSISTENT: Eli Manning threw for a franchise-record 4,933 yards and 29 touchdown passes in the regular season and has passed for at least 3,000 yards and 20 touchdowns in seven consecutive seasons. He is the fifth quarterback in NFL history to do so. The other four quarterbacks to accomplish the feat are Peyton Manning, Brett Favre, Dan Marino and Drew Brees.
JASON PIERRE-PAUL GETS THE JOB DONE: Jason Pierre-Paul had 16.5 sacks (fourth-best in NFL) and 86 tackles in the regular season. Pierre-Paul recorded at least 0.5 sacks in 12 of the 16 games this season. He recorded a career-high 16 tackles against the Washington Redskins (Dec. 18) and a total of 26 tackles and four sacks in the last three games of the regular season.
CRUZ CONTROL: Victor Cruz had a Giants record 1,536 receiving yards this season (third in the NFL). Cruz’s 82 catches tied for the second-highest total in team history. He also had a franchise-record seven 100-yard receiving games this season.
GIANTS VS. PACKERS: The Packers lead the overall series, 31-23-2. The two teams have played in the postseason six times and the Packers lead the series, 4-2. Head Coach Tom Coughlin is 2-5 overall against the Packers in his career (2-3 with the Giants, including the 2007 NFC Championship game). The Giants lost to the Packers, 38-35, in Week 13 this season (Dec. 4).
Green Bay (15-1; NFC North champions) will open its’ postseason Sunday as the NFC’s No. 1 seed:
- Rodgers capped off the 2010 postseason with a 304-yard, three-TD effort vs. Pittsburgh that earned him Super Bowl XLV honors. He became just the fourth quarterback in NFL history to throw for 300 yards and three TDs in a Super Bowl, joining Joe Montana, Steve Young and Jake Delhomme.
- His passer rating of 111.5 in Super Bowl XLV was his fourth game with a 110-plus rating in five postseason starts. That already ties him for third in league history behind only Montana (six in 23 starts) and Brett Favre (five in 24 starts).
- Rodgers threw for 1,094 yards in the 2010 postseason, good for No. 2 in NFL history behind only Kurt Warner’s 1,147 yards with Arizona in 2008. His nine TDs in last year’s playoffs tied him for No. 3 in NFL postseason history behind only Montana (1989) and Warner (2008), who threw for 11 TDs each.
- With his three-TD passing performance at Atlanta in the NFC Divisional Playoff, Rodgers brought his TD total in his first three playoff games to 10, the most in NFL history. That topped the mark of nine held by Jeff George, Daryle Lamonica and Dan Marino in their first three playoff starts.
- Rodgers posted a 136.8 rating in the game against the Falcons, the third time he registered a 120-plus rating in three playoff starts. Rodgers became the first quarterback in NFL history to post a 120-plus rating in each of his first three playoff starts. No other QB in league history had posted a 120-plus rating in their first two postseason starts.
- Rodgers holds both of the top single-game passing yardage marks in postseason history with a 423-yard outing at Arizona in the 2009 postseason and a 366-yard effort last season at Atlanta.
- This will be the first time Rodgers has faced the Giants in the postseason. In two regular-season meetings, he posted a combined 121.2 passer rating (53-83, 773 yards, eight TDs, one INT).
ON ALL CYLINDERS: For the sixth consecutive season, Green Bay was one of the most productive offenses in the league.
- The Packers ranked No. 3 in the NFL in total offense, their highest finish since a No. 2 ranking in 2007.
- Green Bay has finished in the top 10 in total offense in every season under Head Coach Mike McCarthy. The only other team in the league to accomplish that feat over the past six seasons is New Orleans.
- The Packers registered at least 390 yards of total offense in the first seven games this season, the first time in franchise history they accomplished that feat in seven straight games at any point in a season.
- Green Bay was the only team in the league to post at least 315 yards of offense in every game this season. Dating back to last season, the Packers have registered 315-plus yards of offense in 22 of their last 24 regular-season games.
