PFW executive editor and resident Packers expert Dan Arkush identifies three players or position groups on the rise as well as three players or position groups going in the opposite direction.
LOLB Clay Matthews: Against the Giants, Matthews was a giant pain in the neck, making his presence felt from beginning to end while operating at 100 mph and then some. Matthews' biggest contribution in Week 13 was a 38-yard interception return for a TD that gave Green Bay a 14-10 lead in the second quarter — a play which he read perfectly. He also had a sack, two QB hits and a forced fumble and performed every bit like the player who earned PFW Defensive MVP honors last season.
WR Jordy Nelson: With every passing week, Nelson becomes more worthy of serious Pro Bowl consideration. He caught each of the four passes thrown to him in the Giants game, and three of the passes — each for more than 20 yards — helped set up 17 points (a pair of TDs plus the game-winning field goal). Nelson's catches are getting increasingly fun to watch, as he continues to display extraordinary body control, which was the case on his acrobatic 21-yard down the left sideline that preceded the Pack's final TD of the game to Donald Driver. How Nelson was able to keep both his feet just barely inbounds on that play is impossible to explain.
RB Brandon Saine: Getting more playing time on Sunday after James Starks was injured, the undrafted rookie displayed intriguing flashes similar to those of Starks down the stretch last season. On his 10 touches, Saine gained 45 yards and showed a determined, uphill running style and sure hands out of the backfield.
OLT Marshall Newhouse: Paging Chad Clifton! The Giants mostly had their way penetrating the left side Sunday, as Newhouse, who played pretty well in his previous game against Detroit's highly regarded D-line, looked consistently overmatched.
Pass defense: Eli Manning wasted no time working over the Packers' vulnerable secondary, setting the tone for a back-and-forth shootout with a 67-yard TD pass to Travis Beckum on the third play of the game. Manning matched Packers QB Aaron Rodgers bullet for bullet, throwing three TDs and connecting with four different receivers for at least 47 yards. Green Bay's run defense wasn't great, either, but Manning's consistent connections with his talented cast of pass catchers were the biggest reason why the Giants came so close to ending the Packers' perfect run.
TE Andrew Quarless: While the injuries to Starks and CB Charles Woodson (concussion) generated more of a buzz, what might have been the most costly injury Sunday was the badly sprained knee suffered by Quarless, who had emerged as a solid blocking force in two-TE formations and was just starting to spread his wings as a receiver.