Beware the Humbled GiantsPosted:Oct 6th, 2016 3:02 pm
We all saw the Giants' miserable excuse for a performance at US Bank Stadium on Monday night. You can credit the Vikings for some of that, but much of their problems were of their own making.
Their passing attack consisted of dinking, dunking and throwing the ball into the ground at the slightest hint of a pass rush. And their defense couldn't get off the field on third down, even against the Vikes' pedestrian offense.
So they come to Lambeau with everything going against them: they're on a short week following a Monday night road game, while the Pack is coming off a bye and was at home the previous week. Their secondary is a MASH unit, and they're deep into their depth chart at running back.
And then there's OBJ. The mercurial wide receiver's on field antics has been the story that's dominated the league this week. He's had more temper tantrums than touchdowns (he hasn't scored all season, after dazzling the league with 25 in his first 27 career games). Head coach Ben McAdoo blames himself for not targeting him more against the Vikes. You can bet he loves this matchup, after seeing what Stefon Diggs and Marvin Jones have done to this defense without Sam Shields on the field.
You never like to face a desperate team and that's what the Giants are right now, losers of two straight and coming off an embarrassing prime time show. Toss in that their head coach spent eight years in the Packers' offensive meeting rooms, the last two as Aaron Rodgers' coach, and you know they won't be surprised by much of what they see on Sunday night.
Then there's the Eli factor. As miserable as he has been against the Vikings in his career, he's been that good against the Pack. His Lambeau playoff win in Brett Favre's final game as a Packer remains a personal highlight, ranking right behind his two Super Bowl wins.
While the matchup favors the Packers on many levels, this one may not be as easy as it appears on paper. And it does seem to favor the Pack on paper. Let's start when Aaron Rodgers is on the field. He'll be without tight end Jared Cook, who's still in a walking boot and looks like he'll be out for a while. Look for McCarthy to show four receiver looks throughout the game, with Janis and Montgomery getting snaps. The Giants are decimated by injury to their secondary and Rodgers should find favorable matchups all over the field. They saw how the Vikes picked on backup corner Tevin Wade--expect more of the same on Sunday night.
The Packers will continue to feed Eddie Lacy, of course, but the Giants are decent against the run, so look for the team to come out throwing and then mixing in the run to keep them off balance. Expect a lot of up tempo, no huddle stuff, and some plays we haven't seen yet--the bye week gives you a chance to install some funky stuff.
On defense, the Pack should have four of the five injured guys back who missed the Lions game. Only Shields will miss this one. That means the pass rush will be back at full force, with Clay Matthews and Datone Jones returning to help out the emerging Nick Perry. The team's top ranked run defense shouldn't be challenged much by free agent Orleans Darkwa, but they'll have to account for their pass catching backs, Bobby Rainey and rookie Paul Perkins.
The binoculars will be on the secondary, who will be tested by a strong corps of receivers led by OBJ, who will likely get double digit targets. Will Damarius Randall try to get under his skin to draw a flag or two? We'll have to see...I hope he plays him straight up and plays more like the guy we saw week one, as opposed to the guy we saw the last two games. Quentin Rollins and LaDarius Gunter will have to keep an eye on rookie Sterling Shepard and Victor Cruz. When Eli has time, he'll be able to take some shots. If the pass rush is doing its job we'll see more throws hitting his linemen's ankles, like we saw on Monday night.
This is the first of three home games over a 12 day span, all nationally televised: two in prime time and one at 3:25. The Packers will likely be favored by at least a touchdown in all three games. None of the three opponents feature a top ranked defense, so it's a great opportunity for the Packers offense to build on what it started against the Lions.
Both the Packers and Giants have been great October teams in recent years, winning three quarter of their games, to rank behind only the Patriots. And the Pack has been great coming off the bye week under McCarthy, 3-0 in home games. They're 7-1 in their last eight Sunday night home games. After watching the Giants the last two weeks and knowing the Packers come in more rested and healthier, the home team holds serve--though the Giants will likely hit the end zone once or twice with OBJ.
Packers 31 Giants 24