- The Packers set a franchise record with 6,482 yards on the season. Three of the top five totals in team history have come under McCarthy’s direction.
- The Packers ranked No. 3 in the NFL this season with an average of 307.8 passing yards per game.
HOME SWEET HOME: When the Packers take the field Sunday, it will mark their first playoff contest in front of the home crowd at Lambeau Field since the 2007 postseason when they hosted the Seahawks and Giants in Green Bay.
- Green Bay has won 13 straight regular-season contests at Lambeau Field and 19 of its last 20 at home. It is tied for the fourth-longest home winning streak in franchise history and is the longest current home winning streak in the NFL. The Packers’ lone defeat over that span came vs. Miami last season in Week 6.
- The Packers’ 19-1 mark (.950) over their past 20 regular-season games at home is tied with New England (19-1) for the best home record in the league over that span.
- Green Bay recorded a perfect 8-0 mark at home for the first time since 2002. Since the NFL went to a 16-game schedule in 1978, the Packers have posted undefeated home records four times (1996, 1997, 2002, 2011).
- The Packers joined Baltimore and New Orleans as the only teams in the NFL to register undefeated home records this season.
- Green Bay averaged a franchise-record 40.1 points per game at home this season, eclipsing the previous mark of 38.0 in 1942.
- The Packers have a 15-3 all-time record (.833) in home playoff games (13-3 in Green Bay, 2-0 in Milwaukee).
Finally, a look at the Giants-Packers matchup from NFL Communications:
TEAMS MEET for 7th time in postseason. 1st 5 meetings were NFL Champ. Last playoff meeting was 2007 NFC Champ. GB has won 4 of previous 6 postseason meetings. NYG won last playoff meeting (2007 NFC Champ, 23-20 in OT) during team’s SB XLII championship season. Packers won Week 13 meeting (38-35).
GIANTS: Playing in 31st postseason, most in NFL history. Head coach Tom Couglin has led NYG to 5 postseason appearances, tied with Bill Parcells for most in team history. Giants had 2 players selected to Pro Bowl: QB Eli Manning (2nd) & DE Jason Pierre-Paul (1st) … QB Manning passed for 277 yards, 3 TDs & 129.3 rating in WC last week. Has 11 postseason TD passes, most in team history. Ranks 2nd in club playoff history with 1,574 pass yards, 136 comp. & 225 att. Had franchise-record 4,933 pass yards & 8 300-yard games in reg. season. Has 22 career 300-yard games & passed Phil Simms (21) for most in team history. Recorded 7th consecutive season with 3,000+ pass yards & 20+ pass TDs, most in team history. Had 15 4th quarter TD passes in reg. season, most ever in season, topping HOFer Johnny Unitas & Peyton Manning … RB Brandon Jacobs ties for 2nd in club postseason history with 3 rush TDs & needs 1 to tie Joe Morris (4) for most. Since start of 2005 (incl. playoffs), has 59 rush TDs, tied for 4th most in NFL. RB Ahmad Bradshaw is 1 of 7 players in NFL with 1,800+ rush yards (1,894) & 80+ receptions (81) since start of 2010 season … WR Hakeem Nicks had 6 catches for 115 yards & 2 TDs in WC last week, his 1st career playoff game. Ranked 2nd on team in reg. season with 76 catches, 1,192 yards & 7 TDs. Only player in team history with 75+ catches, 1,000+ yards & 7+ TDs in consecutive seasons. WR Victor Cruz had team-record 1,536 rec. yards in reg. season, 193 more than previous mark (1,343, Amani Toomer). Had team-high 9 rec. TDs in reg. season, incl. 99-yard TD in Week 16, tied for longest in NFL history. Had 5 rec. TDs of 65+ yards in reg. season, 2nd most in season in NFL history (6, HOFer Elroy “Crazy Legs” Hirsch, 1951). Had 7 100-yard games in reg. season, most by Giant in season. Cruz (1,536) & Nicks (1,192) are 1st set of Giants to each record 1,000+ rec. yards in same season. WR Mario Manningham has 19 career rec. TDs & 13 have been 20+ yards, incl. 27-yard TD in last week’s WC … DE Pierre-Paul ranked 4th in NFL during reg. season with 16.5 sacks. Joined HOFer Lawrence Taylor & Michael Strahan as only Giants with 16+ sacks in season. DE Justin Tuck had 2 sacks in SB XLII, tied for most in postseason game by Giant. In past 23 games (incl. playoffs), DE Osi Umenyiora has 20.5 sacks & 11 FFs. Has 3 career postseason sacks. Team had 20 reg.-season INTs, most by NYG since 2000 when club advanced to SB XXXV. CB Corey Webster led team with career-high 6 INTs in reg. season. Had INT in 2007 NFC Champ. vs. GB. Has 2 career postseason INTs.
