Every week during the season, we’ll scout out the Giants' next opponent. This week, that opponent is the Green Bay Packers.
The Giants have caught the Packers at all different times in the last couple of seasons.
They caught them for the first time when the Packers were undefeated last season and rolling through the NFL like a knife through hot butter. The Giants pushed them to the limit, but ultimately lost 38-35 in a game that fell in the middle of four losses in five games.
When the teams met again, it was January in Green Bay and the Giants routed a heavily favored Packers team to continue their march to the Super Bowl. It seemed like the perfect example of a team peaking at the right time facing one that had peaked a little bit too soon.
It's time for round three this Sunday night at the Meadowlands and it is hard to predict what role momentum will play in this latest battle. The Giants are sending off rested-and-ready vibes after their bye week, but they looked dreadful in their last two games.
The Packers, on the other hand, have won five straight games and look like they've found their groove after losing three of their first five games. With the Bears stumbling thanks to Jay Cutler's injury, they're in position to grab the lead in the NFC North and continue on the road to playoff redemption.
Getting through the Giants would be a big step in that direction. It would allow the Packers to show that they've shored up the pass-blocking and pass-defending weaknesses that signaled their doom in January while also striking a blow that would stir up even more trouble for another NFC contender.
Ultimately, though, the question of who's hotter now doesn't much matter. It's about who's the hottest when the year comes to an end and both of these teams still need to cement their spot in the postseason.
Here's a few of the things to know about the Packers as the Giants try to stop them from doing that.
Second Verse, (Almost) Same as the First: There's no MVP buzz around Aaron Rodgers this season, but that's a reflection on not being undefeated more than it is a reflection on Rodgers' play. Rodgers has been almost as good as he was last year and he's certainly been just as valuable to the Packers thanks to that high level of performance.
New Face in the Crowd: Casey Hayward wasn't the most highly touted player coming out of college, but the second-round pick has upped his stock considerably through 10 games. He's given the Packers a deeper, more talented secondary (even with Charles Woodson out) and Eli Manning won't find it quite as easy to pick them apart as it was last year.
Injuries Again: When the Packers won the Super Bowl two years ago, they did it despite a slew of injured regulars. Things aren't quite that bad this year, but their chances of winning will take a hit if linebacker Clay Matthews and wide receiver Greg Jennings remain out of the lineup thanks to injuries.
Targets, Targets Everywhere: If Jennings is out, the Packers will be just fine with Jordy Nelson, James Jones, Randall Cobb, Jermichael Finley and Donald Driver. There are deep threats and reliable receivers and everything in between on that list, something that will test a shaky Giants secondary if the front four can't get the pass rush fired up.