By Sean Hartnett
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Aaron Rodgers and the red-hot Packers march into MetLife Stadium on Sunday night riding a five-game winning streak. Much of that is due to Rodgers’ favorite target — Randall Cobb.
If the Giants wish to settle their score with an outspoken Packers team that disrespected their NFC Divisional Game victory over the Pack on their path to winning Super Bowl XLVI, it all starts with shutting down the elusive Cobb.
Cobb received 44.4% of Rodgers’ passes in Week 11 against the Detroit Lions. The Packers’ playmaker has scored six receiving touchdowns in his past four games and is a multi-dimensional threat whom the Giants must keep a close eye on.
The Giants come off their bye week as the NFL’s 25th-worst passing defense and average 258 yards against through the air per game. When Rodgers turns to Cobb, he’s completed a remarkable 78.9 percent of his passes.
It’s not just the passing game where Cobb becomes dangerous to opposing defenses. He lines up in a number of roles in the Packers’ offense. Cobb can be used in the slot, out wide or in the backfield. Teammates including B.J. Raji have hailed Cobb as ‘The Packers’ version of Percy Harvin.’
He’s a do-everything player. You name it, Cobb does it. Cobb is the only player in the NFL to receive over 500 receiving yards, rush for over 100 yards, return 600 kickoff yards and record 200 punt return yards.
It’s in the return game where Cobb is at his most deadly. He averages 26.1 yards per kickoff return and 11.1 yards per punt return. Cobb is yet to score a touchdown on special teams, but scored a 108-yard kickoff return in his rookie debut 2011 game against the Saints.
The Giants can’t afford to give Rodgers and the Packers’ high-powered defense strong field position. If they do, they have little chance of matching the Pack in a shootout.
So far this season, the Giants have given up the second most kickoff return yards at 1,128 at an average of 24.5. Their punt return defense is the 5th-worst in the NFL at an average of 11.9 per return.
Tom Coughlin identified Cobb as an emerging star in his Tuesday interview with Mike Francesa.
“Offensively, Cobb has become the guy,” Coughlin said on Tuesday. “He has emerged and Rodgers, is Rodgers. His teammates have great confidence in him.”
If the Giants wish to silence their growing number of critics, they must first quiet Cobb — who has the ability to break big plays in a number of ways.
Is Cobb the biggest threat to the Giants on Sunday night? Sound off below and send your tweets to @HartnettWFAN.