PACKERS: Have won 13 NFL championships, most all-time. Team’s .644 postseason winning pct. (29-16) is best in NFL history. Club has 29 playoff wins, 3rd most in NFL annals. Head coach Mike McCarthy is 5-2 (.714) in postseason, 2nd best mark in franchise history (HOFer Vince Lombardi, 9-1, .900). Won franchise-record 15 games, 6th team in NFL history with 15 wins. Packers were 6-0 vs. 2011 playoff teams. Team scored 560 points, most in franchise history & 2nd most all-time. Packers had 7 players selected to Pro Bowl: WR Greg Jennings (2nd), FB John Kuhn (1st), LB Clay Matthews (3rd), DT B.J. Raji (1st), QB Aaron Rodgers (2nd), C Scott Wells (1st) & CB Charles Woodson (8th) … QB Rodgers had 122.5 rating, best single-season mark in NFL history. Set NFL season record with 13 games with 100+ rating & 12 games with 110+ rating. Had franchise record 4,643 pass yards & 45 TDs. Is only QB in NFL history to pass for 4,000+ yards & have 6 or fewer INTs. In postseason, Rodgers has completed 118 of 174 (67.8 pct.) for 1,517 yards with 13 TDs vs. 3 INTs for 112.6 rating, highest in NFL history. Also ranks 1st in NFL playoff history with 67.8 comp. pct. & 8.72 avg. gain. Is 2-0 in career vs. NYG with 773 yards, 8 TDs, 1 INT & 121.2 rating … RB Ryan Grant rushed for franchise playoff record 201 yards in 2007 Div. (1/12/08), 1 of 7 200-yard rush games in NFL postseason history. RB James Starks led NFL with 315 postseason rush yards last year … Packers had 5 WRs with 25+ catches each for 1st time in team history: Jordy Nelson (68), Jennings (67), James Jones (38), Donald Driver (37) & rookie Randall Cobb (25). Nelson had career-highs in catches (68), yards (1,263) & TDs (15). His 15 rec. TDs were 3rd most by Packer in season. In 7 career playoff games, Jennings has 5 TDs & 3 100-yard games. Driver has 46 postseason catches & needs 2 to pass Antonio Freeman (47) for most in team history. Cobb led NFC & was 2nd in NFL with 27.7 KR avg. TE Jermichael Finley had 55 catches for 767 yards & 8 TDs & is 1st GB TE with 2 seasons of 50+ catches, 600+ yards & 5+ TDs … Since joining GB in 2006, CB Woodson has 37 INTs (2nd in NFL) & 9 INT-TDs (1st in NFL). Has INT-TD in each of 6 years with GB & is only player in NFL history with INT-TD in 6 consecutive seasons. Since 2010 (incl. playoffs), CB Tramon Williams leads NFL with 13 INTs. Williams had 3 INTs in last year’s playoffs, incl. 70-yard INT-TD. LB Matthews had 6 sacks & 3 INTs (1 TD) in 2011 & is 1st player in team history with defensive TD in each of 1st 3 NFL seasons. Had INT-TD in last game vs. NYG. LB Desmond Bishop led team in tackles. S Charlie Peprah tied for 3rd among Safeties with career-high 5 INTs & had most INT return yards by S (147).