Times are tough for the New York Giants. Following a game in which nothing went their way against the Minnesota Vikings, the 2-2 Giants will face another NFC North rival on the road in primetime this week in the Green Bay Packers (2-1). The Packers are coming off of their bye week.
The game can be seen on NBC Sunday Night Football, with kickoff likely around 8:30 pm.
New York Giants: Offense
Coming into the season, the thought was that the Giants’ vaunted trio of wideouts, made up of Odell Beckham Jr., Sterling Shepard, and Victor Cruz, was going to be unstoppable. Unfortunately, that plan has yet to come to fruition. The offense is stacked on paper, but injuries, the poor play of the offensive line, and Eli Manning’s negligence to give his receivers the ball early has stalled the offense.
Manning has had an up-and-down season. At times he looks as good as ever, but at other times he looks timid and indecisive. A more consistent performance out of his wideouts could help Manning get back on track.
The rushing attack has survived the loss of leading rusher Shane Vereen and the temporary absence of Rashad Jennings largely by committee. Orleans Darkwa has stood out, and Bobby Rainey and Paul Perkins are solid pass-catching options. The return of Jennings on Sunday can only help the G-Men.
Green Bay Packers: Offense
Prior to the bye week, the Packers for the most part hadn’t looked like themselves on offense. Aaron Rodgers had a rare clunker game in a Week 2 loss, Eddie Lacy has been good but has yet to score a touchdown, and the tight ends and depth receiving options have been nonexistent for Green Bay.
Still, the Packers are an extremely dangerous team. Rodgers is still my pick for the NFL’s top overall QB, Lacy has looked much improved over last year’s performance, and the duo of Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb is super-dangerous. The Giants will have to be careful and account for all of Green Bay’s weapons.
New York Giants: Defense
Defensively, the Giants have been solid this season. The pass rush only has 4.0 sacks to its credit, but has been applying pressure. The run defense, led by Damon Harrison and Jonathan Hankins, looks like the best group of run stuffers since the 2011 Championship team. But as usual, the Giants’ defense has been brought down by two crucial (and familiar) issues: poor linebacker play and a banged-up secondary.
Linebackers Jonathan Casillas, Kelvin Sheppard, and Keenan Robinson have had their share of missed tackles, and Devon Kennard hasn’t played enough. The secondary is finally getting healthy, but gimpy corners Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Eli Apple will face a tough task in the Packers’ attack. The team is also thin on safety depth.
Green Bay Packers: Defense
When was the last time that the Packers didn’t have a stout defense? It sure has been awhile. The focal point is and always will be the linebackers, led by veteran pass rushers Clay Matthews, Julius Peppers, and Nick Perry, as well as young run stuffers Jake Ryan and Blake Martinez. The D-Line is also solid, particularly defensive tackle Mike Daniels, who is a difference-maker.
The secondary for Green Bay will be missing its top cornerback, Sam Shields, due to a concussion, but still looks good. Damarious Randall, Micah Hyde, Ha-Ha Clinton-Dix, and Morgan Burnett can all shut down the opposition when its all going right. The Giants will have it tough against the Packers’ stingy defense.
New York Giants: Special Teams
The Giants’ special teams once again failed them last week. Specialists Josh Brown and Brad Wing did their thing, but this time it was return man Dwayne Harris who was the goat; he muffed a punt in the first quarter that put the Vikings ahead early.
The Giants need not ignore the importance of special teams, the often-crucial third facet of the game.
Green Bay Packers: Special Teams
The Packers always have good special teams. Longtime kicker Mason Crosby is always reliable, punter Jacob Schum has gotten the job done, and the Packers’ bevy of return men is something to watch out for; the shifty trio of Ty Montgomery, Micah Hyde, and Randall Cobb could all see the ball kicked their way on Sunday night.
The Packers have an edge over the Giants in every category and are well-rested and playing at home. Still, I think the Giants could give the Packers a run for their money; Eli Manning always plays well against the Pack. However, it’s tough to go against the Packers here. A loss would put the Giants below .500, but it’s hard to see them beating Green Bay under the lights.
31-24 Packers (Record picking Giants games: 3-1)