The New York Giants (6-4) face the Green Bay Packers (7-3) in a critical matchup Sunday at MetLife Stadium. The Giants have lost two straight and have the Dallas Cowboys and Washington Redskins breathing down their necks in the NFC East.
The Giants need a victory in the worst way, and to get one they have to play exceptionally well against a Green Bay team that has won five straight games. Here are three keys to Sunday's game:
The Giants vs. Randall Cobb
Cobb, a second-year player, is a dynamic weapon for the Packers who can hurt opposing teams in a variety of ways. This note explains just exactly how many:
Cobb is the only player in the NFL with more than 600 kickoff return yards (627), 200 punt return yards (211), 500 receiving yards (574), and 100 rushing yards (115). He leads the Packers in receiving yards, catches with 54 and receiving touchdowns with seven.
Defensively, the Giants have surrendered 47 plays of 20 yards or more, eight of those going for at least 40 yards. On special teams the Giants have given up several long returns in their past two games. Their run defense has also been spotty. So, containing Cobb will be a challenge.
"As far as I know, he’s not selling any programs coming in," Coughlin said of Cobb on Monday, "but he does it all now, and he’s done a good job with it."
Eli Manning vs. whatever has been bugging him
The Giants need the inaccurate passes and the poor decisions of the past few weeks to go away. They need the return of the good Eli and not a continuation of the bad Eli if they are going to survive a difficult final six weeks and overcome the challenge of the Washington Redskins and Dallas Cowboys in the NFC East.
Giants' secondary vs. Aaron Rodgers
The Giants have -- to put it simply -- not been good against the pass this season. They have surrendered those previously mentioned 47 plays of 20 yards or more, and are 25th in the league giving up 257.8 yards passing per game. Confusion leading to big plays, poor work at times from veteran Corey Webster and rookie slot corner Jayron Hosley, and difficulty covering tight ends with their linebackers, have all been issues.
If they can't cover adequately, and their vaunted defensive line continues to struggle in rushing the passer, that is a recipe for disaster.