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NFC Wild Card: Giants at Packers O/U, ML and 1st Half Picks

New York Giants(11-5-0) @ Green Bay Packers(10-6-0)

  • Where: Lambeau Field. Green Bay, Wisconsin
  • When: January 8, 2017 4:40 pm EST
  • Spread: Giants +4.5 (-110) vs. Packers -4.5 (-110)
  • Moneyline: Giants (+175) vs. Packers (-210)
  • Over / Under: Over 44.5 (-115) vs. Under 44.5 (-105)

Perhaps the third time is the charm for the Green Bay Packers, as Aaron Rodgers leads the white-hot NFC North champions into their wild-card round game against the New York Giants at Lambeau Field.

The road to the Giants’ last two Super Bowl titles has made a stop in Wisconsin’s winter wonderland, first in the 2007 postseason when New York edged Green Bay 23-20 in overtime, and again in 2011 as Eli Manning bested Rodgers in a 37-20 victory.

This time around, it is Rodgers and the Packers (10-6) who enter this game with all the momentum, having closed the regular season on a six-game winning streak to back Rodgers’ claim Green Bay could run the table after a 42-24 loss at Washington in Week 11 left them 4-6. The Packers wrapped up the division title with a 31-24 victory at Detroit on Sunday night as Rodgers threw for 300 yards and four touchdowns, continuing his torrid play that has made him a dark horse for NFL MVP honors, something you can wager on at +275 odds with the Bovada Sportsbook.

It’s the eighth straight year Green Bay has made the playoffs, tying New England for the longest active streak in the NFL and moving within one of matching Dallas (1975-83) and Indianapolis (2002-10) for the longest in league history.

Giants at Packers Wild Card PicksThe Giants (11-5) claimed the top wild card in the NFC as runners-up to the Dallas Cowboys in the NFC East but swept the season series from the No. 1 seed. New York is in the postseason for the first time since winning Super Bowl XLI over New England as first-year coach Ben McAdoo guided the team to its best finish since going 12-4 in 2008.

However, there are concerns for New York, mainly on offense. The Giants failed to reach 20 points in any of their last five games, but were able to win three of them on the strength of a defense that yielded 71 points in those contests. That ‘D’ also forced 22 turnovers in the final 10 games after generating just three in the first six.

X-Factor 1: Giants RB Paul Perkins vs. Packers RB Ty Montgomery

Both backs have come on late in the season to take on pivotal roles for their respective offenses. In the case of Perkins, a fifth-round rookie from UCLA, he has been New York’s feature back the last four games and responded with 271 yards while averaging 4.4 per carry. While that average appears pedestrian, it is almost a full yard more than what the Giants averaged on the season (3.55) while ranking 29th in the league at 88.3 yards per game. While he will split time with Rashad Jennings in the backfield, his change of pace could help Manning’s play-action game.

Montgomery also became a starter late in the season as he finally filled the void left by Eddie Lacy’s season-ending ankle injury back in October. He rushed for a career-high 162 yards in a Week 16 win at Chicago and finished with 270 yards with a robust 6.4 per tote. The second-year back from Stanford is more of a bruiser than Perkins, but Montgomery has shown the ability to get to the edge and has deceptive speed with six runs of 10 or more yards in the last four games.

X-Factor 2: Can Davante Adams again be a difference-maker for the Packers?

In Green Bay’s 23-16 victory in Week 5, what was apparent was that both teams created defensive plans to neutralize the other’s top playmaker — Odell Beckham Jr. for the Giants and Jordy Nelson for the Packers. In the case of Beckham, he finished with five receptions for 56 yards and a touchdown, but Manning also targeted him 12 times. That number is more noteworthy when you consider the Giants ran only 54 plays compared to 77 for the Packers, and means Manning is likely to call a play for Beckham at least once a series.

On the other side, Nelson was largely kept in check by the Giants pass defense, which limited him to four catches for 38 yards and a TD while Rodgers went his way 13 times. That left Adams facing single coverage more often, and he responded with five catches for 85 yards and a touchdown. Three of those five receptions went for at least 20 yards, and Adams’ receptions were on deeper routes than Nelson’s, averaging 10.8 yards at the point of the catch compared to 8.0 for Nelson.

Adams has been a solid running mate to Nelson during this six-game winning streak with 22 catches for 334 yards and six TDs, though he still has trouble hanging onto the ball at times. If the Packers are going to record another win, Adams will have to produce better numbers than the Giants No. 2 wideout Sterling Shepard.

X-Factor 3: Can the Giants stop the Packers on third down?

Right now, Rodgers is operating at peak efficiency. He has completed 71 percent of his passes for 1,667 yards and 15 TDs without an interception in his last six games and is a key reason the Packers finished second in the NFL in third-down conversions at 46.7 percent. The Giants are third in the league defensively, allowing opponents to make good on 35.3 percent of their third-down plays. In the Week 5 loss at Lambeau Field, they allowed Green Bay to go 9 for 19, and Rodgers set the tone of the game by converting 4 of 4 such plays on his opening drive. If that happens again, New York may be hard-pressed to win given its recent offensive struggles and can’t afford to play a track-meet style game.

Yet Manning, for all his detractors in a “mediocre” season in which he topped 4,000 yards and threw 26 TD passes, is still a big-time playoff quarterback with two Super Bowl titles. And in the 2011 win at Lambeau, he had postseason career highs of 330 yards and three TD passes. Additionally, Manning is 5-1 on the road in the playoffs and has won eight of his last nine postseason games overall. The weather will not faze him, it’s whether Don Capers can effectively disguise his blitzes again after the Packers recorded four sacks — three of Manning — Green Bay’s Week 5 win.

NYG vs GB money line and over/under predictions

Given the contrasting form of both teams on offense, and especially with how Rodgers and the Packers are operating heading into this game, I recommend picking the Packers at -210 on the Bovada Sportsbook money line, the OVER of 44.5 points since it has come down from an open of 47 and also to lay the 3 points on the Packers at -120 in the first half. In the last four games between the teams, including the playoffs, the team which has scored the first touchdown has gone onto win the game, and I expect Rodgers and Green Bay to make that five straight.

Chris AltrudaThis article was written by Chris Altruda

Chris Altruda has spent more than two decades as a sportswriter, first for ESPN SportsTicker in Jersey City, New Jersey, where he rose to the level of college sports coordinator and was NCAA Men's Basketball Columnist. From there, he moved onto The Associated Press, where Chris started as an editorial assistant in their MegaSports division in the AP's headquarters in New York City before taking on the role of Scores Manager. He most recently served as an editor for nearly 11 years for STATS' editorial department based in Northbrook, Illinois, writing game previews for all US professional and major college sports as well as the English Premier League and international soccer. Currently a freelancer, Chris is still working the international soccer beat and other assorted projects. A native New Yorker and graduate of Marquette University who still refers to them as the Warriors, Chris is now holding out hope the Jets will reach a Super Bowl in his lifetime since the Cubs proved miracles are possible by winning the 2016 World Series. Chris can be found on Twitter at @AlTruda73

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